I am often met with the presumption that all we care about in Silicon Valley and on the SCALEit program is ... pitching. I often hear Danish entrepreneurs and founders say something like:
“SCALEit and Silicon Valley, yeah right - it's all about pitching.“
Yes, we do care a lot about pitching.
Is it all we care about?
No, absolutely not.
However, the Art of Pitching is an integral part of your success and the ability to articulate what your business is, what problems you are solving and how you’re going to make money is absolutely key to navigating the Silicon Valley ecosystem and landscape.
How often do you meet people who ask: So, tell me what you do?
If you are not able to describe (within 10 words or less) what you do - it is because you don’t know the basics about pitching. And you’ll most likely lose the attention from whoever asked you the question. Honestly, how often have you found yourself searching for the right words, or heard yourself rambling 200 words in 3 minutes with absolutely no clue for anyone to understand what it is you are saying or doing (including yourself?).
The Art of Pitching is a sequence - don’t boil the ocean
Pitches come in many shapes and forms. Think of a pitch as a sequence of pitches where each pitch only serves one purpose - to get to the next pitch. You don’t have to explain EVERY little detail in your business every time someone asks you what you do. Make it short, sharp and memorable.
(Most Danish startups in Silicon Valley know how to pitch - and are aware that learning the Art of Pitching is continuous. You can always improve.)
Let’s start with the handshake pitch. The handshake pitch immediately follows the introduction of yourself and the name of your company.
… I help Danish startups accelerate their business through Silicon Valley (The SCALEit handshake pitch)
… we create spare parts for humans (I actually heard that one time!)
or a world famous product description:
a 1.000 songs in your pocket. (Steve Jobs describing the iPod)
All pitches should trigger the response: “oh… how do you do that?” Or, “Tell me more?”
Within a very short period of time you should be able to answer the following questions. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? What problems do you solve? How will the world be a better place due to what you do? Who is on your team? What is your goal? How are you going to get there?
Let me give you 2 reasons why pitching is super important in Silicon Valley:
1. Limited Attention Spans
People in Silicon Valley (and beyond!) have extremely short attention spans. If you are not able to catch their attention they're not going to listen to you. So make sure you are crisp and sharp in your messaging whenever someone asks you: “So, what do you do?”
Don’t give me mumbo-jumbo about how you through an innovative approach and via machine learning and artificial intelligence can optimize business processes and increase revenue from 10-20% within the first year. Yup, it kind of sounded fancy, but you didn’t really say anything - and believe me - people will call your bluff!
"If you cannot explain it simply - it’s because you don’t understand it well enough"
- Albert Einstein
2. Pitching2 (Squared)
If you get that 7-10 word message together in a strong and compelling way you will be much more likely to dive into the magic dust of Silicon Valley.
Everybody is talking about exponentiality. Someone even with an almost religious passion. Well, let’s tone it down a notch and just look at how exponential pitching works.
Obviously I meet a lot of startups. If I am able to remember the 7 words that truly describe your business it is very likely that I might bring your business up next week when I (perhaps) meet with someone who is particularly interested in your field. Anything from a potential customer, an investor, VC or angel, with specific interest in your vertical or someone else who could help you accelerate your business.
That, my friend, is where the true magic of Silicon Valley happens.
And that is why pitching is so much more than pitching…
Can you learn?
Would you like to learn more about the Silicon Valley magic dust?
You should consider joining us in August where we will "deep dive" into the art of pitching and much more, (growth hacking, investor meetings, legal stuff, fundraising, meeting other entrepreneurs, inspiration etc.)
And if you think pitching is just about your business - you’re wrong. Pitching is what’s going on in many aspects of your life. A first date, finding your partner, getting a job, finding your first customer, convincing your better half to make a family, getting a raise etc. - so don’t tell yourself that pitching is just pitching - because it is much more.