When picturing an entrepreneurial pitch, most people’s minds will turn to the popular BBC TV show Dragon’s Den. Business owners braving the scrutiny of the rich, experienced and powerful dragons in a make or break attempt to win funding over 10, or so, awkward minutes.
However, pitching a company or idea can take many different forms. The audience isn’t always an investor. Other people also need convincing that your business will work. Key employees, customers, partner’s, family and friends will all need persuading at times. And, often this persuading is accomplished over many conversations, rather than a single event.
Some consider the reality of successful pitching more like dating. You need to show up, make a good impression, put in some effort and show passion. But, at least initially, leave them wanting more and give them a reason to look forward to that next date.
Our journey through this 5 part series exploring the world of entrepreneurs and medical startups is nearly at an end. We have travelled through the process of becoming a founder, finding a good service or product idea, assembling a winning startup team, and identifying sources of funding. Today, in this final installment, we will examine the important skill of delivering a good pitch.
In this post, we will explore general tips for delivering a good pitch and consider some of the building blocks for constructing a versatile “pitch deck”. A useful resource to support pitching to a variety of audiences.
Pitching your medical startup – General tips
Take opportunities to practice describing and talking about your business and answering difficult questions. Family, friends and colleagues will be willing help you practice (at least a few times). Entering pitching competitions can be a great way of getting exposure to different types of investors and analysts. The first few pitches will be bad, so get these out of the way before you really need to perform in more important pitches.
Consider the audience, the situation and the length. Have you found yourself in a lift with a key individual and need to fire off that cliched elevator pitch get a another meeting? Or is this a 30 minute meeting with interested investors? Research the members of the panel, their personal experience and interests and tailor the information for maximum impact.
Tell a story…
The oldest examples of human wisdom and information have been passed on and endured through storytelling. Humans are hardwired to find stories more memorable and engaging than bullet points and raw information. Telling the story of how your idea was developed, or how a specific patient was helped by your product, is an effective way to illustrate the value or use case. Use narrative tools such as intrigue, humour and jeopardy to connect with the audience.
Remember to KISS… (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Remember not to confuse your audience. They might not have a medical background. Your training will have taught you to be careful with medical jargon, but many aspects of care delivery which seem obvious to those within the system can be alien to the uninitiated. Be careful not to assume too much knowledge and insight. Don’t confuse with too many facts, figures or information.
Learn from other people’s mistakes…
Watching pitching competitions is entertaining and can help you get a feel for the pitching style and content that might work for you. Pay particular attention to the questions asked and prepare your answers.
You can watch many pitching competitions online. Pitchatpalace is held annually and is a good place to start.
Develop and maintain your “Pitch Deck”…
Maintaining a collection of slides which explain different aspects of your business will mean that you can quickly put together pitches of varying, length, depth and focus at short notice. Pick the slides and information that you think will work best for your audience in the time you have and you will be ready to impress. Key slides to consider for your pitch deck include the following…
Pitch Deck suggestions for medical startups
The problem – Why is there a need for your company. What is the problem you are solving? Perhaps it is hard for patients to see a GP at short notice? Is it a problem that patients can’t remember to take their medications at the right times? Remember that it helps to convey your points with stories.
Target market – Who has this problem? How many potential customers are there? How important is it too them? What is the size and value of the potential market?
What is your solution? – This is where you explain what your product or service is and how your customers will use it. Remember that you can link this back to your problem slide to describe a journey and tell a story to make the issue more real to your audience.
Vision and values – This can be a short statement. It is often popular to compare a startup to other more established companies with recognisable business models. We are the uber of…. We are TripAdvisor for…. This can help people “get” your idea, but be careful not to be too cliched.
The team and yourself – Investors will be looking for driven, smart people with the relevant experience, skills, track record and reputation to predict success. People are just as important as the idea and the numbers when investment decisions are being made.
Competitors – Who are the competitors and how do you fit into the competitive landscape? How are you different? If there are no competitors then there may not be a real opportunity. If there are many then you need to be clear how you stand out.
Barriers to competition and defensibility – Investors will be interested in how difficult it will be for other companies to easily compete with your product. If you have a sound patent then, naturally, you need to include this. But “Secret sauce” comes in many flavours. You may have a crucial data set, licensing agreement, secret algorithm or process or highly specific skills or knowledge.
Revenue and business model – For many medics it is enough to simply improve care or outcomes for their patients. However, investors are in the business of making money. They will need to see how you will generate a return on their investment. Are you selling direct to patients, to healthcare providers, selling advertising, affiliate marketing, introduction fees, subscriptions, software as a service?
Marketing and sales strategy – What is the process for finding customers and converting interest and leads to sales. What is your approach and cost to generate leads and sales?
Traction and financial road map – What are your sales figures, profitability, and growth so far. What important development or financial milestones have you reached? What are the predictions for growth, sales and profit going forward?
Technical considerations – Health care is one of the most regulated sectors in which to operate. Medico-legal liabilities are significant. The expectation of good quality evidence to demonstrate effectiveness and support claims is rightfully high. Investors will need to see that obligations, liabilities and risks have been identified, addressed and mitigated.
Potential exit strategies – Many individual investors, institutions and funds will not want you to keep their money forever. They need to see a return on investment, and often will also need to see their capital returned within a certain timeframe. Essentially, they don’t make any money unless they eventualy get it back. It can be helpful to show them how this might happen. Perhaps the company will go public with an IPO, sell to a competitor or license a product to a bigger player?
Thank you for reading the final installment of my 5 part series on medical startup culture. These posts were inspired by the Doctorpreneur conference, which I attender in November 2016.
If you want to learn more about founding a medical start up, taking your idea to the next level, or getting involved in the digital health revolution, then the Doctorpreneur website is a great place to start.
If, like me you are based in the East Midlands, then a new HealthTechNottingham group has been formed by a group of local doctors and their friends in the tech industry. They can currently be found on meetup.com
Please take a look at the other articles in this exciting 5 post series about medical startups.
- Anatomy of a Doctorpreneur ⅕ – The Founder – Read here!
- Anatomy of a Doctorpreneur ⅖ – The Idea – Read here!
- Anatomy of a Doctorpreneur ⅗ – The Team – Read here!
- Anatomy of a Doctorpreneur ⅘ – The Funding – Read here!
- Anatomy of a Doctorpreneur 5/5 – The Pitch – Read here!
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Disclaimer… Some of today’s content felt quite technical. Remember to get proper legal, financial or business advice before doing anything.