It takes more than a good idea to create a successful business, but even if you have the other ingredients – business expertise, a great team, demand for your product – at some point you will likely need outside funding. In order to get the funding, you need to pitch your company to investors, which is where Pitch-Perfect Startup comes in. Leo Novsky, owner of SPEAK with Power Consulting in Bellevue, has launched a series of meetings and workshops designed to help entrepreneurs “Get clear, tell your story, and learn how to get funded.”

The inaugural Pitch-Perfect Startup meetup on July 21 featured a panel of four investors from the Keiretsu Forum, which co-sponsored the event along with Impact Hub Bellevue. Three featured entrepreneurs presented three-minute pitches to the panelists, who provided feedback. During the second phase of the event, the 35 attendees broke up into groups of three and practiced pitching to each other.

Novsky emphasized the importance of being able to condense a pitch into a few minutes. “If you can’t get your message out in five minutes, chances are it’s not clear enough,” said Novsky. “People shoot themselves in the foot by how they present.”

The goal of the Pitch-Perfect Startup is to help entrepreneurs hone their messages to quickly present five elements:

  • Why – company mission and market opportunity
  • Who – business team and ideal customer
  • How – solution and use case
  • When – timeline to achieve market traction, next steps
  • Where – exit strategy, return on investment

According to Novsky, presenters often spend too much time on the “how,” describing their solutions in detail without providing the context that investors want to learn. If you run out of time to explain how investors will make money on the deal, they will not be eager to invest.

At the July meetup, panelists evaluated how well the presenters addressed all five elements. For example, Aaron Owen of Jiko Power started with a compelling case study about a woman in Africa who had used Jiko’s product to provide electricity to her neighborhood using heat generated from her cookstove. The panel liked how the story captured their attention, but noted that Owen failed to describe who was on his team, his product distribution strategy, how many customers have tested the product, or which high-profile organizations have already funded his company.

The next meetup is coming up on August 25, with the same format as the July event. Novsky is looking for a few presenters who would like to make their 3-minute pitch in front of the audience and receive immediate feedback from the expert panel. Those not ready to pitch are encouraged to attend as guests, learning from the featured presenters and getting practice pitching to each other in an informal setting. The event is free.

Entrepreneurs looking for guidance in designing and writing their pitches may be interested in the workshop on August 26, where Novsky will explain all five elements and work with individuals to tailor them to their own businesses.