Top 10 Takeaways From Winning My First Pitch Competition

This week I won my first pitch competition after competing in over 130 competitions over the course of 4 years. Throughout those 4 years, I’ve pitched Hooke Audio in a myriad of ways. In the end I think I’ve finally found a formula that works.  Here are my top 10 takeaways:

1. Start with emotion.

Questions and polling the crowd is nice, but allowing your audience to connect to your solution with their own personal experience will get them hooked from the get go.

2. Very little text on slides except for the titles.

If you can’t pitch the slide without words, you can’t pitch the business.

3. Audiences pay attention to the first 30 seconds of your pitch and the last 30 seconds of your pitch.

Make sure you’re good stuff is in the beginning or end.

4. If you’re pitching a physical product and it’s already made, pass it out.

Pass it out during the pitch and get it back at the end of the competition. It’s insane how effective holding a physical item in your hands is in the age of vaporware. 

5. As Tom Petty said “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”. 

All these judges want is to know is how this will make money. Talk about exit, current revenue stream, and monthly burn. 

6. This seems simple, but explain the market.

Every product has competitors and similar companies. If you can’t you’re not ready for funding. If a judge is asking you “So how does this compare to _____” at the end of your pitch, you’ve lost.

7. Give the judges a lightbulb, but don’t turn it on for them.

Every investor wants to bring their own ideas to the table. And every investor wants to feel like they had the idea. Give them the groundwork for success with your idea. It is there job to know what to plant in it and when to harvest. Inspiring them to take your business to the next step is the whole point.

8. Have an exit, even if you don’t want to.

Every new company wants to be the next Nike or Amazon. But the reality is in today’s monopoly driven market of Time Warners and Googles, your odds of being acquired or bought are much more likely. Be prepared to explain how you’ll exit in 2-5 years.

My FIRST pitch competition. A lesson in what NOT to do.

9. Have SOME kind of IP.

What makes your product defensible? It could be a patent which is very hard to acquire, but it could also be a proprietary software that simply give you a 6 month head start over the competition. Accept that everyone will rip you off and plagiarism is the most sincere form of flattery. Just be prepared to explain how you will do it first.

10. Practice pitching your business in 6o seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes and one hour.

I’ve had to do all of this over the past 4 years. From my experience, if you can’t pitch your business, even if it’s 3D audio recording headphones in 60 seconds, you’re not ready for funding.

I hope you’ve found this list helpful! And if you’re interested in learning more about bringing a product to market, from building it, to pitching it, to funding it- check the links below and feel free to drop me a question in the comments section.



Anthony Mattana,
Founder, Hooke Audio


Producing, Making

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