Howdy! This is the last article of my 10 unconventional tips to improve your pitch. Quick recap from the last 2 posts:
#4 Know Your Audience
#5 Which Stage Are You At?
#6 Tell Your Story
#7 : Kill Your Darlings
In mathematical logic, propositions are made of necessary and sufficient conditions. When looking for your problem/solution fit, you can adopt this logic as well. I recommend focusing on the necessary elements at first and forgetting about everything that is not. Less is more. Think of what makes your product really indispensable to consumers. In other words, if something is not necessary, drop it for now. It may be hard for you to drop a feature or activity you love, but more features don’t mean a better product. Ask yourself this question: who do you have to satisfy first? Your ego or the consumer?
#8 : Team
Sébastien de Halleux, former co-founder of Playfish, provider of games on Facebook, who eventually sold it to Electronic Arts for $400m, told me once: “would you rather have a big slice of a small pie or a small slice of a big pie?”. To make things happen, you need a team. You can’t scale a business alone. Keep that in mind. Better have a team with a wobbly idea than being alone with a revolutionary one. So pick the small slice.
From day 1, pitching will also help to find your partners in crime. Look for people with complementary skills and ready to challenge you. Don’t wait to execute; actions speak louder than words. You are about to ask someone to drop their current career path and give you several years of their life to jump into a risky venture. It’s a big decision.
Good co-founders are certainly busy with many activities. It may take weeks to find and convince them. Pitch early, share your vision and passion. Look for someone you can get along with in tough times. You probably want to figure out early if the person is suited for the job and avoid additional troubles later one. Asking tough questions (on both sides) is important. E.g. Are you willing to relocate? Have you got any financial constraints? Under which conditions would you be ready to drop your job and work full time on the project? etc. Think about dating. The process is a bit similar.
#9 : Legal
They are topics a founding team doesn’t dare, or forgets, to address that can backfire later. Legal is one. Imagine the following scenario. You are working on your project and you asked a friend to help you out, thinking he could be a great match as a co-founder. So far so good. You take it as a trial. After writing half of your mobile application, he drops off and moves along. A couple of months later, an investor is ready to fund your startup and suddenly your friend claims ownership.
That friend will never bother you if you fail your project. However, if your startup is valued hundreds million dollars, there are chances to see people queuing at your door claiming a part of the cake.
What does that have to do with pitching? When you pitch for co-founders, state clearly your demand and explain the next steps; legal matters included. If you have some troubles leading such discussion, find an experienced entrepreneur who can coach you. At the end you should have a document to help launch an informal collaborating team. Have a look at the “Founders Collaboration Agreement” by Seedcamp.
#10 : Mindset
Someone told me once, the difference between a good team member and a bad one is the mindset. I would define it as “doing the right thing, for the right people and for the right reason”. I admit that it’s a vague concept, but it encompasses your project and can immediately be perceived by the audience. If you spend time in Silicon Valley, you will notice that beyond a location, it’s a mindset. Starting a web business is tough. The honeymoon period doesn’t last long; after a couple of weeks, dark days will come. Hence the importance to be surrounded by people who understand you and are ready to help you move forward and raise your odds of success. Make sure to look for these people and keep them in the loop; they are very valuable.
Here the full presentation.
About Le Wagon:
Le Wagon is a 9-week (on site), immersive program that transforms beginners (or half-beginners) into full-stack web developers.
From my University years, I have grown a strong interest in teaching. I strongly believe that our education system is broken and needs new ways of teaching more suited to today’s challenges. With the increasing demand for talent in information technology, this school answers a real need. Kudos to their founders Romain Paillard and Boris Paillard for having the guts to launch such a venture.
Whereas Devbootcamp, their US equivalent, aims to train hireable candidates, Le Wagon has an additional goal; in their own words, “become an outstanding entrepreneur who is able to code his own projects and to deeply understand technical issues.” Indeed, beside providing a technical background, the school also teaches key points to become a web entrepreneur (e.g. lean approach, sprint design, pitch etc.).
To go further, read the following books:
- “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel.
- The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. by Guy Kawasaki.
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek
- Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Work, by Ash Maurya
Until the next article, take care.