Michele Spiezia spills some advice she received from investors on when you should define your target audience and where to go into more detail.
By Michele Spiezia (Founder & CEO, Bespoke Social Media Atelier)
Until about six months ago, I didn’t even know what a pitch was, never mind a deck, ROI, or (god forbid) churn. But now, as founder & CEO of Bespoke Social Media Atelier, the ever elusive ‘perfect pitch’ is never far from the front of my mind.
As any startup founder knows, pitches come in all flavors– the 5-minute pitch, the 2-minute pitch, the elevator pitch. With slides or without? How about followed by some investor Q&A? So when my inbox pinged with an email from Women 2.0 offering Investor Hangouts– an opportunity to pitch to (female!!) investors & receive feedback– I couldn’t apply quickly enough. Plus, I could add a new flavor to my repertoire– the video chat pitch!
The prep differed a bit from that for an in-person pitch. Rather than making multiple wardrobe changes, I was toting my laptop around looking for the best lit & best looking spot in my studio. Instead of loading up my powerpoint, I was checking on my wifi connection.
I was met by smiling faces on the screen, and began telling Jeanne Sullivan (General Partner, StarVest Partners) and Morgane Rollando (Treasurer/Investor Femmes Business Angels) about my new venture, Bespoke– about how we are a workflow solution for creative professionals that combines the organizational function of Evernote with the visual engagement of Pinterest. I eyed my notes, making sure to hit the top pitch points–
- The Hook: For me, my 17 years experience in the creative field and founder of Films by Francesco play a big part in the creation of Bespoke. Opening my pitch with a well-crafted story pulls investors right in!
- My Team: My husband is also my Bespoke co-founder. We’ve known each other for 15 years, been married for 11, and this is the third business we’ve launched together. This tells investors a lot about our ability to work together effectively and get things done.
- My Product: Selling a company to investors that is based in a creative field isn’t an easy feat. It’s essential that I can outline what our product does and why, rather than getting lost in the features. For us, design and functionality are crucial, so being able to express this to investors effectively can make or break my pitch.
- The Business Model: As they say, keep it simple! Ours is a tiered subscription model with white label options. Enough said!
- Market Size: I’ve learned from previous pitches not to go crazy on total addressable market. Find numbers that are representative, reasonable and attainable, while being large enough to interest an investor.
- Our Financial Projections: This took me a long time to wrap my head around, but once I understood that the numbers themselves weren’t the key, but the assumptions behind the numbers, I was on my way to a more successful pitch. I’ve learned to think through the projections critically, and be able to field various questions from investors about dollars and cents, (good thing, considering my undergrad degree in poetry proves that math isn’t my strongpoint!).
I never would have imagined that poetry degree would be the key to a great pitch, but I’ve learned that storytelling is everything when trying to engage investors and get them on board with what you’re pitching. And since Bespoke’s key value adds to creatives are qualitative over quantitative, it’s especially important for me to be able to craft an engaging story around our product.
Both Jeanne and Morgane offered constructive feedback, suggesting I could better define who my target user is early in the pitch by suggesting a few key verticals & including a brief use case. They also advised that I include more detail on my go-to market strategy, especially since my personal network plays such an important part in our distribution plan.
As I prepare for four public and investor panel pitches over the next six weeks, I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to glean valuable feedback through Women 2.0 Investor Hangouts!
Don’t forget to sign up for our next Investor Hangouts session before the registration deadline, today, Aug. 7th at 5 p.m. PDT!
About the guest blogger: Michele (@bespokeapp) simultaneously became one of the youngest managers & corporate trainers for and elite NYC restaurant group. She founded Films by Francesco in 2004, and quickly became an industry leader, editing documentaries for the former CFO of Warner Bros. & Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque, and shooting the weddings of Nicole Richie, Matt Damon, Blake Shelton, and Chelsea Clinton.