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Top 10 tips for pitching your startup online

Whether you love it or hate it, pitching your startup is a big deal. Like most events nowadays, the majority of pitches are being hosted digitally. Here are our top ten tips for pitching your startup online.

Today (Friday 15 January) the startups in our current cohort will be pitching for investment at our Startup Demo Day. The event is the culmination of the latest round of our accelerator programme.

For the last three months, we have been working with these six exciting food startups to help them build, grow, and launch in the food industry. This afternoon, the founders will each have six minutes to pitch to a panel of investors, in front of a live audience, in the hopes of securing investment.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we are hosting the event online. Pitching is often nerve-wracking and doing it remotely can add an extra layer of complexity. If done right, however, it can be very impactful.

If you nail your pitch, it could be just the catalyst to propel your startup to the next level. With that in mind, here are our top ten tips for pitching online.

Practice, practice, practice

Let’s start with an obvious but important one. You must practice your pitch – relentlessly. Practice in front of a mirror, practice online, practice in front of real people. The founders who are the best at pitching are the ones that have put in the time behind the scenes. The result is a pitch that’s as smooth as (plant-based) butter.

Alumni startup Greenwise pitching at a previous ProVeg Incubator Demo Day

Embrace the awkward pause

How you deliver your pitch is almost as crucial as what you say. Have the confidence to take your time. Speak slowly and clearly, be precise, and take a pause after key details. It might feel awkward to you, but it is effective. Pausing is the spoken word equivalent of an exclamation point – it emphasises that what you just said is important. 

Remember body language

Even though you will (likely) be sitting at a computer, body language is still important. Look into your webcam when you speak so that the audience can connect with your eyes, just as they would in real life. Think about your facial expressions and gestures too. You can use these to reinforce your points and bring your speech to life.

Put your best foot forward

Does your team have 50+ years of experience? Have you developed a patented technology? If your startup has a unique strength then put it at the beginning of your pitch. This will engage your audience from the start and demonstrate the capability of your company.

Write a script

Pitching is an unnatural situation, so you might as well be prepared for it. By scripting your pitch, you can ensure that you cover all the points you want to make. You can also cut down on filler and time your speech more accurately. Knowing what you’re going to say will give you confidence and the more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become.

Alumni startup Plantcraft pitching at a previous ProVeg Incubator Demo Day

Wifi is Queen

Technical hitches can mess up a pitch. This is particularly true of an online presentation. Make sure you have a stable internet connection and use a LAN cable if possible. You could have the best pitch in the world, but it won’t matter if your screen freezes and no-one can hear it.

Think of your setup

You also need to think about where you will be delivering the pitch since the stage won’t be set for you. Pick a well-lit room with no distractions or background noise. Sit in front of a neutral background and get yourself a headset so that your audience can hear you loud and clear.

Avoid buzzwords

Investors will likely have heard the buzzwords from your sector countless times before and they won’t land like you want them to. Holding someone’s attention can be tricky online, so don’t turn them off with overused language. If you do use a buzzword, use it sparingly and back up what you are saying.

Three products our startups will pitch today. Plant-based chorizo from Pow Foods, chocolate from Fellow Creatures, and chicken from Naka Foods.

What about samples?

An important part of a pitch is being able to handle, smell, and taste a startup’s product. When you are pitching online, that experience will be missing so think about how you can replicate it. Can you send samples to the investor in advance? If not, you could consider making a demo video of your product or product tastings to play during the pitch.

Have fun

Finally, let your positive energy shine through. This is your company and if you are passionate about it, then show it. At the end of the day, people connect with and invest in people. If you are enthusiastic about your company, others will be too. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even be interested enough to support or invest in you.

If you want to join our next cohort of startups and be one of the companies pitching at our next demo day, then apply now. We are accepting applications from innovative food and food tech companies until the deadline on 7 February.

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