Surviving the Shark Tank: How to Pitch Your Business Plan

Next week is Global Entrepreneurship Week, and to celebrate, Full Sail has a day full of panels and competitions planned. Campus and online students from across all degree programs are invited to attend Pitch!, an all-day series of educational panels in the Entertainment Business Auditorium that will cover the legal and financial aspects of starting your own business. In addition, a few grads will be sharing personal stories of how they started their own businesses in a special “Startup Success Stories” panel. (A full schedule of the day’s events is available here.)

[Online Students: These events will be live-streamed athttp://www.livestream.com/fullsailuniversity.]

The grand finale is the Pitch! Business Plan Competition, featuring 10 campus and online students who will each have five minutes to pitch their business plan to a panel of local venture capital and startup financing experts. (The 10 finalists, who come from degree programs including Sports Marketing & Media and Instructional Design & Technology, were narrowed down from a pool of an impressive 113 entries.) The top three competitors will receive $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000 scholarships respectively.

“Students will hear from some of the top entrepreneurs in Central Florida and experts in the field of finance and the law as they relate to starting new companies,” says Ron Cook, the Program Director of Full Sail’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship master’s degree program. “If you are a student who’s thinking about starting your own business, you definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity.”

We asked the judges of next week’s Pitch! Business Plan competition for their best advice when it comes to selling your business idea to potential investors. Check out their expert tips below.

 

Open with an overview.
“Open with your elevator pitch, where you tell us: who you are, your value proposition (value delivered, customers served, needs satisfied), what you do that is different or better than what others do, what your immediate goals are, and what your vision is. Everyone in the room should know the basic idea and value proposition of your company before your next slide is shown. Too many entrepreneurs launch into their presentation with the audience thinking, ‘I wonder what these guys do?’” – Dennis Pape, Founder, Florida Venture Sourcing

Show us what’s unique.
“Make sure you’re building a product or service that uniquely serves an urgent problem for a customer segment that is large enough to scale into a growth business, and make sure to be able to explain why it’s unique. The key words are ‘uniquely serve,’ which means your company will have a strong competitive advantage over how customers solve problems today.” – Kirstie Chadwick, Starter Studio

Solve a problem.
“Other than being likable, relaxed, and friendly, from a product point of view, the first thing you should think about is focusing on the problem you’re solving. As opposed to, ‘here’s my product/here’s my idea,’ what you really have to focus on is, ‘here’s the problem I’m solving.’ Be sure to really demonstrate that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Too often people jump into an idea with the notion of, ‘I have this cool thing.’ Well, what are you solving? Why is this interesting? You need to solve a problem. And you also need to demonstrate that you understand that problem.” – John Caron, VenVelo

Be passionate … and well-prepared.
“I’m looking for an entrepreneur with a well-thought out plan and the drive to execute that plan through the hard times. Passion comes through in paying attention to detail and thinking about the 3rd, 4th, and 5th tier questions investors will have, and having the answers for those. It’s typically the passion that creates the ability for someone to be able and willing to go to that level. Passion shows in how well prepared you are for your pitch.” – Charlie Dudley, Principal, Arsenal Venture Partners

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