Yesterday I was participating as a mentor at Mini Seedcamp in Helsingborg where 20 startups had been selected to pitch their business idea and get feedback from mentors and fellow entrepreneurs (for more info about the event, check out Arctic Startup and the Mini Seedcamp blog).

It was my first visit to a Seedcamp event and I really enjoyed it! Very professionally organized, many very interesting people, and lots of energy. As a VC, it is always useful to get out and screen startups and ideas, but this time the main purpose was really to assist the startups with insights about the fundraising process, what it is like to work with a VC and help out with ideas about their businesses.

I found the mentor sessions especially interesting, because it really gave both entrepreneurs and mentors a possibility to dig a bit deeper and get into discussions about how to develop the business. However, it also made it quite clear that many startups in their initial 5-minute pitches hadn’t really managed to explain what they do (Jussi Lakonen also covers this in his blog post).

Although 5 minutes may seem far too little to explain your business and why it is great, it is often all you have so I will highlight a few things that I experienced during the pitches.

I think most pitches would be so much better if the presenter remembered that it is not about how much info he or she can provide, it is all about what info the listeners take away.

Here’s some other simple and (perhaps obvious) tips:

  • Know your stuff in and out – this means plenty of rehearsel and a necessity to nail the points below
  • Keep the time – most teams had problems with keeping the time and as a result rushed through too much material during the last minute or totally missed the punchline
  • Have eye contact with the audience – make sure you stand so all people can see you and look at the audience rather than on the screen
  • As presenter, pick the person in the team that is the best communicator and has a good command of the language – it doesn’t have to be the CEO and it is most likely not everyone in the team
  • Associate your company with a punchline, a snappy line that summarizes what you’re all about

And remember, you’re there to tell a story. A story about the most exciting thing in your life – your business idea. Don’t let that get destroyed by crowded powerpoint slides filled with lots of text and hard-to-see graphs.