Top-10 Things I’m Thinking About When ‘Catching’ Your Startup Pitch

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When I was a kid in little-league baseball, I played the position of catcher.  I loved being a catcher because it kept me in the action of the game.  I knew that the catcher was a very powerful position and important because I was not only evaluating the competition, but also the performance of the pitcher.  My job was to evaluate, mentor, collaborate and consult.  Don’t believe in the power of the catcher?  Just watch the movie Bull Durham!

OK. We’re today’s ‘battery’ and you’re about to throw your first pitch. I hope you find me attentive, focused and friendly.  But there are things about your strategy that you should remember  when you give your pitch because they’re the  things running through my mind as you talk.

Here we go:

  1. Target Customer – Who is the person who is going to pay you money for your solution?  Many people only have a vague concept of who is going to write a check, pull out their credit card, or use their Paypal account to send you money.  You better not balk on this!
  2. Compelling Reason to Buy – Are you solving a problem or providing obvious value to your customers?  No curve balls here, I want 100mph fastballs!
  3. Whole Product – Is there a complete whole-product?  Have you considered EVERYTHING there is to build, sell, market and deliver your product?  Many people do not realize all the moving-parts necessary to have a successful product. There is more to your product than balls & strikes.
  4. Partner Strategy – The key to success in business is relationships.  Do you have the relationships in place, or even the skill to make those relationships happen?  Business, like baseball, is a team sport!
  5. Distribution – How are you going to sell your product?  Online? Direct-sales? Franchise? Service?  Distribution decisions are critical to understand.  Don’t telegraph that pitch, control every aspect of your game.
  6. Pricing – The hardest decisions you are going to make, based on everything else in this list.  Is your price too high for the marketplace or too low to express value?  What are your profits needs and the return required to your investors?  A good ERA is nothing if you don’t win.
  7. Competition – A surprising number of times I have done a simple internet search which exposed competitors that weren’t even known to exist.  How embarrassing!  You better know every single one of your customers and understand them thoroughly.  No intentional walks, please!
  8. Positioning – What is your ‘elevator pitch’?  Is it succinct, clear and easy to grasp?  If not, your solution may be too complex or just not solving the right problem.   Sometimes you just got to be aggressive and throw a little ‘chin music’ to get their attention!
  9. What’s Next? – How will you grow?  What other adjacent markets are there available for you to exploit with your product?  Have you thought about your ‘exit-strategy’?  It is hard to focus only on the current batter, but make sure that you have enough energy for the entire game!
  10. Performance – Will your product perform?  Is it scalable?  Will YOU perform?  Are YOU scalable?  How about your partners?  Are they reliable and will work as hard as you will?  Business is a team-sport and you need to be fit to succeed.  Compuware is THE PERFORMANCE COMPANY and application, machine and human performance is always top-of-mind.  And winning!!!

So, good luck and let’s get started!
P-Cz