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Fintech 24 May 2018

How to deliver an Open Talent competition-winning pitch

This is the 10th edition of the Open Talent competition. Since it launched, 6000 fintech startups have been through the doors of BBVA, facilitating collaboration with the BBVA team and wider ecosystem. But what makes a winning entry that stands out from the crowd? And how can you craft a ‘pitch’ that resonates?

Whether pitching for investment, customers or partnerships, it is critical that a startup truly understands its audience and communicates the most salient points of the business plan effectively.

With Open Talent, the judges consider the full business plan – the technology, IP, the team behind the business, the practical application of it etc. – but the ‘pitch’ itself remains key.

The success of a pitch depends on two crucial factors: the content itself and how it’s delivered to the audience.

Pitch content

It can be tempting to do something different to make sure you stand out from the crowd but this can backfire. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we recommend that you follow this tried-and-tested format for your pitch:

  1. Problem
  2. Solution
  3. Market Size
  4. Business Model
  5. Technology
  6. Team
  7. Financial plan

Always consider the end user and the pain points they are experiencing. For Open Talent, we are looking for disruptive fintech startups – your technology needs to provide a real solution to real customer problems.

It can be difficult to explain the benefits of a technology that brings an entirely new concept to market. To get your message across, use tricks such as analogies in which you can compare your technology with other well-known products: “The Spotify of…”, or “The Google for…”.

“When you are guided by your passion you stand a much better chance of engaging your audience”

But be careful not to come across as a copycat! The judges must feel that they are looking at something entirely new. Make sure you explain why the product is innovative, how it disrupts the market and what makes it stand out from anything else in the market already. At this point it might be useful to show your solution via screenshots or a walkthrough video. After all, pictures speak louder than words.

Nothing says potential more than proof that your company is already generating market traction so include KPIs that are relevant to your current stage. You don’t need to be at break-even point but profitability is something that will make any judge or investor pay more attention. Make clear how your business model works, the strengths that each team member brings to the table and when you expect to start making a profit.

Pitch delivery

In addition to what you say, how you say it is equally important.

In the words of Simon Sinek, start with your ‘why’. What is the passion that drives you forward and gives your work meaning? When you are guided by your passion you stand a much better chance of engaging your audience with the story of your startup, as opposed to reading it from your slides. Speaking of slides, avoid slide animations; stick to text, images and graphics; use 30 point fonts or above; and Powerpoint or PDF file format only.

Practise, practise, practise – that is the advice given to anyone invited to give a TED Talk.  Your pitch is no different: it should be natural and generate empathy and confidence, even though it’s being recited from memory. The important thing is to rehearse it – a lot – using your own words and respecting the structure of the text so as not to leave anything in the inkwell. Avoid jargon, speak with direct words, simple expressions and very clear ideas.

Pitch rehearsals should include body posture, facial expressions and movements in order to leave the audience with an impression of affability and enthusiasm. Shake any hands securely, look at the other person with frankness, don’t lower or move your eyes excessively, be attentive to any doubts or questions from the floor and speak in a relaxed and friendly tone.

Your pitch is not the end goal; it’s a crucial tool to engage your audience – whether you pitch to judges, potential investors or customers. And as you know: the first impression is what counts.

BBVA Open Talent 2018, the world’s biggest fintech competition, is now open for applications. Register your project here.

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