By: Lavika Sachdeva

Maiko Schaffrath from Wayra was at the University of Manchester today to find the next big start up. Warya is a leading UK accelerator which provides start ups with resources and networks to grow. It was business as usual, pitch, then a round of Q&A, followed by feedback. The winner gets a fastrack to the final Wayra pre-accelerator pitching session next week. Pitches were exciting, but the feedback was more interesting to me. Being there I realised, in return of all the help accelerators like Wayra provide start ups, they just look for an amazing pitch. As Maiko said, they don’t look for ideas, they look for a team to invest their resources in. I realised some of the common mistakes we make while preparing a pitch. The learning outcome for me this evening was the answer to a famous question, “How do I pitch?”. The feedback wasn’t really complicated, but included the simple things which we all forget to include in our pitch. You focus on selling your idea so much that you forget that the real resource is you and our team. Maiko emphasised the fact that you should not leave yourself out of the pitch, but be the main selling point. Whoever you pitch to, you must remember they are more interested to know if you, along with your team, can pull it off rather than whether the idea is revolutionary or not. The idea is important, but it is secondary. Investors and accelerators are as oblivious as you are about the future of an idea, all they want to know is that the people behind it can deal with the uncertainty and pivot/preserve efficiently to run a successful business at the end of the day. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to present the background and strengths of the team behind the idea.

Apart from this, it is really necessary to present a pitch with a presentation, and the key points for that are the basics: Keep it simple, don’t have a lot of text, but just the bullet points, use screenshots and show proof. Since, these pitches are mostly time constrained, we often struggle to decide what to put in and what to leave for the Q&A. For a live start up, it is very important (and smart) to include real numbers in a pitch, because in business numbers talk more than words. If you show them the proof of customers coming in and the company growing, you’re half way there. Also, it is very important to include the Business model, as it says a lot about your vision and mindset towards the company. For start ups pitches can be the magic key to unlock many doors, once you master them, there is no stopping.

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