Pitch2Win Champion Shares Top Pitching Tips

It was the finals for the Pitch2Win competition and I’d spent the whole afternoon practising with my friend, although I had no faith that I was going to win.

Firstly, what’s Pitch2Win? Pitch2Win gives students the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel with the chance to win £250 start up cash with the possibility of winning a further £1000 and be crowned the overall winner in a final awards ceremony in April. I had pitched in October and won the £250 and now I was in the final.

I turned up to the venue at the Innovation Centre on the Tuesday 26th April 2016, the final, and everyone was there, mingling. I wasn’t ready to mingle- I didn’t have business cards, I didn’t have an exhibition table, I hadn’t researched the people who was attending, I definitely was not ready. Then I found out I was going to be the first to pitch… this made me panic even more.

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I walked on stage and spoke about BeScience STEM, I didn’t talk ‘at’ the audience, I had more of a conversation with them, as though I was talking to my friends and family. I got so comfortable that I let a tear fall down my cheek. I felt very vulnerable, but my passion for BeScience STEM was taking over, I needed this money for our conference,STEMsocial. I was so sure that I hadn’t won, I felt as though I didn’t pitch properly, like it was very unprofessional. To be honest, I just wanted to hide under the table.

After everyone had finished pitching, the audience had to vote. During the announcement, it was completely silent in the room… ‘And the winner is….. [Long pause]…. Jessica Okoro- BeScience STEM…’

I sat in my seat startled; surely, they hadn’t just said I won. I messed up… I cried!

‘Jessica go up, you won’ my friend said… but I was still startled.

I walked up to the stage. I was handed the trophy, with tears racing down my face.

I’d won.

After that experience I’ve learned 3 things about pitching to a group of people I didn’t know…

1. It’s okay to show you emotion, it’s okay to show that you are really passionate. But talk with conviction, don’t let the audience doubt your idea.

2. Don’t ‘WING’ it, try and practice prior, have an idea of what you are going to say.

3. Have a conversation with your audience, let them know you. Don’t pretend to be someone else. No one likes that.

For more information about BeScience STEM, please visit their website.

Start-up Story: Auspicious Moments

Khusboo Raja, Accounting and Finance student.

We asked DMU Accounting and Finance student Khusboo Raja to share her experience as a Pitch2Win 2016 finalist and her top tips to other students considering starting-up.

Everyone dreams of their big fairy-tale day with the perfect venue, the perfect music and most importantly their perfect partner. But what we forget is the invitation to this perfect wedding must also be… well perfect.

‘Auspicious Moments’ is designed to add that exclusive touch to your auspicious day!  We pride ourselves in catering an array of invitation cards for the most memorable day of your life. Whether its chic elegance and bling you’re after or the more traditional type, with the finest craftsmen working on your precious invitation, we guarantee perfection and absolute satisfaction.

I have been in the creative industry ever since I was a child. I’ve created portraits and paintings, swiftly moved to the web designing industry part time to eventually getting my hands on a sewing machine where not only did I create my own outfits but then cat-walked my creations down various runways. I think it’s fair to say I’ve always have an artistic flare so when spotting a gap in the market that not only lets me be as creative as I want but allows me to make a profit – it was a no brainer!

I initially won my way to the finals of a regional competition held by a leading advisory firm PKF Cooper Parry as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015 where I battled my way to the finals and being the last girl standing, won! It was this win than encouraged me to enter Pitch2Win where all the staff were beyond amazing when it came to prepping me and offering support and guidance in their regarded areas.  

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Pitching at the Pitch2Win 2016 Final

The £250 I won from becoming a finalist really helped me to branch out and book various exhibitions to showcase my cards and rake in orders! Aside from the monetary help, the feedback from the judges was also incredibly helpful to re-plan and develop certain aspects of work further in my favour.

One of the main things I’ve learned is to never let go! There will always be obstacles along the way and you may not always win every venture you set out but it’s never the end!

I’m currently working with one of the top businessmen in the Midlands to construct a viable business plan and win myself a bigger chunk of finance to finally put all my mentoring to use on a larger scale and begin to exhibit worldwide!

One piece of advice I’d share: Believe in your idea!

10 simple tips to help you prepare for Pitch2Win!

Pitch2Win provides students at De Montfort University with the opportunity to pitch their ideas for a chance to win a £250 cash prize and an invitation to the final awards ceremony in 2017.

Students will have 3 minutes to pitch their ideas to a judging panel. Although 3 minutes may not seem very long, being able to explain your idea clearly and concisely is the first test for aspiring start-ups and entrepreneurs.

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We’ve put together some tips to help you prepare the perfect pitch!

Don’t waffle!
It’s really important to concisely include the key information about your idea, while trying not to venture out on a tangent, as you may run out of time and miss out vital information.

What is your idea and why?
Tell the judges exactly what your idea is and why it may be unique. Think about what makes your idea different and explain why you want to make it succeed. Is there a personal story behind the idea or did you experience a problem first hand which inspired you to create a solution?

Where are you now
This is all about informing the judges what you have done so far with your idea. Even if your idea is in the very early stages of development, think about how you have progressed so far and let the judges share your excitement and enthusiasm.

Customers
Demonstrate that you’ve researched your target customer by explaining to the panel who will want to use your product or service. Help the panel imagine what you see.

Vision
How do you want to develop this idea further? In other words what are the next steps? Explain how the £250 cash prize can help with this if you won.

Silence is golden
Especially well timed silences. After you’ve delivered a powerful phrase or insight, allow the judges to process what you’ve just said by having a few seconds of silence.

Practice makes perfect
We know it’s an overused saying but it’s true! Try and practice your pitch in front of friends and family that will give you honest feedback. You will want to receive feedback about the content of your pitch and your presentation style.

It is important to note that 3 minutes means 3 minutes. Once you’ve gone over the 3 minutes, a member of our team will have to interrupt you mid flow, so ensure you also time your pitch when you practice.

Prepare for questions
Very often the judging panel will want to find out more about your business idea by asking questions when you’ve finished your pitch. A good way to prepare for questions is to develop a clear understanding of the different areas of your business enabling you to answer clearly and confidently.

Final words
Don’t leave your closing statement to chance. Think about what you want the judges to remember. Have you got a website where they can find out more information or maybe you want them to remember the company and your name.

Always finish with “Thank you” and invite the panel to ask questions about your idea. “Thank-you” is a polite and punchy statement which will round your pitch off nicely.

Be passionate
Last but not least, be confident in what you are pitching, if you’re not passionate and have no faith in your idea, why should others?

For more information about the Enterprise Team and how we can help you develop your ideas during your studies at De Montfort University, please head to our website.