There are certain golden rules when pitching, regardless of who you are pitching to or what you are pitching for. I would categorise these golden rules into the top 5.

  • Be honest: if you think something is not possible or you don’t have the capabilities, don’t just go along with it.  Honesty will show that you put real priorities above winning the pitch.
  • Listen: make sure you understand your audience, tailor your answers to what your audience is telling you!
  • Be realistic: this can relate to the size of investment you are requesting from an investor or perhaps the timescales and size of a commercial project you are pitching for.
  • Be yourself: the common saying ‘people buy from people’ is definitely something I believe in. If you have a great personality and your team is a great bunch then make sure your audience knows it!
  • Identify & keep your USP: judges of any pitch (be it an investor or customer) always ask themselves, why you? What makes you and your team different from the other companies pitching?

In my experience the start-ups that are the most successful are those that are confident in their own abilities, but not too confident! A lot of the time the product or service they are pitching becomes irrelevant if those being pitched to really warm to the individuals standing in front of them. I have even seen occasions where organisations find a more relevant project to work on with their favourite team, if the one being pitched for isn’t quite right! 

It is always worth remembering that start-ups have an amazing power to reshape the world of business by working with large companies and ‘shaking them up’ - this tends to be the most memorable and successful partnerships for both the client and the supplier.

Finally, if you understand your audience there usually isn’t any harm in including a bit of humour in your pitch to build up rapport. Although, it has to be used correctly so that you are still recognised as a serious contender.