February 2023, I had the opportunity to pitch at Iowa's Young Entrepreneur convention. However, this wasn't your ordinary pitch competition. This competition was specifically your elevator pitch.
- Tell a story.
- No slides.
- No props.
- No visuals.
- Do it in 90 seconds or under.
Think you can sell someone on your product or business in just 90 seconds? Here's how you do it:
1. Paint a picture: When you aren't allowed slides, props or any type of visual in a pitch competition, you need to create a clear image in the audiences mind so they can picture whatever it is you are describing. Not only should you paint a visual image, but telling a story how it relates them. What is a common issue people face when it comes to your industry? Here's the opening of my pitch:
"Let me paint a picture for you. You decide to tackle painting the guest bedroom. You gather the supplies you have, only to realize you don't have any paint tray liners. So you run to the store, grab some more things, get home and discover that the paint tray liners you just bought, don't actually fit the tray that you have. But you tape it down and make it work. You get to the end of the day, only to realize that you're not actually going to finish painting that guest bedroom, so you slide a plastic bag over your paint tray and hope your paint doesn't dry out by tomorrow. Well lo' and behold, your paint is in fact dried out and clumpy, so you toss the plastic bag and plastic liner, grab another one and start again."
2. Tease your Audience: This could be in a humorous way, or in a not so pleasant way by sharing information or statistics. This is usually where you're hinting at the fact that you have a solution that they're dying to hear what it is. What's a statistic in your industry that gives people gut rot? Something they hear and go, "Ooh. Yeah, we should do something about that." This also helps them continue with that visual image you were already painting for them.
"What if I were to tell you that there is roughly 240 million plastic paint trays and liners going into landfills every year from some of these basic problems? And this is just from the average homeowner. Think of that 2-3x the amount. That's 5.5 billion plastic paint trays and liners going into landfills every year from DIYers and painting professionals."
3. Cease your audience: This is where you capture them with that ah-ha moment. You painted the picture of the problem, now reel them in with your solution. How are you going to make life easier and better for people?
"What if I were to tell you, that from now on, you would only need ONE paint tray for the rest of your life? I am Billie Asmus and I am the creator of the Repaint Tray. The Repaint Tray is the first silicone, reusable and recyclable paint tray, liner and lid. Not only does it save your wallet in the long run, but you're saving your paint too with the air-tight resealable lid, keeping it safe away from your pets and kids."
4. Share the opportunity: Because you only have 90 seconds, this is where you want to share the market opportunity and potentially some quick information on how you've been able to grow in the market up until this point. Do you have the ability to make waves in your industry?
"Painting is the #1 DIY project and has a dominate market of $155 billion and is projected to grow an additional 6% by 2030. While I'm excited to take advantage of the growing DIY market, I still need the financial support to bring Repaint Studios to the next level."
5. ASK FOR THE MONEY: I get it. You want to be humble and kind and it's always weird asking for money. BUT in a pitch competition, this could be your number one mistake if you leave this out. You could have a terrible pitch, but still have your head high and passion in your voice and walk away with the first place if you ask for it. Give a quick example of what that money will go toward and how it will make a difference if the judges award you the first place prize.
"I'm asking you judges for the 1st place prize, to not only help reduce plastic waste, but to help paint a greener future. Thank you."
Pitching takes practice, and the more you do it, the easier it will get. Regardless of whether or not you ever pursue pitch competitions, I truly believe you need the skills to pitch your business or product, because you never know the opportunity that may present itself when you're talking to someone on the street (or in an elevator).
Here is a freebie pitch deck I created, which is completely customizable, to help you put together the perfect pitch, and come home with that first-place prize!