How to pitch in 12 minutes: Tips from Omar Sati of Dash Ventures

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As an Endeavor Jordan Venture Corp member, I was asked by the team to share some insights and provide tips to startup founders pitching to regional VCs and investors at the ‘Invest In ICT’ one-on-one matching making sessions co-organized by Endeavor Jordan and INT@J and held under the umbrella of the MENA ICT Forum.

Given the 12-minute time limitation, and the many traps I’ve personally witnessed entrepreneurs succumb to over the years when pitching their start-ups to investors, I put together a candid guideline of want I believe investors want to hear about your business in 12 minutes (assuming no interruptions, of course). This may seem like a lot of information, but if done right, you can answer each topic in one minute. 

Minute 1: Introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about who are you, what your position/role in the venture is, and what skill-sets and value you bring to the table.

Minute 2: Explain what the business does. In a few sentences, as concisely as possible, give us your elevator pitch (shouldn't take more than a minute).

Minute 3: What problem or need is the business addressing? Why do customers or consumers need the product and/or service? What needs are you satisfying? Show evidence, either through market research (primary or secondary) or from your own operations/analytics that their product/service is effective, demanded, used, needed, wanted, etc. Basically, what is your value proposition;

Minute 4: Who is your typical customer? Investors want to understand exactly who the customer is and why they need your product or service. If you're a B2C company, profile your various customers (gender, age, education, income, interests, etc.). If you are B2B, then descirbe the types of companies are you targeting (small, medium, large, what sector, what department, etc.).

Minute 5: What is your competitive advantage, edge, or secret sauce? Here, you should answer the question: what makes you unique or different? How and why are you doing what you do better than your competitors (whether they are incumbents or competitors-to-be). You need to show barriers to entry and that you can protect your advantage over time.

Minute 6: What is the market size? Here, preferably describe the total addressable market (TAM). For example, the number of Internet users is NOT your market size; rather, you should explain how many of those users are potential buyers or users. Also describe the expected growth of market. Also- this is critical- you need to source your figures or at least explain how you estimated those figures.

Minute 7: What is the distribution or go-to-market strategy? 

Minute 8: What is your revenue model today? Do you expect this to be tweaked/changed over time?

Minute 9: What is your exit strategy?

Minute 10: What do you need to achieve an exit? What are your milestones? How many investment rounds do you project? What are the resources needed in terms of people/partners/relationships/etc.?

Minute 11: How much money are you looking for? How are you going to spend the money? And how long will the money last you until the next investment round?

Minute 12: Finally, as you wrap up your pitch, explain what you will offer the investor in return, whether a percentage of equity, or a pre-investment valuation? It doesn't need to be a final 'set-in-stone' figure, but this is at least a place to start. 

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