I was in bed during my junior year at Boston University, when I opened my computer to a familiar villain - an email from Bank of America notifying me that my balance had fallen below $25. Looking back, these emails were the best thing that could have happened to me. They lit a fire in that drove me to create my own company, UNItiques.com.
An e-commerce platform for college students to sell their clothes, UNItiques.com has had wonderful success since launching in 2014, much of which can be attributed to the pitch skills I've learned along the way. However, nothing put these newfound skills to the test more than the recent opportunity I had pitching my startup to investors on Project Runway: Fashion Startup.
Overall, what I learned from this experience is that whether you're pitching to an angel over coffee or sweating bullets under the scorching lights of Project Runway, the same rules apply.
1) Memorize The Pitch Word-For-Word, Then Say It In Your Own Words
After weeks of rehearsing, I knew my pitch so well I could probably give it backwards. After a flawless delivery in the first take, I was surprised to hear "CUT!" They wanted to hear it from me, not from a piece of paper that I was mentally reading from. Since Project Runway, I've learned that a well articulated, colloquial pitch goes much further than a rehearsed script.
2) Have A Clear Call To Action
When pitching in front of ANY audience, big or small take advantage of the opportunity you've been given. Even if you ultimately don't get the investment you wanted, having a clear call to action will allow for investors to potentially follow up with you down the line. Offer your email address, social handles, website etc and also be sure to ask for feedback regardless of the final turn out.
3) Say Less, Answer More
The more you say, the more of a chance you have to mess up. Instead, be succinct in your pitch and give information that will lead someone to ask a question that you know you have a great answer for. For example, on Project Runway I told the investors how many members we had without saying the number of campuses (500). I knew my answer was impressive, so I let them ask "How many campuses are you on?" If you give too much information in your initial pitch, there is more of a chance you will be asked something you have no idea how to answer.
4) Smile And Say Thanks
It may sound cliche, but remembering to smile during your pitch is paramount. It exudes confidence as well as an air of positivity that inherently makes your pitch more engaging regardless of the content. Also when it comes time to thank those who listened to your pitch, make sure it's sincere and strive to create a personal relationship right off the bat. At this point in your startup's life, remember YOU are directly associated to your brand.
Catch my pitch on Project Runway: Fashion Startup November 3rd at 10:30PM on Lifetime!