Last month, i was invited by the folks at BecomeWide to take part at an event at BetaHaus. This event called BetaPitch happens on a regular basis in the coworking space. During a few hours, start-ups come and pitch in front of fellow entrepreneurs and in front of an experts’ panel who have experience in the industry. This allows to gather feedback on the business case and see where shortcomings might be.

It is a wonderful and scary experience.

During the BetaPitch, a group of journalists & bloggers were gathered to work on a more specific part of a pitch: the elevator pitch. I’m sure you all know this exercise that is about convincing someone under 3 minutes about your project. It’s a difficult exercise that requires work & precision.

Very much like during a speed-dating, each of us were matched with an entrepreneur for 3 minutes that was to convince us with their great idea. After that time, a rotation would let the next one in, until each journalist/blogger had met with each entrepreneur.

Why should that matter to you? Good point. I’ll tell you why.

Having to sell your project to an investor is very much like selling your-self to a potential employer. There were some elements that i thought could be relevant to an interview situation and that could make a difference between getting a job or getting negative answer.

Journalists & Media
Entrepreneurs & Media (photo by Dominik Tryba)

Start with the story, not the product

A typical mistakes all of us noticed is that entrepreneurs were so eager to talk about their product/service, that they completely forgot to introduce why their idea was solving a problem and the reasons that led them to create their company. This is so simple but it’s often  forgotten. Start with the story, the issue and then comes the solution your product.

A new company/product/concept is so much more powerful when it’s put in context and the audience is given the right perspective.

For example:

Vaikai started to  talk about their dolls and all the technology behind down to every technical details materials, connectivity, bluetooth and battery life BEFORE talking about the problem it’s trying to solve (and something everyone can understand and relate to): put children to live adventures and play together again, away from tablet & smartphones screens. The mission is really noble and the story authentic too: a father who wants his kids to be able to stay creative and use their imagination instead of playing Candy Crush.

Now think of the impact of the pitch with the story before the product. Much better right?

Take away for you: In an interview when introducing yourself, don’t start with your technical skills and down-to-earth achievements. Start with what’s driving you and the wider/bigger picture of your career, with what you want to achieve a professional. Put some perspective in your experience, a red-thread that will tie your positions and roles together. Describing your skills and how you are trying to fill that picture after this will definitely have more impact on the profile you sketch for the recruiter.

Smart Wooden Dolls
Vaikai Smart wooden dolls during the event (photo by Dominik Tryba)

Put some emotions in the story

An entrepreneur is usually someone motivated, otherwise, they would not start a company on a crazy idea. So you would think that during a pitch, their spirit is on the front-line, like a lion fighting for their ideas on the front line. However, this is not always the case. After so many pitches, you can sometimes feel the wear & tear of all those events. The tone is very monotonous and the motivation lacking a bit. Sometimes, this is also due to insufficient preparation. When you are panicking about what to say next, it’s hard to control the level of emotions you let through. On the receiving end, it felt a bit tiresome to listen to that kind of pitch at times.

We are humans. As we humans, we react to humans’ emotions

Take away for you: We are humans. As we humans, we react to humans’ emotions. This is something that influences our judgement and your recruiter’s greatly. So take advantage of that. When crafting your story, insert some light touches of relatable emotions here and there so the recruiter can grab them. I’m not talking about laughing like a maniac when describing for a successful project or going in tears for failures. I’m talking about authentic reactions to your story to give more colors and more depth to it. I’m aware this is a wild card depending on the position, the recruiter and/or your own character, but think about it.

Be relatable

All in all, when an entrepreneur knocks at your door to sell his/her great idea, his/her ability to make you listen all the way to the end is ultimately decided by how much you can identify to them in their struggle. It doesn’t matter how far in personality, character you are from them. If they manage to win you over with their gravitas and aura, this will help to believe in their idea. A lot.

Take away for you: This one ties-in with the 2 previous points and is quite difficult to achieve. Try to make your experiences easy to relate to so the recruiter can really “feel” where you won, where you failed, how your skills helped solve a crisis, etc. If the recruiter can relate to you as a person, you are 80% there, if not 100% for start-ups which look mostly at the company culture fit.

I hope this helps. More often than not, when you are invited to an interview, recruiters are already mostly convinced by your experience and want to check if you fit as a person. If you follow those guidelines, you are one step closer to getting your dream job.

Good luck. 🙂

Do you have good interview tricks you learned listen to start-up pitches? Let me know in the comments. Also, is “relatable” a word ?

PS : Those are the companies that came to pitch us that day. Check them out :

  • Vaikai: smart wooden dolls to take your kids outside
  • eMio: Car2go for scooters
  • Off-Time: blocks all your notifications so you can focus on work
  • Migrant Hire: Match migrants with talents to local companies
  • MiMi: Test your hearing and personalize your hearing experience
  • Pzartech: 3D printing & industrial services for professionals

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