The 3 minute pitch

Last week I was presenting at a startup pitch competition at the Technion University in Haifa, Israel. After my talk, the contestants had 3 minute each to pitch their business idea. Some observations inspired by the evening, and not necessarily related to any of the contestants.
  • Do not speak too fast. It is better to make sure the audience gets all you say, than cram in a 10 minute pitch in 3 minutes. OK, do not go the other extreme and speak so slowly that it becomes boring to listen to.
  • Say what you are doing early on. Starting with a nice story and revealing your venture at 2:10 gives the audience 50 seconds to assess your business. While I always advocate to sell the problem, not the solution, sometimes you might have to cut the problem section short if you have just 3 minutes. "Gasoline prices are high", that is it, time to move on to what you want to do about it.
  • Decide what is really important in a first pitch. Some details such as extensive elaborations on revenue models or team backgrounds can probably wait for your second 30 minute pitch.
  • Do not bring up concerns that take a lot of time to explain, you want to keep the excitement and momentum going. Examples: complicated comparisons against the competition, or a defense why you picked a small market segment to start. Three minutes is not enough to present the results of a strategy consulting project.
The objective of 3 minute pitch is not to land the investment, it is to get an invitation to a 30 minute meeting.