You could stage a fabulously dramatic pitch on any one of the Cambridge Judge Business School staircases. You could… But we didn’t. In a building famous for the architectural bravura of its public spaces, soaring painted ceilings and massive windows, our pitching workshop actually takes place in the Computer Lab: light enough, but tending to airless and with some challenging acoustics. Fine for individual study and research, but not quite the best venue for our new cohort of ventures to hone their pitching style. So on Friday we moaned for a bit, speculated on likely snowfall outside, and then got on with it.
The brief for the day
AM: Eleven ventures pitch for five minutes each from 10 til 1.30. Accelerate dragons Simon Stockley, myself and coaching colleague Charles Payne, give out feedback. (Most of) our entrepreneurs take it on the chin.
PM: Ventures spend a couple of hours improving their presentations and cutting them down to four minutes.
Then, as dusk falls over a chilly and wintry Cambridge, they pitch again to Hanadi, Director and Smaug of Accelerate Cambridge. 7PM: Emerge with gratitude into the spacious reception area. Seek food, light, comfortable banquette seating, and a bottle of red.
You can read about our new cohort’s actual enterprises. Friday’s pitching efforts were all about impact. And now they’ve survived our version of the ice bucket challenge, we’re expecting each venture to recast and rewrite all their descriptions and value propositions using the shock and awe approach Hanadi favours.
In the meantime, from one whose mantra is why whisper when you can sing? here are some of my feedback notes to fledgling ventures in search of pitch perfection.
- Use Angelina Jolie
- What’s the blank butterfly slide doing?
- Dramatise the problem sooner
- You threw away your proof of concept
- Too long
- And the money comes from where?
- Surface – no substance
- Tactics in place of strategy
- Where’s the pain?
- Show, don’t tell – story?
- Like the Rolls Royce analogy
- Great visuals
- More confidence in your product!
- Too much text – font illegible
- This is just an idea – what’ve you done?
- Don’t assume prior knowledge
- What are you asking for?
- How will this change the world?
Blog post author Kaye Coleman-Rooney is businesswoman and Accelerate Cambridge coach. Her career spans broadcast media and corporate affairs, and includes international experience in the Middle East and South East Asia. Based here in Cambridge, she runs strategic marketing communications consultancy Doing Words Communications.