Special Interview with Andrea Barrica, Startup Pitch Coach and Venture Partner at 500 Startups

Startup pitch

Crafting an effective startup pitch unarguably is one of the most important non-business components of every startup strategy. Mastering the art of the pitch helps entrepreneurs to increase their chances not only of securing funding, but also of getting talented team members and experienced mentors on board.

Receiving advice on pitching is of a great importance for all entrepreneurs, especially when it comes from an experienced pitch coach like Andrea Barrica. Andrea is an entrepreneur herself. She is also a Venture Partner and an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at 500 Startups.

In a special interview, Andrea shares interesting insights on crafting an effective startup pitch and gives special advice to the pitchers at the upcoming ThePitcher event, which will take place on April 15, 2017 in Istanbul.

You have coached 1000’s of pitches and have helped hundreds of founders to raise money for their companies. It is clear that mastering the art of the pitch is essential element of every startup success. Why is it important for startups to attend pitching events?

It may not be important. Actually, I advise startups to make sure they know exactly why they are pitching, how it’s going to help their business, and what they hope to gain from going to pitching events. Networking and learning to pitch are extremely important for a business, but it’s mostly about timing. Until you have a product people want and a great team, I advise founders to remain “heads down.”

As you specialize in storytelling, a big part of your work is to help the entrepreneurs tell their stories in the most compelling way. What are the best storytelling techniques for startup pitches?

It depends on the personality of the founder, the product, the market.  If you have (impressive) traction, you have a Traction Story. If you have a great team with a previous exit or serious domain chops, you have a Team Story. If you’ve built interesting technology (read: not a mobile or web app), you have a Tech Story. The problem? Most people choose the wrong story, try to tell all the stories, or think they have a truly interesting Team or Traction story – when they actually don’t. If you have nothing, you’ll probably tell a Vision Story, which means that you shouldn’t tell a Vision Story… and that you better bring the personality! Hint: When you figure it out, de-emphasize everything else.

How can the entrepreneurs make their pitches more exciting, but still keep the main point of presenting the opportunity?

Cut out all the bullshit. When dealing with a skeptical crowd, bring up something interesting as soon as possible. Dave McClure loves the traction sandwich and bringing up #s ASAP. Some pitches start with a shocking statistic. If you don’t have #s, mention team brag, accolade, famous investor, anything you can. The most memorable pitches surprise, challenge, delight, educate, and inspire.

All aspiring entrepreneurs work hard to get their companies off the ground. Their blood, sweat and tears come to this moment – the moment when they get in front of the investors. The stakes are too high, which is why many prefer to play the safe card. Should the entrepreneurs think out-of-the-box when they prepare their pitches or it is a better idea to stick to the traditional pitch presentation formats?

My advice is to think unique, out of the box when it comes to the CONTENT, but perhaps not the delivery. Don’t rely on gimmicks. Be authentic and real – a pitch you could explain to a grandparent or teenager is the hardest one to prepare, since it must be simple and clear.

Creating a pitch is a long process that should be well-thought. There is a blend of elements that need to be included depending to the different situations. What do you personally look for in a startup pitch?

How I judge pitches: Is the product and differentiation clear? Does this pitch communicate the best possible version of this company? (I won’t know this unless I dig in deeper with you.) Does this pitch teach me something, surprise me, or connect me to you as a person?

What advice would you give to the entrepreneurs, who will pitch on the stage of ThePitcher on April 15, 2017? 

Practice out loud in front of people you don’t know well, and ask them the things they remember about it.

Don’t WRITE out the pitch first. Record yourself pitching, listen to it, then pull out the best parts.

For more pitch tips from Andrea, check out 14 Must-Read Pitch Lessons Every Startup Founder Should Know

Thank you, Andrea!

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