The Final Pitch


Our MC Juan Garzon wrote this awesome piece about your final presentation. Make sure that you answer the questions posed in this write up, and best of luck to all of our teams!

You’ve just spent 54 hours researching, building, pivoting, and developing your idea. Now it’s Demo Day, and you have to sum up everything you’ve created in this beer-and-pizza-fueled whirlwind of a weekend in just 5 minutes. What do you say? Where do you start?

Like any good presentation, an investor pitch should be created with the audience in mind. It should answer the questions that the potential investor sitting in front of you might have, and it should do so in a logical order that is easy to follow.

As a rule of thumb, investor pitches should be no more than 10-15 slides long. This keeps you focused and concise. So following is a 10 slide presentation outline of the questions each slide should be answering. You may need an additional slide here and there depending on your idea, but be sure you are addressing each question below.

1. What’s your idea? Open with a quick elevator pitch to give the rest of the presentation some context and remind the audience who you are. Keep it simple and try to grab their attention.

A simple template you can start with for this is: [your name] helps [target] accomplish [target’s goal] by providing [advantage] to solve [problem].

Here is our 2nd place CSW3 pitch using the above template: WifiCrowd helps municipalities provide wireless internet to their communities for free by using SMS access codes on sponsored gateway pages to solve for security concerns.

2. What problem are you solving? Make sure the problem you are solving for is clear to the audience. Make them feel the pain. Pitch Pro Tip: Tell a story about someone with this issue. Stories engage and add emotion, allowing you to show your passion for solving the problem.

3. Who else has this problem? Now you add data to the mix by talking about the market size. Be sure to be specific about who you are targeting. The more descriptive and focused the niche, the better you’ll be able to differentiate and the clearer your marketing message will be. Your audience cannot be “everyone with a smartphone, and if we only get 1% of the market…”

4. How will you solve the problem? Here’s where you get to show off your solution, but don’t get too caught up in all the product features and technical details. Just explain how it solves the problem your market is having (and in a way that is better than whatever they’re doing now).

Go ahead and demo the solution.

5. How does your customer currently solve this pain? This is typically called the Competitor slide, but don’t limit yourself to just the obvious competition (products/services similar to yours). Your competition is however your customers solved this problem before you came along.

Using this approach prevents you from ever saying, “We don’t really have any competition!” Remember, competition is a good thing. It means you have a market – people are already paying to solve this problem! Now just show how your solution is better than what’s out there. You can do this with a simple comparison chart works with checkmarks.

6. How are you going to make money? In other words, what’s your revenue model? Sure, you may have ads, pay-per-download, subscriptions, and all manner of schemes to monetize this bad boy, but just focus on one revenue stream for now. This keep the math simple for everyone.

7. How are you going to find customers? This is your marketing plan. If you clearly defined your market in slides 2 and 3, then you just need to talk about where these people hang out and how you’re going to reach them there. Are they local, regional, global? Will you be calling them, re-tweeting their cat pictures, or driving them to your website with awesome viral content? What will you measure to know whether your efforts are successful or not?

8. Who are you and why should we care? Here’s where you tell us about you and your team. Many people instinctively start their presentations talking about themselves, but the truth is, you haven’t given the audience a reason to care yet. Now that we’ve established your idea has legs, you’ll want to tell us why your team of super stars are the one to make it happen. We don’t need every member’s resume, though. Just share the relevant experience and/or skill sets your team has that will help the business succeed.

9. Where will you go from here? What have you gotten done so far, and where can this go in the future? Here’s where you can show those pretty hockey stick projections with key stages and milestones along the way. Keep it realistic and be prepared to answer questions on it.

10. What else do you need? You’ve wowed the crowd with your amazing idea, and you’ve shown where this whole thing can go. Now what do you need to get you there? If asking for an investment, be sure the figure is closely tied to customer acquisition and your growth strategy. After all, an investor is looking for a return on their investment, not to fund a hobby. You’ll also want to be prepared to answer lots of questions here.

Some other presentation pointers

Remember that your slides are just visual aids, and that your idea is the focus of the presentation. Don’t fill your slides with words and read off of it like a teleprompter. Use pictures and graphics whenever possible to both inform and engage. Remember to appeal to both the emotional and rational sides of the brain.

Chances are, there is something about the problem you are solving that you have personally experienced or witnessed (even in your research). Be sure to express the passion you have for the idea in your presentation. Startups require a lot of work, and investors want to know that you have the will and the drive to survive through the rough patches.

Finally, be authentic and show off a little bit of your team’s personality. Being genuine and highlighting what makes you different can help make your presentation memorable, which is especially helpful when you are one in a long line of pitches the investors are hearing. Besides, real people like investing in real people.

Bottom line

As long as your presentation shows that your product or service is alleviating a real world pain, and that you’ve thought through how to build, monetize, and scale the solution, you’re already ahead of the game. Just relax and be yourself. Feel free to reach out to me at @jcgarzon or via email at if you need help.