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According to Boston-based entrepreneur and investor Tony Tjan of Cue Ball Capital, the four traits that comprise a successful entrepreneur are heart, smarts, guts and luck. For founders pitching an early stage startup, it’s important to pitch from the heart. Investors, stakeholders and customers alike want to know that you inextricably believe in the product you’ve created, that you’re in it for the long haul and that you’re not simply chasing a trend or passing market.
Heart is comprised of purpose, passion, sacrifice and enthusiasm. It’s the kind of unbridled passion that you feel when you see. Heart, however, is not lust or merely blind enthusiasm. It’s marked by long term, measured vision for something greater than yourself and greater than the moment you’re in. According to Tjan’s research, 60% of startup founders are heart-driven.
In advance of this Thursday’s ‘Pitch It to Win It’ startup showcase in Boston, I’d like to borrow a few tips from Tony and lay a foundation for how to pitch from the heart –
- Simply stated, what is the purpose of your business? Cut it to me straight. Within a few words, you should articulate why you’re doing what you’re doing before you delve in to the particulars on the what or how of it. When pitching, lead with purpose and be direct.
- What are your business’s values, what can’t you waiver on? Oftentimes, a business’s values reflect that of its founders. That’s a great start to a value structure. I’m currently working with a children’s lunch startup that has a variety of hard and fast values around sustainability and freshness of ingredients. Central to their values is the one recurring theme from the foodie founders – “If I wouldn’t eat it myself then I can’t feed it to someone else.” Pitch your company’s values to stand out from the pack.
- What are the nuances that make your business special? In a world of increased market segmentation and health and eco-conciseness, personal values can be a great differentiator for a startup. That said, nuance is the entire array of tiny attributes that make your business unique. Nuance can encompass color, product design, customer experience, the tactile feel of physical goods and so much more. Make sure to mention what makes you special.
- If you had all the money you could want, what would you be doing to live with purpose? As Tjan writes, it’s important that you ask yourself – “are you doing what you’re doing out of love, and the desire to make a difference–or are you in it for the money?” Part of creating your dream business is being true to your personal passions and not simply doing something that investors will buy or customers will flock to. When pitching, let that passion show.
I was recently in a meeting with Startup Stir Board President Daniel Acheampong when he shut it down with one simple question – what’s the next billion dollar business that isn’t being built right now? A room full of smart people were silently stumped.
I challenge you to build that business, and I look forward to supporting you as you do.
Creative Commons Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tmab2003/3464087290/