5 tips for a successful pitch, surviving failure and moving on (for real)

As experienced by someone who hears 10 pitches per day for the last 10 years – and that requires math so never mind.

Oct 24, 2017

I’ve spent the better part of my life watching startups pitch their stories. Stories from all over the world – some better than others and some kind of awful – some really quite fantastic.  An important lesson here is not just the part about the pitch, it’s the part about authenticity and storytelling and, frankly, lessons learned from failure -- perhaps the most important lesson of all. I guess it’s all about knowing what you stand for.

A few years ago, I listened to a pitch from this kid from Denmark. Lasse Skjønning Andersen. He wanted to democratize porridge, a strange, but strangely amazing endeavor. At the core of his story he wanted to make comfort food accessible to everyone. Grød. He has more than exceeded what anyone ever expected. Part of his success is his story and his passion for his story --and his ability to tell his story.

His pitch was classic because it captured every nuance any startup needs to raise capital, get attention and, well, start a movement. These are the elements of a successful pitch, right here:

1) Clarity. Know what you stand for and be able to state it in three sentences or less. “I seek to make porridge accessible to everyone through retail storefronts.” Boom.

2) Revenue model. How the hell are you going to make money? While your idea is cute, money is cuter. “I will make money by selling comfort food that is called porridge.” 

3) Culture. What do you stand for? When you know the answer to that, you will know how your culture will develop. Culture fosters creativity, but leadership will always determine your culture and thus…

4) Leadership. The character of your leader will define everything you do, create, make, state, stand for -- and it will be your legacy. So, be careful with this one. 

5) Audience. Know who your tribe is and be a part of that conversation — these are your customers. This is the key to success in any pitch. For real. Write this one down. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. And pitch the hell out of it. Voice. This is where you will find your voice, which will become your brand.

In all these years of listening to pitches, I’ve learned a lot – not only about startups and funding, but, more importantly, about drive and success and life and tribes– and storytelling. We are all storytellers, it turns out. Your pitch is your opportunity to tell your story – so tell it.

I think the most powerful lesson that shakes out from these experiences is that the human spirit is a most resilient force. Mistakes happen. Failure happens. Porridge can be democratized. It’s life and it’s part of the journey to success and it will always be a part of your story. Learn, live and move forward – all hallmarks of success. And all are stepping stones on your journey. 

We here at CBC celebrate all of these things — mistakes, failures, experimentation and, most importantly, porridge (and stories, too). We look forward to seeing you in November. Bring your stories. We’ll provide the porridge.

-- Rasmus