The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for a Winning Demo Day/ Competition Pitch

In continuing with the “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Your Startup’s Investor Pitch Deck” and the “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for a Winning Sales Deck”, the next main deck I get requests for is a Demo Day or Competition style deck. Your wish is my command!

Making the Most of Your Minutes

In an investor pitch you don’t have a time limit. You can prepare as much material as you need and either you’ll get to it or not. With a Demo Day/Competition Pitch, you most likely have a 5 minute pitch, or like the client I’m now prepping for a YC Demo Day — 2 minutes!!! (Yikes). So 5 minutes suddenly seems like a lot of time, huh?

The most important thing to remember — there is no way that you will be able to tell your whole story! You’ve been working on this company for quite awhile now — a few minutes just won’t cut it. Your goal is not to walk away with an investment — it’s to get them to notice you, to remember you and to want to continue the conversation. So in a sea of tens of other pitches, you must strive to be memorable. And these guidelines should help you do just that:

The Content of a “QuickPitch”

1. Opening — The Why! — Definitely say who you are and who your company is, but instead of launching into an explanation of what you do (which you will do soon anyway…) give them the “Big Vision” statement — or as Simon Sinek says — The WHY you do what you do.

2. The Problem/Need/Opportunity — You must show that you get the need of the audience — but for a Demo Day style pitch, you want to grab their attention super fast and keep them engaged. The best way to do that is with a great story — something that illustrated the problem. Make it big, breathtaking — put on a show — the stage is yours to take and I’ve seen some crazy antics over the years. Remember — be memorable! You can also weave in the big market numbers to back up the story with facts and show how big this opportunity is.

3. The Solution — How are you solving this? Create a simple solution sentence: We’re doing X(solving a problem) for Y(for a specific audience) by Z(in a nutshell, what are you? A Platform/app/solution/tool/etc.) and as a bonus, your secret sauce that is enabling you to do it This should be so simple that anyone could understand it — even if they don’t have a degree in computer science or engineering. You want to be super clear and then as fast as possible go to the…

4. A Killer Demo — There’s a reason it’s called Demo Day after all. Whether it’s a short (30 sec to 1 min) product film, a few screen shots, or some offbeat way of showing your product — it will make all the difference in the world to your audience. Make sure you show the demo from a first time user perspective and use it to highlight 3–4 really cool features. Oh and a word to the wise — Live Demos have a way of dying at the worst moments — so don’t take the risk — I’ve seen it happen too many times and it’s painful. Have a pre-made demo.

5) How Far Along Are You? — This is where you clue them in on your momentum — how far along is your product? Growth? Metrics? Do you have Sales? Pilots? Partnerships? Go for the big, impressive numbers.

In such a quick pitch there won’t be time to talk about your entire business plan — so these 3 are the most important things to weave in:

6. Differentiation — What truly sets you apart from your competition — without bashing them of course — who knows it one of their Founders or Funders are in the audience???

7. Monetization — How are you going to make money?

8. “Opportunization” — Yes, I’m aware it’s not a real word, but it rhymes with the previous 2 😉 Don’t just state the obvious “Huge Market” facts (those are important and can be shown or told in the opening.) This is the “Why us, why now?” This is the place to really show movement in trends and opportunities, bring in quotes from major sources — have there been major fundings or acquisitions among your competitors? Did an industry leader or a research firm like Gartner, Forrester or the likes say that a solution like yours is missing? Are there market trends among your users showing a shift in behavior? Was there a change in law or regulations mandating people or companies to find a solution like yours? Etc.

9) Team — In such a brief time you will not be able to review each team member’s entire resume — so state the assets of the team as a whole. Why are they the team to execute on this? What experience and unfair advantages do they have to make this a reality? If you have noteworthy Advisory Board Members, you can mention them briefly since that adds credibility to your pitch.

10) The Ask* — I put a star next to this because it’s important to check with the program or competition you’re pitching for if they want you mentioning your fundraising and how. It’s a regulatory issue. So check in with them — at the very least you can say something like “We’re currently raising our Seed Round and would be happy to speak with you later about it.”

11) Inspiring Ending — It’s so frustrating for me to see a great pitch that ends with “Um, Well, that’s it. Thank you!” Really? That’s the best you can do? Close off the story you began with, end with an inspiring quote, lead them to the bigger vision for the company — something that leaves them as excited as they were when you started.

Pack a Punch

There are a few things beyond content that you want to work on:

  • Keep Your Energy Up — Investors look for the likeability factor and the passion. Scale up your enthusiasm at least 25%, show your excitement about your company — remember — you’ve given the pitch hundreds of times, they are hearing it for the first time — give them the feeling that you’re telling it for the first time.
  • Your Slides Represent Your Product — Your slides are your calling card. It is the audience’s first peek into your world, and there’s no second chance for a first impression. Make them mostly visual. Overloading on words steals the focus from you. There are great affordable tools for tweaking your slides like EmazeSlideBean or Haiku Deck to name a few. Better yet, if you have a UI/UX expert or designer working on your product, give them the slides and have them work their magic.
  • Nerves = Excitement! Yep! Those are the same butterflies in your stomach for both cases so all you have to do is swap the “I’m Nervous” for “I’m Excited” and you won’t believe the difference you feel! (It might take a few tries, but your body will start to believe you.

Most important — Have fun with it! It’s your opportunity to shine — and you never know who you might be watching — make the most of it!

