Mat Levy works in arguably one of the most competitive industries — entertainment. The head of sales and acquisitions for Passion River Films, Levy is responsible for purchasing and distributing films. Each month, hundreds of filmmakers approach him, hoping Levy will help make their films accessible to a wide audience. After he acquires a film, Levy pitches the project to outlets like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix for distribution.
Levy took a windy road to Passion River Films. He was a contestant on the highly-rated VHI reality show I Love New York 2. After the show ended, he organized appearances for him and the other contestants, then began working on the business side of the entertainment industry.
In his world, there’s no room for small talk and attention spans are short. If a pitch hits the right notes, it could make a filmmaker’s career and bring a movie to the masses. If it misses the mark, a potentially great movie could be shelved forever.
The high-stakes entertainment industry can teach a startup founder plenty about pitching to investors and clients. The best practices are essentially the same — be personal, focused, succinct, and wildly enthusiastic.
Levy stopped by LIFT Labs PHL recently to offer some simple but important lessons about the art of pitching an idea. Here are some of his best practices:
Turn your pitch into a personal story.
Far too many entrepreneurs focus on what their product does, burying the personal anecdote about why they brought the project to life in the first place.
Keep it short and sweet.
Don’t waste time. Explain why this idea is so important to you and why you’re the person to bring it to market. Hit those points quickly and succinctly.
Explain what is unique about your product or service.
Something about your startup is outside-of-the-box, unique, and interesting. Make sure you’re emphasizing that uniqueness in your pitch.
Explain exactly who your target audience is.
Don’t guess. Do your research. Analyze social media data. Analyze demographic data. Learn exactly who is going to care about your product or service. If you come prepared with that information, it’ll impress a potential investor.
Address the elephant in the room.
If you’re pitching an online shopping marketplace, you need to talk about Amazon. If you’re pitching a new social media platform, you need to talk about Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your audience will appreciate your honesty, you’ll appear more trustworthy, and you’ll be prepared to have more meaningful conversations.
Be wildly enthusiastic.
You can’t fake passion. When you’re delivering your pitch, remember what prompted you to launch your business in the first place — and share that energy with your audience. Enthusiasm is not only free, it could be the catalyst that motivates an investor or client to join you.