The Art of the Fast Pitch: Your Business Plan in 1 Minute Flat!

Recently the Tech Coast Angels held their ever popular, yearly fast pitch competition at UCLA. After several rounds, 12 start-up companies were selected to make the fast pitch.

Each company was given 1 minute - exactly. In that time, they had to impress a team of 12 judges. At the end of each presentation, the judges held up placards, rather like they do at the Olympics ice skating competition, with two scores going into the mix - presentation and investability.

If you are wondering how much can one really squeeze into a minute - the answer, well, a lot. The teams did admirably presenting their business plans in 60 seconds.

Not co incidentally, teams that scored high for investment opportunity, also got top marks for presentation. It is clear that an effective pitch is key in creating a strong impression on investors.

In a 1 minute pitch, it is very important to drill down to the basics and select a few key highlights, and pare the entire pitch down to these points.

There are a few key ingredients that must go into the perfect pitch

1. The idea: If the essence of the plan can be distilled into one sentence, great. If not, explain the pain that this plan will ease. Sometimes that is easier, and quicker, to explain.

2. The people: This is crucial so don’t skip this step. You don’t need to recite titles of people or who is on your board. Just say “I am Sam and I have 10 years of expertise in …..”. Investors maintain they invest in people, not ideas.

3. The competition: While there is not enough time to trash the competition, you cannot ignore them either. One well thought out line about how you are different from the crowd, will take you a long way towards credibility.

4. The customers: If you have a real client - tout it. There is nothing like the endorsement of knowing that someone else is taking a chance on your company.

5. Intellectual property: Very often investors might like an idea, and even how the company is executing, but might be leery about investing, if they do not have an assurance that the technology is protected. So if you have a patent, let them know, and the rest will be easy sailing.

A fast pitch is not meant to get you funding. It is meant to give the investors enough of a flavor to whet their appetites, so they will want to talk to you further.

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