This is the last week to get your application in for the Natural Products Expo West 2019 Pitch-Slam Competition (the application closes THIS Friday, January 18th). Now, you might be feeling as though you're not quite sure of the secret ingredients needed to help your application stand out to the Mentor & Selection Team. And if you're selected, how should you prepare?
Here, the winners of the Expo West 2018 Pitch-Slam–Paris Sabo, MD of Dr. Brite–and the Expo East 2018 Pitch-Slam–Chef GW Chew of Something Better Foods–weigh in on how you, too, can rise to the top!
Do you have any advice on creating an application that stands out?
Dr. Paris Sabo, Dr. Brite: Let your passion for your brand and ambitions show through. Be honest, make sure your application is true to your brand values and what you want to accomplish.
Chef GW Chew, Something Better Foods: Really hone in on a very clear and powerful value proposition. Be more than just a product and speak about how your product is going to help change the world and make it a better place. Be authentic and tell your personal story.
How do you manage your nerves when pitching?
PR: I do my research, know my data, comparisons and numbers. I memorize my pitch and practice it until it's perfect. If I am pitching to a large audience or to a group of judges, I get very nervous prior to the pitch. To calm my nerves, I remember that I had years of training as a cancer surgeon to stand in front of large groups of people judging me and critiquing. Believe it or not, thinking about my surgical presentations for all those years calms my nerves. Think about a public speaking event in which you were amazing: a buyer pitch, telling your friends and family about your company, a speech at a friend’s wedding, etc. and draw inspiration and strength from it. I also do a power pose right before I walk up on stage and just go for it, letting my guard down and allowing my passion for what my sister and I created with Dr. Brite show through.
GWC: Pitch competitions are like the big race or game day and in order to be prepared, you have to PRACTICE. The practice that makes pitch competitions easier to do is when you take the time, over and over again, to tell your story to friends, family, customers, your kids, your dog, the mirror, anybody and anything. This builds confidence to go before the crowd. Also, tell your personal story throughout the pitch which makes it more personal and authentic.
You both took advantage of the Pitch-Slam prize package, including pitching at the Nutrition Capital Network Fall Investor Meeting in November 2018. What's the one piece of advice you would give brands who are getting ready to pitch?
PR: I take advantage of all the extras offered. With both the Expo West Pitch-Slam and NCN, we had an opportunity to learn from an amazing pitch coach. I made sure I made time for our sessions and if I had a question or comment, I asked it. My advice: take advantage of the free help, it is usually with amazing coaches and experts that you would not regularly have access to.
GWC: Focus in on your most compelling points. Since the pitch is only 3 minutes, you should really focus on items that get the judges and audience super pumped. You will have time to elaborate in the Q & A on more technical aspects of the business.
What kinds of questions should brands who are entering pitch slam competitions be prepared to answer during judge Q&As?
PR: Be prepared to answer what your market share is and who your direct competition is in that space. Don’t say you don’t have any competition because even the most “innovative and disruptive” products have competition. Do your research and be prepared.
GWC: Have a clear understanding of your product–margins, specs, current sales, or potential sales. Know your "why" and be able to articulate this clearly. Be able to back up anything that was mentioned in your pitch in more detail. Know the your market and your customers.
Did the Pitch-Slam judging/mentorship offer you any tips during the process that helped inform a part of your business today?
PR: When we pitched at Expo West, our goal was to grow our retail brick and mortar presence, but after all the advice we received from the judges and mentors, we are changing our expansion game plan by building up our e-tail channels including launching our own Amazon store.
GWC: Yes, the mentorship was amazing and truly helped me learn how to compact a lot of information into a short and clear presentation. This is helpful because I have learned how to focus on our most important and compelling points when speaking to investors and buyers.
What has changed since you’ve won the Pitch-Slam?
PR: All of the change has been in a forward positive direction for us at Dr. Brite. We hired on new, more creative marketers for Dr. Brite, launched 2 new products, moved our manufacturing facility to a larger space and completed a hybrid accelerator that has helped us focus more on growing our sales.
GWC: We are almost closing our funding round and the Pitch Slam win was pivotal in helping us to accomplish this.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in growing your business and how are you addressing that today?
PR: We are still a self-funded, boot strapped start-up, the hardest thing is deciding when to take on investment partners. We know that we need capital to propel our growth to the level we want but we want to wait until we reach a specific sales goal. Because of this, we have a list of potential partners we would like to work with in the future and are building relationships with them now through our update list.
GWC: Our biggest challenge is being patient with the process of waiting on the right capital to grow our business. Our company’s mission requires that we find investors who share our values and we have learned to search for the right investors and ask potential investors the right questions before going into due diligence. Also, “network, network, network”. Tell your story to everybody and anybody; people will start coming to you and sending people your way.
Any last words of advice?
PR: Winning the Pitch-Slam gives you access to some amazing benefits: marketing help and incentives, a free booth at the following year's Expo–yay–and so much more. Make sure you take advantage of it all. Everyone at New Hope Network is amazing and there to help you, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them with your asks.
GWC: Have fun, be yourself, work hard, don’t worry about winning, and simply do your best. This is all that truly matters and you will be satisfied with the results.
Want to apply to pitch at Expo West 2019 for your chance to win a FREE booth at Expo West 2020, along with over $40K in services from New Hope Network? Click here, applications close THIS Friday, January 18th, 2019.