Hope this was helpful! I’m here if you have any further questions or need any more support! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions. Good luck!

Clients Say

  • I worked with Donna last year. She is, simply put, one of the best at corporate storytelling out there. I recommend her regularly to those looking to raise capital, especially when they have a more challenging story to tell. If you want to take your corporate storytelling to the next level, don't hesitate. Work with her. You won't regret it.

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  • Donna is absolutely fantastic! We have been working with Donna within week programs in Silicon Valley for Executive MBA of Moscow school of management SKOLKOVO. She is great in transforming 180 degrees your skills and approach to pitching. The students leave the workshop with pure brilliant feeling what and how they should do. Donna is unique, energetic, engaging and super professional. She knows exactly what you need to succeed. And I strongly recommend her workshops for big and small businesses, corporate people, start-uppers and serial entrepreneurs.

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  • Donna is an absolute pleasure to work with.
    Her knowledge of pitch decks and storytelling combines for an utmost distillation in information for investors.
    The outline of what she presents is second to none and just from a simple phone call with Donna and some follow up we were able to refine our deck to a point that many investors and other entrepreneurs immediately offered to pass our deck along to their contacts.As someone who raised capital before and has constructed a few pitch decks, I can attest to the fact that she brings a different perspective, edge, & insight to the table that the entrepreneur generally doesn't see.

    I HIGHLY recommend Donna's methodology for pitch/sales decks and believe that whether first-time or experienced entrepreneurs, her services will prove to be invaluable!

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    Thanks Donna, great job!
    Olivier

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  • For Donna, finding the story in a pitch is like a logic puzzle. The approach is brilliant. She listens to you tell your story, then guides you through the logical connections. Finally she helps you knit them into a natural story. You retain the authenticity, yet your story delivers your message with a wallop. She shows you the concrete metaphors and guides you around the slippery slopes. At the end of the journey, you've found a story that's your own yet tells the tale you want to tell. She's a remarkable professional. That she's a delightful human being just makes it all magical. I can't recommend her more highly as a corporate storyteller.

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  • I had the pleasure of working with Donna a couple of months ago, and I was blown away by her art, dedication, and her ability to communicate. She took the words I had on paper and created a story in my voice. She knew exactly what I was trying to say. She is a great listener and the stories she creates from talking with you really resonate with the audience. She is the first person I will call when I need to build my story. Thank you, Donna, my success would have not been possible without you

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  • Its been a great pleasure working with Donna. Her insight, experience, and advice were instrumental in shaping Flyzen's deck and pitch. Donna shared her perspective on our processes which was eye-opening.
    I highly recommend her to anyone who is looking to improve and shape his/her storytelling abilities, anyone who wants to work on his/her messages, either one-on-one, for a conference or for an investor presentation.

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  • Donna is an expert, guru, professional — all of the above — when it comes to learning the methodology and science behind pitching your business. We've had many high-profile experts host a pitching workshop in our Seed Fund Program (where learning how to perfect your pitch is 99% of the program), and she's been the best by far. Five stars and two thumbs up for you, Donna!  All the best, Keenan

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  • Donna is a Wizard, a magician that can turn any idea into a story, into something that resonates, inspires with a touch of "wow" in the few right places that will catch attention. She brings processes into the way any company needs to build and articulate a message. All done in a fun, creative environment. But there is more... While building the messages, Donna adds so much value in the words she is using, in the questions she is asking that not only she can help build a presentation for any audience, but the outcome and discussion brings so much more, so many new ideas and angles to think about. Very glad I worked with Donna and cannot recommend her enough.

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  • Donna helped me hone my story when I went on TV for Planet of the Apps. She truly transformed the way I thought about my business and explained it to others. I can't recommend her enough

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  • Magic Donna. The only one we can trust to perfectly express our vision and ideas in words that anyone can understand.
    Thanks for the great work!

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  • We are a young startup in the IoT and Big Data arena. We worked with Donna as part of building our strategy, storytelling etc. Donna has a very unique ability to sharpen the message, crystalize the exact value proposition and build the right pitch for the company. Donna is super efficient, smart and well experienced.
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    Ran HirschRan HirschCo-Founder of A1C Foods
  • Donna is a magician! In just two hours she was able to convert our deck from a presentation full of facts to an engaging story! We even used it at a pitch competition which we won! She also helped us with our website and a few other projects, I recommend her to all CEOs who want to save themselves tons of time, money and disappointments, and want to learn how to pitch their startup better. Thank you Donna!

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  • Dear Donna Griffit
    Thank you for helping improve and upgrade my presentation to a level people both engage and become clients at the end of the presentation (instead of, I need to think about it and the such). What a great difference a one-time meeting with you made. You are a true professional! You know what people are looking for, and you knew how to incorporate it in a subject which is not typical or easy to sell. From the first slide, all the way to the last, you provided alterations, options, ideas and tools that were backed by your vast experience and knowledge. During an hour meeting you were able to teach me, seemingly, easy tools to get clients – all which worked like magic. Moreover, you introduced me to the very talented graphic designer Roni Yahel, who gathered your ideas and tips, and was able to bring forth my message in a most accurate and professional manner. And she got it in the first take. Again, the topic I deal with, was not an easy one to convey … until I met you.
    Anyone who is looking for a talented, professional and creative corporate story teller, would be lucky to be your client. .
    You managed . Kudos!!

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    Maya BarakMaya BarakCertified Professional Biometric Hand Analysis | Author