Are You Not Entertained? How to Win a Startup Pitch Competition in 5 Steps


I’ve either attended, judged or put together so many pitch competitions I thought it would be a good time to share 5 main points on how to win one.

Yes, there is a formula and I’ve seen it work on big VC judges, media judges and the general audience. If you have these 5 things you will most likely win or at least place in audience favourite (as long as the other teams don’t read this post! ;-). When I sit as an audience member I can guess who will win everytime based on these factors no matter what the product is and no matter the founder’s experience level.

Luckily my friend Masaru Ikeda from The Bridge filmed the Lots of Buttons pitch at Startup Asia 2013 because that was one of the best pitches ever from Hong Kong. On the outside, it sounds like the dumbest idea for a startup – but it stole the show, the judges votes and showed the audience what makes a startup pitch work.

I’m going to discount a few obvious things like making sure the pitcher has fluent, non-accented English (this applies to obviously English pitch events), the slide deck is beautiful and not done with Comic Sans and that doing a live-demo is the kiss of death when wifi goes down and you have nothing else to show.

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