5 lessons in pitching your startup from Siim Teller of Wire

Written by Rizwan Anwer ·  2 min read >

Siim Teller, a brilliantly confident individual delivered a stunning talk only moments ago at Plan 9’s Launchpad being held in Lahore. Siim gave an insightful talk to young entrepreneurs on how to pitch their startup to the judges effectively. TechJuice has gathered the highlights of his talk for entrepreneurs living in other cities who were not able to attend the session.

1. Confidence & clarity

Siim emphasized that a person can feel a lot of pressure on the stage because of constant gazing looks from the audience, judges and probably, their own team. Siim suggests that if you have the confidence to ignore the audience gaze, the rest depends just on your delivery of the pitch.

Siim added that clarity is also important. You should not try to boast big words that you don’t even know how to pronounce. You have to keep the language as clear, concise, and, coherent as possible in order for the audience to understand your startup idea properly.

2. Throw in a story & avoid industry jargon

A judge would always love a good, humorous story, that’s a fact! You should try to throw in a story emphasizing your product importance or an inspiring story of how you get started and came together for a mutual cause. A good story can always grab the attention of the judges early on in the presentation. Gaining the judges attention is essentially important as it helps make it more likely for them to remember you and your startup.

Don’t indulge yourself in industry jargon extensively, use what is needed, but don’t go overboard with technical terms that you might end up making a mistake and appearing foolish. Live up to the potential and promise of your startup but don’t try to send it to the moon right from the pitch.

3. Language skills and body language

Siim made a very good recommendation to record yourself and your team doing the pitches in a video. This exercise may result in a few humiliating sessions and retakes, but you will eventually find the right pitch to practice and rehearse. Practicing your spoken language, vocabulary and delivery are essential traits of an effective entrepreneur and more importantly to impress the judges. You can confuse the judges about your startup idea if you failing to deliver a clear and concise pitch.

Body language is always important. Please keep the following in mind when on the stage.

  • Maintain eye contact with the judges but don’t enter a staring contest with them.
  • Move your hands and legs in coordination and choreograph your stage movement well before hand. Everyone on the team is encouraged to do this.
  • NEVER turn your back for any reason. Making the judges or the audience look at the back of your clothes is considered to be utmost rudeness. Always stay face front or sideways to explain something, but never turn your back.
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion. Don’t be a show stopper or overly casual, find the middle ground.

4. Network with the judges and make yourself memorable

Prior to the competition, meet as many of the judges as possible to introduce yourself and your startup. If you’ve met them prior, then reintroduce yourself and remind them where you’ve met before to start a topic of conversation. Additionally, tell the judge(s) about your startup’s recent accomplishments, accolades and achievements confidently.

One of the problems that judges can face with continuous pitches from different startups is they keep forgetting startups on the stage. Siim suggested about ending your pitch with a slide that mentions the name of your startup and team members. This is always a good way to conclude your presentation and sounds much better than other alternatives, such as: “That is our pitch, we will now take questions.”

5. Ask for Advice. Not money.

When you are presenting your pitch, you are inviting critique from the judges upon yourself, your startup, and, your team, as such you should be welcoming and forthcoming. Yes, there are sometimes cash prizes at these competitions, but take whatever feedback you get from the judges as constructive feedback, not criticism.

It is always a good idea to ask the judges during the break about your pitch and if they have any words of wisdom to offer. You can do this before or after your pitch has concluded, but, of course, the wise course would be the former over the latter to avoid an awkward situation.

These are the 5 lessons in how to be a great pitcher from Siim Teller, a man who has a grounded history with Skype and many other prominent companies such as Hill and Knowlton.

How many of these lessons do you plan on applying to your pitch and have you got any suggestions? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.