076: Secrets to Winning Startup Pitch Competitions

I’m going to let you in on some secrets….secrets to winning startup pitch competitions that is! This episode was inspired by all of the startups I’ve interviewed, seen pitch, and the winners of those competitions. After compiling the profiles of the ones that won, I was able to see trends into why some would win and why others wouldn’t. This has also been verified when I worked with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington to contribute to his book, Put a Shark in Your Tank. Lucky for you, I’m a bit of a stats nerd and am giving you the short and sweet version of this so you can take action.

Speaking of taking action, not only am I giving you the secrets to winning….but….my team and I have put together a killer resource for you of all of the medtech, biotech, medical device, and life science competitions we could find so you can put these secrets to use and try them out for yourself.

Get the list most up to date list of startup pitch competitions here:

Ok let’s dive in:

Present your problem in dollars, not numbers of patients.

I’ve seen so many people present their problem like “this affects 5 million patients each year”. Investors are always looking for a return on their investment. They are your customers at this moment so give them what they want. Show them the return instead. Phrase the statement like “this epidemic results in 50 billion dollars spent annually”. Investors and judges are always looking for a return on investment and you want to demonstrate that by investing in your product, the opportunity for a return is available to them.

Flip your background so it’s dark and the text is light.

I know that doesn’t sound like much but it makes a HUGE difference as you can never control the lighting in a room. Sometimes, pitches with white backgrounds and dark text end up looking washed out. Instead, try a dark background with light text so the words really pop and look good in any lighting situation life can throw at you plus, it makes it easy for people sitting in the back of the room to see what’s on the screen.

Do your homework.

The investors or judges are your customers right now….not the ones who will be using your product a decade from now. Focus on them. Do research on them like you would your customers. Find out things like who they’ve invested in before, what type of products they invest in, what types of deals they’ve done in the past, and if they’re aligned with any causes that are in line with your product. You can even use things like where they grew up or went to school can build rapport.

Instill trust and confidence in the investors / judges

When pitching (and this tip’s for pitching to investors), you want to be as transparent as possible and outline why this is the perfect investment for them…..as well as why it’s not a perfect investment. This means being honest about the specifics of the deal you’re trying to get. If you somehow end up pitching to someone who likes quick returns on their investments yet your deal is a long term play, be upfront with them so they know what they’re getting into. They’ll appreciate it and if they don’t want to invest, they probably know someone that’s a better fit for you.

Perfect practice makes perfect

When I was a world touring salsa dancer, we performed flawlessly in performances and made things seem easy. It was anything but. We spent hours and hours learning and perfecting routines. Our director always said “Perfect practice makes perfect” meaning that if you practice without really dancing full out like you’re performing, your performance will be lackluster. Pitches are that way too. You not only want to read through your pitch several times but then get it to be like it’s a performance where you stand, walk around, and present to your living room, a group of friends, and even the local toastmasters club to build up your confidence.

Now that you know these secrets, it’s time for you to try them out and put them to use. Check out our most up to date list of startup pitch competitions here.

About the Author

Meghan M. Alonso
Meghan M. Alonso, referred to by Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington as a medical device development expert, is known for equipping medtech & IVD companies with the knowledge, resources, and connections they need to bring innovative products to market. She’s the IVD Product Marketing Manager for NAMSA and founder of Imua Services. She’s a contributing author for best selling book “Put a Shark in Your Tank” with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington, and the prestigious “Molecular Profiling – Methods and Protocols”(a must read in molecular diagnostics). Her podcast, MedTech Inspired, in which she interviews the hottest startups, experts, and investors, won iTunes “New and Noteworthy”. According to the Huffington Post, she helps clients navigate the complicated process of bringing their ideas to the marketplace. She’s a patriotic military wife, pet parent, founder and co-founder of 4 successful companies who thrives on guiding medical device and IVD companies through development and manufacturing. When she isn’t helping others, Meghan is hard at work on her MBA she is pursuing from Auburn University, staying active with her adorable husky Abby, crossfitting, enjoying great restaurants and fine wine with her husband, soaking up the sun the nearest beach, and promoting the adoption of shelter dogs.

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