On Thursday, 7 Generation Games sent me on my first-ever networking assignment. Lucky for me, the event I attended was a drinkubator. This made it fun and easy to engage with the other attendees as each new encounter generally prompted the order of another cocktail. “I could get used to this,” I thought to myself. Still there was business to tend do, and so I looked to keep casual conversation to a minimum.
But to do so I needed to know my company inside and out in order to construct a pitch that was both enticing and informative. Excited for this opportunity, yet nervous I would fumble in my delivery, I spent all day preparing. I reread Maria’s blog post, Pitch Perfect, and studied previous pitches given by our CEO, AnnMaria. I also scoured the web for expert advice on how to give an appealing pitch. This led me to an interview with acclaimed author and start-up guru, Tim Ferriss*. He wisely said that the art of the pitch requires that you provide your listener with a good story. Who are you? What do you do? What is your aim? How is your product different or better than others on the market? These, he argued, are the essential ingredients of a concise, well-structured pitch. And so I went to work crafting a message that included these elements. I made sure to incorporate our history, our mission, our predicted revenue stream, and anything else I thought would add value. “Great, “I thought, I am ready to go. But there was a caveat to Ferriss’ advice: the pitch itself, though necessary, won’t get you noticed, the delivery will. Therefore, he said, you must practice.
So there I was, on the 5 North, rehearsing my pitch in the car, stuck once again in rush hour traffic. With time on my side, I committed may carefully crafted words to memory so they would sound natural as possible. This proved to be worthwhile, for when I arrived on site I entered into a sort of flow state of mind (yes, this was before I had a cocktail). I greeted every person I could, explaining my purpose of attending the event before introducing them to 7 Generation Games. My assertiveness proved to be effective. Before long, I had given my pitch a half-dozen times to people who offered me very insightful feedback in return. After a few hours of mingling, I had my pitch refined and ready for my next assignment (hopefully another drinkubator.)
The lesson I came away with: as insightful as Ferriss’ advice was, in the end, people buy benefit. Your company can have a great history and a wonderful mission statement, but at the end of the day, so I learned, people are interested only in the tangible offerings of your product. So be sure to include that at the foreground of your pitch the next time you find yourself networking. Fortunately for me, 7 Generation Games has a whole pipeline of products that have been proven to improve students’ understanding of math.
So I challenge you to ask yourself, “What’s your start-up’s benefit?” Spend some time on this question. It could soon lead you to extraordinary outcomes.
*If you are serious about marketing your start-up see Tim Ferriss’ blog–ranked #1 on the Top 150 Management and Leadership Blogs. It will provide you with great insights into the many ways of growing your products’ market awareness.