Startup Zone help­ing lo­cal busi­nesses with pre­sen­ta­tion skills

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WEEKEND BUSINESS - BY TER­RENCE MCEACHERN Ter­rence.McEachern@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/ter­ry_mcn

Some­times a good pitch can be all that stands in the way of a busi­ness get­ting an in­vestor or com­mu­ni­cat­ing the value of a prod­uct to a cus­tomer.

To help lo­cal busi­nesses at any stage in their de­vel­op­ment re­fine the art of the pitch, Startup Zone is hold­ing a com­pe­ti­tion for 12 fi­nal­ists on Aug. 23.

What makes this dif­fer­ent from other com­pe­ti­tions is this one is sched­uled to have well­known pitch coach, Per­mjot Valia, on hand to ed­u­cate fi­nal­ists on de­liv­er­ing a suc­cess­ful pre­sen­ta­tion.

“You’ll sub­mit your idea, but then we’re go­ing to work with you to take it to that next step,” said Doug Keefe, in­terim CEO of Char­lot­te­town’s Startup Zone.

A good pitch in­volves clearly com­mu­ni­cat­ing the value of the prod­uct but also grabs some­one’s at­ten­tion right away and main­tains pos­i­tive en­ergy through­out the pre­sen­ta­tion, Keefe said.

At the end of a good pitch, the in­vestor or con­sumer should be will­ing to take ac­tion and pro­ceed to the next step for what was pre­sented.

On the other hand, pitches prob­a­bly have “more ways they go wrong than right,” said Keefe.

One com­mon sign of a bad pitch is low en­ergy or low en­gage­ment lev­els.

“Your pas­sion for the sub­ject doesn’t re­ally come through. That’s some­thing that is re­ally tan­gi­ble,” he said.

“When­ever some­body is lis­ten­ing to your pitch, if you’re not in­vested, they’re not in­vested.”

An­other way pitches go bad is by hav­ing a “me” fo­cus, said Keefe.

“Peo­ple will talk about the ben­e­fit to them­selves as a com­pany as op­posed to the ben­e­fit that the com­pany is de­liv­er­ing to the per­son.”

The com­pe­ti­tion re­quired po­ten­tial con­tes­tants to sub­mit short video pitches on­line to Startup Zone ear­lier this month.

The top prize in­volves air­fare and tick­ets to the Sin­gu­lar­i­tyU Canada Sum­mit on Oct. 11- 12 in Toronto. Startup Zone is a com­mu­nity part­ner and spon­sor for the sum­mit and will be live stream­ing the event in Char­lot­te­town.

The Char­lot­te­town com­pe­ti­tion and awards event is sched­uled for Aug. 23 be­gin­ning at 6 p.m. on at Startup Zone’s Queen Street lo­ca­tion.

Keefe didn’t hes­i­tate to say that an­other pitch com­pe­ti­tion will be held again in the near fu­ture.

“It’s an im­por­tant skill for com­pa­nies, re­gard­less of what stage they’re at. It’s one of those things where you’re never go­ing to hit per­fec­tion. So, it’s al­ways some­thing, no mat­ter where you’re at, that you’re go­ing to have to com­mit to it.”

TER­RENCE MCEACHERN/THE GUARDIAN

Doug Keefe, in­terim CEO of Startup Zone, said a good pitch grabs some­one’s at­ten­tion right away and main­tains pos­i­tive en­ergy through­out the pre­sen­ta­tion.

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