How to Nail a 5-Minute Startup Pitch

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What is your best tip for nailing a five-minute startup pitch?

To help you deliver the best info in your pitch, and hopefully get investors, we asked CEOs, founders, and other business leaders this question for their best advice. From being solution-oriented to clearly communicating investment needs, there are several recommendations below that may turn five minutes of speaking into an amazing opportunity for your company.


Here are 13 tips for how to nail your five-minute startup pitch:

  • Focus on the Solution
  • Pique Interest, Don't Outright Sell
  • Speak on Personal Anecdotes to Evoke Emotions
  • Leave a Great First Impression
  • Make Sure You Present the Traction
  • Tell a Story ad Avoid Unnecessary Stats
  • Be Obvious About Why You'll Succeed Where Others Will Fall
  • Practice Brings Confidence
  • Combine Both Problem & Solution Statements Flawlessly
  • Don't Rush to Maximize Your Time
  • Bring an Attractive Infographic
  • Avoid Being Vague or Confusing
  • Don't Shy Away From Discussing Money

Focus on the Solution

All five-minute startup pitches inevitably will be broken down into 30 to 90-second segments that culminate with a request for investment, but you should spend your largest chunk of time on your solution. 

Most pitches will present an introduction, the problem, a solution, and then a request for investment, but the solution portion should really stand out because it best represents your all-encompassing vision.

The solution is the time for not only showcasing your product's unique selling points and setting it apart from the competition; but, in essence, it is the whole reason behind your brand. 

Because you are identifying and solidifying the reason for your business’s existence, give the solution portion the greatest amount of airtime.

Greg Gillman, Chief Revenue Officer, MuteSix

Pique Interest, Don’t Outright Sell

Think of your startup pitch as an opportunity to pique someone's interest rather than sell them on your company or idea. 

You’ll want to include something personal and relatable to start, followed by where you’ve been, where you are, and where you hope to go. Consider asking relatable questions that are relevant not only to your industry but a variety, then follow up with how you’ve addressed that problem and provided solutions via your startup. 

Organizing your introduction this way helps to not only effectively communicate your value but also gets the other person thinking about how you or your organization could help them or someone they know.

Michael Fischer, Founder, Elite HRT

Speak on Personal Anecdotes to Evoke Emotions

To be fair, five minutes isn't a lot of time to inform your audience about everything your product or service does. But it is enough time to evoke some kind of powerful emotion or nostalgia that would make them connect to your brand. 

If your startup solves a certain problem that many people would relate to, lean into past experiences and share a personal story about your own struggle—bonus points if there's humor involved because it helps keep things lighthearted. 

Through your own personal anecdote, your audience will be able to picture exactly where your offering fits into their life.

Harry Morton, Founder, Lower Street

Leave a Great First Impression

The first impression is the key to catching the other person's impression. And that's precisely how you're going to nail your pitch. Focus on the subject line, and unleash your creative powers to come up with something that catches attention, contains an emotional hook, or spikes curiosity.

In the first few sentences, try to use personalization because everyone will appreciate the fact that you spent your time doing research and finding out who you are presenting to. Those two aspects are the game-changer of every pitch that you will send.

Nina Krol, Outreach & PR Team Leader, Tidio

Make Sure You Present the Traction

Presenting a problem and a solution does little good if your five-minute startup pitch cannot showcase traction. There are many issues that consumers face, but not every one of them is something they will pay for.

Emphasizing that consumers will spend money on your solution, demonstrating that this won’t be a continuous pain point, and providing real numbers that prove your convictions, is critical to ensure trust in your vision. 

By providing traction with your pitch, you will create a full picture of your concept and show you have a sustainable business.

Cody Candee, CEO, Bounce

Tell a Story and Avoid Unnecessary Stats

My tip is to turn your pitch into an exciting story. It's crucial to avoid unnecessary statistics and focus on the broader narrative you're attempting to convey.

Consider your journey. What issues motivated you to start your company in the first place? Which achievements have you achieved since then?

I pitch for my writing tips project. It was all about grammar and how to write better. We weren't the only ones in this space, but we were different because we focused on the practical side of things.

I explained how we'd solved some of the biggest problems people faced when writing and how we could do this by moving beyond the theoretical and into the practical.

