• Eric Molin

Pitching the next Unicorn - Impact Presenting Pitch Training, Frankfurt, Germany

Updated: Jun 17

By the end of the class, we were pointing to the next Unicorn - which would hopefully be one of the startups from our group. Start up pitch seminar@Merck Pharmaceuticals,Germany

Every year Merck Pharmaceuticals hosts an pitch day for the most promising start-ups in their in-house accelerator program.


One area in which the accelerator supports their start-ups is is the service of a public speaking expert while preparing for the big day: Pitch day, where the top team would win financing. Here is their story, some of which can hopefully help you if you have to pitch your own business.

My 2 teams were experts in using Artificial Intelligence in the medical field (specifically, using AI to do an initial diagnosis of MRI scans), and they were a combination of doctors and lawyers.

We began the day covering the pitch day rules: each company pitching for investment exactly 10 slides and exactly 5 minutes.

In this kind of situation, practice is the most important thing you can do to get a feeling for what is "too much information". So we did practice rounds, one after another. The first lesson was about the benefit of using a visible countdown timer. There are phone apps available, which changes colors when it gets close to the end, first to yellow, then to red. This works much better than trying to keep an eye on the exact time, which when you phone is laying nearby, is hard to do.

With each practice round, the presenters shortened their pitches down to the bare necessities. So all "nice to know" points were eliminated and we were just down to the "need to know" points.

Our next focus was on the slides. A 10 slide deck is a staple of start-up pitch days everywhere. While in their case it was fixed what every start-up needed to have, a lot times this will be up to the individual. So if you find yourself in this situation the ideal slide deck would look something like this:

1) A title slide

2) The problem to be solved

3) The background of the problem (i.e. why previous solutions have not worked or are no longer ideal)

4) The product/service you are pitching with it's features/benefits

5) Comparing to the competition

6) The market and potential market

7) The core management team

8) The money needed, for what, and when to be repaid

9) Future forecasts

10) Closing slide with the call-to-action

Of course this is not cut in stone, and there are different schools of thought out there what to cover or not cover or in which order the slides should be. Look at a similar structuring recommended by Guy Kawasaki, a true icon in the start-up world, with his own 10 slide method https://guykawasaki.com/the-only-10-slides-you-need-in-your-pitch/

We finally covered, most importantly, asking for the investment. Financiers, investors, and other executives love to see confidence. They want to hear the confidence in your voice when asking for the money. If you don't believe enough in your idea to ask confidently, then your audience won't believe in it enough to give it to you. As a part of the Impact Presenting system, we have step 2, "Call to Action" and everyone practiced their own personalized call to action until they felt ready to go!

Unfortunately another team won that day. But they made it to 2nd place, which got them noticed and we've been hearing good things.

If you would like to have your start-up pitch assessed, let us know.

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