COVID changed many things, fundraising as well. Watching, attending and organising startup contests, here are some tips based on that experience.

Let’s start with stuff that hadn’t change -> you still need to analyze and understand your target audience, which requires a time spent on research. As well as learn your pitch and manage it in three or four mins time.

Startup World Cup & Summit 2020, European Finale

And here is how to dominate during an online pitch:

1 / 7 — Don’t Sit

During an offline pitch you would probably be standing on the stage, so don’t sit in front of the camera either. Not because it looks worse, but because standing up will allow you to breathe better as you speak and use body language easier. Make sure the camera is at your eye level (or slightly higher), it evokes you are in equal position with the others.

Depending on your budget I suggest investing some money into a better camera & tripod, here are some tips based on the budget. And make sure there is no light behind you and that in general the lighting in your room is good enough.

2 / 7 — Your Background

Launch the camera in advance and check there isn’t anything behind you that catches the unwanted attention. It means no laundry basket or scattered papers. My suggestion is to choose a background of a library or a white wall with some piece of art. Personally I am not a big fan of things like virtual backgrounds, but if you prefer this option, find one somehow connected to your pitch or business.

3 / 7 — Background Noise

Even if you gave the preps 100% there could come situations where your colleague, roommate or a kid starts calling you or talking aloud or making other noises. Then you may find useful one of the popular “noise cancellation apps”. Check out the Krisp app, Neutralizer or the Audacity. While recording our SWCSummit Podcasts we came to the conclusion that AirPods have the best level of sound (and also allows you to move around).

Also don’t forget to switch off your mobile phone as well as turn off notifications on your desktop to avoid getting “beeps” by arriving messages, calendar alerts, slack etc. Everyone will get distracted if it was their device of yours. It is the same as turning off your mobile phone going to the offline stage.

4 / 7 — Use The Double Screen

If you have the luxury of having two screens, set the powerpoint on one screen and yourself to the other one. Then you can watch the reaction of your audience as well as they can see your emotions and keep eye contact. Before sharing your screen, make sure you have cleaned your desktop and there aren’t any websites that the audience shouldn’t see. Also record your test pitch in advance and then watch it if you like everything that is going on there. It’s the same as you would practice in front of the mirror for an offline pitch.

Startup World Cup & Summit 2020, European Finale

5 / 7 — Double Check The Technology

The Devil is in the detail, so double or triple check the tech even though you’re being considered as an online meeting master. Check what’s the best spot for stable internet connection, that your audio & video works, your pitch deck is ready, you have enough battery and so on. Ready? Then double check it again.

6 / 7 — Deliver a Great Q&A

When the pitch is done, then comes the Q&A. Be proactive and become the Chief of the Discussion. There is no need to wait for the host to read the questions in the chat box or allow jury members to ask questions -> you can do it yourself and show them your attitude. Be ready to share your screen again and go back in your pitch deck or respond in the chat box as well. Show them both physically and mentally that you are listening to the questions and ready for a discussion. Encourage a dialogue.

Be the Boss of the discussion, it is said that the quote of 2020 will be either “you’re on mute” or “sorry, you go ahead” so give your Q&A an order.

And one more thing -> once the Q&A is done, be sure you’re disconnected or “on mute” before you start to evaluate your performance, other competitor or jury questions… 

7 / 7 — Follow Up

Once the contest is done, the next part usually is the networking, where you can mingle and meet everyone, get feedback, make new business friends etc. So get a few sentences together and write a thank you email to the jury members and everyone whom you pitched to.

You may add some “fun facts’’ that couldn’t be shared during the short pitch or send the pitch deck itself. I highly recommend do it via the LinkedIn, emails are overspammed and it allows everyone to see each other progress continuously.

Startup World Cup & Summit 2020, European Finale

Online isn’t easy, but you can make this all your advantage -> the saved amount of time shall be invested into your family or yourself. Keep some time offline to relax your mind. And then go back into online fundraising. You might be able to reach any investor in the world within just one call.

So make it count!

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