We'd already built a vast library of resources for people to learn from, and we were working on new features that would help them apply what they learned.

The pitch went well, and I received immediate positive feedback from the investor and his team. They loved our idea, and ‌they wanted to be involved.

Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute

Be Obvious About Why You'll Succeed Where Others Will Fail

I once had to pitch my startup to Y Combinator, a well-respected startup accelerator based out of Silicon Valley. 

My co-founder and I had to go through a few pre-screenings, and then we were invited to do a five-minute pitch at their office. I felt like the pitch went well until the end when they asked: “What will make you and not some other company succeed in your mission?”

 That was a tough question and one we didn't have a straightforward answer to. In the end, they did not accept us into Y Combinator.

When you start a startup, you'll have to accept the fact that there are probably others working on the same idea you're working on. So if you're looking to raise money from investors, you'd better be prepared to answer why your company, and not a competing company, will succeed.

Holger Sindbaek, Founder & CEO, Online Solitaire

Practice Brings Confidence

Be prepared and remember to speak with clarity and confidence. 

You'll want to rehearse your pitch before, so you can get comfortable talking about yourself and your company. Consider recording yourself giving a presentation and listening to it to hear where you stumble. 

It's normal to be nervous, but if you can showcase your passion and knowledge, you'll be able to draw your audience.

Benjamin Earley, CEO, HOLT

Combine Both Problem & Solution Statements Flawlessly

The first meet-up with investors is always filled with anxiety and uncertainties, and the only way to nail it is to capture their attention in the shortest time possible. 

After giving them a proper first impression presentation, highlight the gap you intend to plug into the market and justify to investors why that gap is worth filling. Captivate them with a story detailing how your target base would benefit by tackling the problem. Assist them in understanding the complexity of the problem and the urgency to tackle it to meet customers’ needs. 

Since the investors need to know that your solution is not only innovative but also feasible and lucrative, you can cement this by supporting your case with findings from needs analysis and user tests and not forgetting that realistic market share estimates are strong indicators of your company’s growth potential.

Yongming Song, CEO, Live Poll for Slides

Don’t Rush to Maximize Your Time

Even though five minutes can pass quickly, still do not hurry. Deliver your content at a quick pace because it will confuse the investors if you speak too quickly rather than conveying what is special about your product or service. 

It is important to explain the crucial aspect and the need for your product or service calmly, so that the investors can understand the need for your product and decide accordingly. 

If you try to cover everything too fast within five minutes, it might sound messy, but if you try to stay calm and orderly, you’ll do just fine.

Roger Deutsch, CEO, Alcat-Europe

Bring an Attractive Infographic

A startup pitch is only successful when your audience understands what you are trying to explain to them. The best way to do it is through using infographics. Infographics have really grown popular over the past few years because of their simplicity in understanding. 

I always use infographics in my presentations because it saves my time and helps in easing communication. Use them to break complex ideas and data down into pieces and present them clearly to the audience. I highly recommend using infographics for anyone who wants to nail their startup pitch.

Zephyr Chan, Founder & Growth Marketer, Living The Good Life

 

Avoid Being Vague or Confusing

When I was preparing my startup pitch five years ago, I made the mistake of thinking that I needed to sound like an expert on everything related to my business. As a result, my pitch ended up being vague and confusing. 

After some constructive feedback from my mentor, I realized that the best way to engage investors is to be specific about what you need. By outlining exactly how much funding you are seeking and what you plan to use it for, you can show that you have a coherent plan for growing your business. Additionally, being specific about your investment needs conveys a sense of confidence and shows that you are serious about making your startup a success. 

When pitching my business to investors, I am as specific as possible so that they can understand exactly what I am looking for. This approach has helped me secure the funding I need to grow my business and achieve my long-term goals.

Ludovic Chung-Sao, Lead Engineer & Founder, Zen Soundproof

Don’t Shy Away From Discussing Money

I think one mistake founders frequently make is being hesitant to discuss money. Asking for a certain sum of money might daunt you because there is always a possibility that the investment will be unsuccessful. Nevertheless, it is important to be confident and explicit in your request. 

Investors want to see that you have considered your financial demands besides knowing exactly how their investment will appear. At the same time, it's important to show them where you plan to be after using their funds, because doing so fosters confidence.

Alice Hall, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Rowen Homes

 

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