Recap: Pitching Your Startup

Editor’s Note: This is an event recap by Caroline Veilleux-Foppiano (Ambassador – Student Exec Team) from last week’s workshop on how to pitch your startup. She’ll walk you through a clear summary of what the Dos and Don’ts are when it comes to pitching, including examples. If you want the slides from the event, go here. If you want Guillaume’s checklist for pitches, go here

Guillaume Racine held a pitching workshop for the semi-finalist Dobson Cup teams. He is the co-founder of Return Magic, a startup providing return software to ecommerce merchants, which has been bought by Shopify. He is also an angel investor, allowing him to share knowledge from both sides of the entrepreneurship world. 


The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching:

  • Be a line and not a dot: Build a relationship with an investor before asking for something: let them know who you are and your idea. Early on, Return Magic compiled a list of possible investors and emailed them a monthly update, including their accomplishments and progress. This allowed investors to see their evolution over time, which they appreciated – and it showed that they were actually improving. 
  • Do your research: Know your investor so that you can cater your pitch to them.
  • Love the game: You must be fully present and engaged with the process of developing your startup. Showing genuine passion and confidence for your project, will help you.
  • Roll with the punches: Rejections can be hard to deal with, but every pitch is a battle. You won’t win every time, but you must keep your composure and keep improving.
  • Mind the timing: There are many things you can’t control, like when you will find the perfect co-founder. But you can control when you choose to go to market or when to ask for something. By waiting you allow yourself to tell the best story of you and your startup. Wait for your story be tight and have the metrics to back you up.
  • Show your magic: Lead with what has made you successful and special. Maybe it’s your team, or your large achievements using a small amount of resources.
  • Eat, sleep, repeat: Repeat your pitch 40 to 50 times before you present, it should be second nature which will allow you to read the room and focus on the audience.
  • Don’t have all the answers: You don’t need to have an answer for every question. Never make up an answer, just say you don’t know but will follow up.
  • Do follow up: After a pitch, follow up and thank your audience for their time and answer a question they had that you might not have been able to answer. Showing your hustle and persistence by sharing progress and how you are working with their feedback, is how you make an impression.

The Q&A Period:

This period is more important than most think, since it’s when the judges will make their decisions. A long answer will waste time that could be used answering more questions. So, when answering the questions be very straight to the point. You can achieve this by thinking of a headline for your answer and using that. Allowing the judges to inquire more if they would like and showing you have clear thinking around your idea. If your pitch is good, the judges will be curious to learn more and will try to poke holes in your idea. If you can stay strong during the questions, it will show the strength of your startup. To prepare for this, find someone to listen to your pitch and play devil’s advocate. Have them ask harsh and tough questions so you are ready for them.

Guillaume shared his experiences from being both an entrepreneur and an angel investor to the workshop which allowed for a great learning experience for everyone attending the workshop. The last thing he shared was to bring who you are and be yourself during your pitch. It will shine through and speak to your audience.

Dobson Chronicles

Dobson Chronicles

The Dobson Chronicles is the official blog of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.