Pitch Breakfast Roundup: How to avoid getting thrown out of Silicon Valley & other tips

On the second Wednesday of every month, Pitch Breakfast selects startups to participate in a mock pitch experience.

In front of a panel of successful founders, investors and other experts, each startup gives a 5-minute presentation followed by 10 minutes of commentary from the panel.

In short, the breakfast is a place where entrepreneurs pitch and panelists enrich.

December’s Pitch Breakfast welcomed three startups:
GIV — a digital platform that hosts product giveaways for outside sources.
22 Below — a company that has designed a koozie it promises to be more effective than both metal and foam koozies currently on the market.
ESTEEM — an application that allows boutiques to post stock so that customers can order apparel and have it delivered on the same day.

The panel for December included:
Garth Moulton, the co-founder of Jigsaw
Steve Amedio, President and COO of Technekes.
Travis Parsons, Founder and CEO of Castle Digital Partners.

The panelists gave thorough critiques specific to each business, but here are the main takeaways from the morning:

Communicate the five W’s: who, what, where, when, why (and how)

Kyle Bebeau is the founder of GIV, a digital platform that hosts product giveaways for outside sources. When pitching to the panel, Bebeau spent a majority of his time explaining the software he built to invent the platform that he runs today.

To Garth Moulton, spending five minutes talking about the invention of the company is informative but ineffective. It doesn’t give insight to the panel besides “what” they would be investing in.

In addition to telling the panel how the company was invented and how it operates, it’s important to explain why it was invented (what’s the problem?) and how it is the top competitor in the market (how does this product fix the problem?).

Who is another crucial factor, Moulton said.

“When people are going to invest money, they want to know who (the business), then who (the market) then what (the idea) — and in that order,” Moulton said.

Always provide statistics

Kenny Ramsey is the founder of a company that makes koozies designed to be more effective than the metal and foam versions currently on the market. When giving his 5-minute presentation, Ramsey said that it was hard to find data related to koozie usage.

That didn’t go over well with the judges.

“Saying that data is hard to find will get you thrown out of Silicon Valley,” said Travis Parsons. “You are better off making up numbers than not mentioning anything. No one really knows if your stats are accurate. Just take a base number, made off of assumption if you have to, and then make the story make sense.”

Parsons insisted that a key for many investors is understanding how their investment will pay off in the long run, and that requires statistical evidence.

Ensure credibility

Christopher DeValle is the founder of ESTEEM, an app that allows boutiques to post their stock so that customers can order merchandise and have it delivered the same day.

During his presentation, he explained his business plan, which will take effect in January of 2018, in detail. But he never explicitly detailed his audience or why they would be interested in the service.

That was a problem.

Steve Amedio, piggybacked by the other panelists, took DeValle’s pitch as an opportunity to express how imperative it is to be credible to investors to get them on board. Since DeValle’s business hasn’t launched, he couldn’t showcase what he has sold or how much he hopes to grow his business in the future. Instead he focused on what his business hopes to do.

“Credibility includes being able to explain who your market is, what you’ve sold and what your goals [and] capabilities are for the future. If you aren’t credible, you aren’t successful,” Amedio said.