Yesterday I made a pitch to the guys at Geeksville on a real-time local mobile search service (similar to buzzd). We’ve got a provisional patent on a particular method and believe there is an exciting opportunity to use our technology in the local Australian market. (Email me if you’d like to know more about our plans).
Whilst I’ve made pitches for various things, internal projects/change initiatives, sales pitches and pitches to get people interested in my idea I had never pitched with the intention of getting financial commitment.
I went into the meeting with the view that no matter what happens today I win. I either a) walk out with the backing that I wanted or b) walk out having learnt a huge amount about making a pitch for investment.
Interestingly I think I walked out somewhere in the middle.
Here are the lessons I learnt:
- MAKE SURE YOUR NUMBERS ARE OFFERING THE SIZE OF OPPORTUNITY YOUR POTENTIAL INVESTORS ARE LOOKING FOR. My feeling was that these guys are looking for something that goes profitable in the first 12 months and breaks even that year or the year after. I went in aiming a bit low and my numbers reflected that. I should have aimed higher. Which brings me to my next point:
- Aim high, have a big vision but be realistic. I should have looked at the larger opportunity, I focused primarily on Sydney and then later in the first 12 months on Melbourne. I should have said “Hey let’s tackle Australia, then NZ and then parts of Asia.”
- Get your cost of customer acquisition as low as possible. Understand how much each customer is worth to you over a year, I only looked at over 5 years (way to long). Then look at how you are going to acquire each customer, how much is that going to cost? My costs were probably too high.
- Don’t be on the bleeding edge, be on the leading edge. This is somewhat related to number 3. My marketing strategy involved an expensive campaign that was partly focused on educating customers. This drove up my cost of customer acquisition and made it hard for me to be profitable. I need to cut these costs and find an innovative way to raise awareness and service use.
- Understand who you are pitching too. I should have spent much more time than I did in understanding who these guys were and what each company in the Photon Group does. In particular which ones, when combined with our offering could find substantial leverage.
- Explain your assumptions and your financials. I didn’t spend enough time explaining why my financial projections looked the way they did.
- Present alternative paths. With a service that doesn’t yet have signed on customers it just makes sense to present alternative paths. E.g. if we tackle all of Australia at once it will cost X and we can expect revenue of Y and a profit of Z. If we tackle take a staged approached going city by city it will cost X2, we can expect revenue of Y2 and a profit of Z2. These alternative paths should also be used to answer the question “how much do you need?”.
- Just when you think you understand as much as you can about the market – learn more. I backed up most of my arguments and discussions with relevant reports, studies and statistics however I still think I said “I’m not sure” too many times. Just when you think you understand your market, start learning more about it!
- What is unique about you? Make sure you can clearly articulate why you are unique and why you are the man/woman/team to do the job. At the end I stumbled (at least thats how I view it) into our strong background in technology/telecommunications and the provisional patent we have.
So now I’m going to incorporate everything I learnt last night into my next pitch, the service and future pitches.