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Start-ups & Entrepreneurs

5 essential ‘Pitch your Start-up’ tips

Maya Karkour is the co-founder EcoConsulting Limited, a consulting company specialized in eco-friendly buildings. The company provides sustainable solutions for the construction industry, particularly in the fields of bioclimatic design and energy efficiency. EcoConsulting was born in London in 2003. Five years later, she returned to her home country, Lebanon, to open a new branch of her company in Beirut. Maya is currently the Head of the environmental education programme of the Lebanon-based NGO Mountain Trail Association . She has been supporting and assisting entrepreneurs in Lebanon as part of our SwitchMed team. Here are five tips for pitching your start-up to investors.

In practice you typically have just 60 seconds or a bit more to leave an exciting, impactful and meaningful impression with whomever you come in contact with.  Whether you're looking for investors or just trying to get people interested in your business, your success depends on your ability to explain what makes your business unique and to hook your listener in less than a minute. Though everyone has different ideas of what makes a great elevator pitch, Maya Karkour wrote what she believes are the 5 essential ¨pitch your start-up¨ tips.

Having started my own environmental consultancy, assisted entrepreneurs as part of the SwitchMed eco-entrepreneurship program, and being part of the jury on various eco-entrepreneurship competitions, I believe there are certainly some key points about the best way to pitch a new idea or product.  I am sharing my thoughts with you here!


1. Know your story

Start with a short interesting story about what you will be offering, if you have one... such as how you got the idea in the first place. And if you don’t have one, draw a parallel story with another similar one. The story should be impactful and engaging, and also should clearly lead you to your idea. It is very important that the story is linked well with the local context: what makes it suitable for the Lebanese market, why and which Lebanese segment should be interested in your business, and why in this particular time. For example, if your idea is about providing waste management solutions, you should explain it within the framework of the current Lebanon's garbage crisis, as your audience will immediately identify the scale of the problem to be addressed.


2. Keep it simple

Focus on the main messages and be as concise and clear as possible in your presentation. Don’t overload your audience with unnecessary information, don’t repeat yourself as your time to pitch is precious! The investors or audience will have a chance to ask you questions afterwards, but you need to arouse their interest first and demonstrate to them that you master your idea.


3. Practice your pitch

In order to nail it down to the 3 to 5 minutes that you might have for an elevator pitch, you can’t leave it up to improvisation, as you will go over time. Practice alone, but also practice with a friend or a mentor. This will tremendously help you in becoming self-confident and clear about the messages to convey. The more you practice delivering your elevator pitch, the easier it will be to sound conversational and relaxed. While pitching your business, don’t forget to be motivated, enthusiastic, and passionate about your idea! Investors and jurors will be judging the people behind the idea, and they need to be re-assured that you have the drive to bring your start-up on its feet successfully one day. 


4. Structure it well

Make sure to show that you have developed your start-up idea very well. Cover all the basics of the green business canvas, although not in-depth but sufficiently enough to prove you have looked into them, including revenue streams, costs, competition & barriers, challenges… You also need to include the eco and social aspects: how your service/ product is effectively addressing these issues, and in which way and how you will be doing this.


5. Make it attractive

If you are allowed to support your pitch with a few slides, go for high impact visuals to illustrate your idea or product, especially if you have a complex or technical one. Illustration charts, photos, processes with easy-to-understand icons will help you get the message across much faster and in a less confusing way. The least text you put in, the better! But again, you need to practice your pitch so you can support your visuals.



Maya Karkour is is the Managing Director of EcoConsulting which she co-founded in 2003 in the UK. You can follow her on Linkedin .

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