A winning pitch to investors can mean a product nets distribution all around the world, while a bad one can mean the product never goes
beyond a pilot.
But how do you perfect the pitch so when you and your team take a product to market it sees success, rather than getting stuck in the realm of ‘what if’.
According to Justin Strharsky, director of Unearthed, a Western Australia-based community of innovators, start-ups and resource industry members working to solve problems facing the mining sector, new products need to present a solution to a problem facing the consumers you are pitching to.
“One thing that is key for entrepreneurs to get across in pitches is the biggest problem they are trying to solve,” he said.
“Why is now the right time to solve this? Why is your team the right one to solve the problem and what would the world look like if you did crack it?
“The person or business you are pitching to needs to deeply understand the problem you are solving.”
Mr Strharsky said it was easy for start-ups to forget about the bigger picture and the structures in place at larger organisations.
“One thing they often miss is what their product looks like at scale inside a large business,” he said.
“Start-ups are often very good at explaining what their cost is of rolling out a pilot or solving a particular problem, but sometimes they don't consider the large cost of rolling out that pilot on the part of the industry partner. This can include things like how many people are going to be required on the customer’s side, in the case of an industry solution, to deploy the technology in the pilot.”
Mr Strharsky said companies which did this right would likely see more success down the road.
“Typically, a problem for one of our industry partners represents a thin edge in the wedge of a larger market opportunity,” he said.
If you are brand new to an industry or have yet to implement your product, it may be hard to gain trust and credibility in the eyes of companies, a sort of ‘chicken and egg’ problem for many, according to Mr Strharsky.
“One of the things we have seen work in industry is to understand what solving a proximate problem looks like,” he said.
“If you have a solution that is to be deployed on heavy machinery at mining sites, but the hurdle is too great to be deployed onto a large minesite off the bat, you might consider going to a quarry first.
“You might find you have a relationship with somebody who's got a test mine or a much smaller operation where the risk that your new technology introduces is much smaller.
“It is about thinking differently about where to go to prove your first proof of concept.”
A driving force behind a raft of competitions held across the country to crowd-source solutions to problems in the mining industry, Mr Strharsky said a great pitch was only a small part of what was needed to get a new product off the ground.
“I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there who are really smart and build some awesome technology,” he said.
“And I'm really afraid they think all they're missing is the ability to pitch it, when really what they are missing are direct, deep relationships with the people who have the problems they're trying to solve.”