How to Tell Fantastic Stories: An Interview with Juan Guerra

Juan is one of those people, who fill the room with presence every time they speak. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious as he coaches and directs entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts in mastering the art of storytelling. From the day I met him I knew that I wanted to invite Juan for an interview. The Pitcher blog readers had to have the opportunity to get to know him and to learn more about the great work he does. And finally, the interview is a fact!

Originally from Venezuela, Juan studied Business Administration in the USA and for the last 6 years has been living Vienna, Austria, where he helps entrepreneurs tell better stories, grow their leadership, and grow their teams.

You have years of professional experience in helping first-time entrepreneurs get ahead by developing their personal communication skills. Looking back, what made you decide that this is what you want to do?

I believe there are two essential skills to your success, your ability to lead yourself and your ability to communicate with others (especially listening).

If you are going to succeed in making your idea a reality, you will need both or it will not happen.

The problem is that nobody teaches you these essential life skills.

That is why I love working with entrepreneurs. They are passionate, dedicated and are willing to go out of their comfort zone to make things happen. This motivates me to push back, making our development a constant process.


Photo credit: Startup Live Budapest

You organize weekly pitch training in Vienna. Could you tell us a bit more about the events?

Of course! I had the trial period in Q2 this year, tested some assumptions, and validated the concept.

Now I’m building partnerships and relaunching it in October with the goal of creating a place for local entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and improve by giving each other feedback on their business ideas and on the way they present them.

I’m just tired of the typical networking startup event where connections are superficial and rooms are full of people trying to sell you something with no value to you.

Already thinking of expansion but, I will let you know when it’s ready to bring it to your city (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) 😉

Why mastering the art of the pitch is so important in the business world?

It doesn’t matter how great your idea may be, if you can’t sell it, you will not get very far. Selling your idea will make all the difference between building your team, getting investment, and of course cash flow.

Because every situation requires a different pitch, understanding the essence of it is crucial to adapting your message to the audience and the situation.

That is why in my consulting, I focus on developing a toolbox of stories, together with a clear framework that allows founders to quickly adapt their story to the goal.

According to you, what are the top five ingredients of a killer investor pitch?

There are 5 things you must strive for:

Give them a story: just because your product will help people, it doesn’t mean they will automatically see the value in it. You are competing for their attention along with social media, life problems and a million others things. This is why you need to take them on a journey, disconnecting them from their reality, and the best way to do that is with a story.

Be excited about it: on the stage, confidence is the key; which is why a great way to handle this is by shifting your mindset. Instead of being scared and anxious, use those emotions to be excited about your pitch. If you really believe you will improve people’s lives with your product, then you must let them know about it.

Frame it as an opportunity: if your friend comes to you with a problem, you may try to help them but, what if a stranger would do the same? Well, that’s pretty much what you are doing with your pitch. Nobody wants to deal with a random problem that has been sitting around forever somewhere, waiting to be solved. But, what if the stranger comes to you with an exciting opportunity that seems realistic? I’m sure it will be more attractive.

Keep it as simple as possible: again, you are fighting for attention, don’t make it complicated for your listeners to follow you with loaded words that don’t mean anything. So, structure your pitch to help your listener visualize main points. For example: “This is why we have developed 3 features, first…”

And above all, don’t be needy! Investors can be intimidating, but don’t let them be or they will not buy what you have to sell. They need you to make money, and you need them to make it happen. Which means you are on the same level in this negotiation.

What advice would you give to the entrepreneurs, who will pitch on the stage at The Pitcher 2018?

Understand why you want to be on the stage in the first place. A pitching competition takes a lot of time and focus from the business itself. Be smart and do your homework.

Don’t go halfway, research the investors, the jury, the other startups and anybody who will be there who can help you move forward.

Keep in mind that pitching is a performance for which you need to prepare. The more you practice, the more confident you will be, the more natural your presence will be, there more fun you will have on the stage, the bigger results you will have.

Also, read these books: “Pitch Anything” by Oren Klaff, “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek, and “Slide:Ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations” by Nancy Duarte.

For dedicated, one-on-one support, feel free to contact me.


Photo credit: Tim Norburn

Do you have any cool and exciting projects coming up?

I just finished developing a unique storytelling workshop based on my experience with founders, entrepreneurs, and accelerator programs.

It’s very exciting to see entrepreneurs succeed thanks to the work we do in helping them master their communication skills.

I’m currently developing an online version of the workshop so in the meantime, I can do coaching via Skype or even in person depending on the needs. Find out more at https://juanguerra.net.


For more information on Juan, visit his website at juanguerra.net or contact him directly at [email protected].

The interview was conducted by Silvia Pavlova, International Relations Manager @ThePitcher. Get in touch with her at [email protected] and feel free to connect on LinkedIn.

Cover photo credit: Tom Roschenek

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