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Welcome to guest blogger, Evan Loomis — entrepreneur, Techstars mentor & the author of Get Backed.  

Get Backed provides entrepreneurs with information on how to raise capital and build genuine relationships with investors.  Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders in this book.

The book is also a workbook that offers in-the-trenches, real-world advice with helpful data, charts, photos, slides and actual examples of the most important things that every founder needs to know.

This is the third and final post in this blog series. Look for our podcast Q&A kicking off in January!

Get Backed

Chapter Nine excerpt: Pitching Exercises

This chapter brings together the best in experiential learning on pitching. It outlines several exercises—some easy, some bizarre—that entrepreneurs have used to turn their mediocre pitching into confident, powerful, cash-earning pitches. The goal with each of these exercises is to build your pitch muscle, to help you get over yourself, to become more comfortable telling your story, and to identify the style of pitching that resonates for your particular venture and personality.

Be warned, many of these exercises will feel awkward. Embrace the awkwardness. These exercises are what the best of the best use to teach the art of pitching.

Pitching Exercises:

  • The Techstars Jedi Mind Trick
  • The d.school Pitch Frameworks
  • The Dry Run
  • The Spy Dry Run

The Techstars Jedi Mind Trick

From: Jason Seats, Partner at Techstars

How long does it take? Five minutes

Who do you need? You and one person who doesn’t know anything about your venture

You’ve got twenty words. With those words, can you get someone to ask you the question you want to be asked about your venture?

To play the game, find someone who knows nothing about your venture to play with you. Then, tell the person your elevator pitch. As soon as you are done, ask the person, “What’s the first question that comes to your mind?”

You may be surprised by what you hear. Jason talks about his experience playing this game with Techstars companies:

The entrepreneurs may not know what question they wanted them to ask, but they sure know that wasn’t it.

“That question tells me they think we’re in a completely different industry.” It’s about leaving the right holes, leaving an obvious gap for the other participant in the conversation to step into.

In the words of East Coast investor Walt Winshall, “Don’t steal their line.”

Entrepreneur: “I’m going to tell you the elevator pitch of the venture I’m working on, and afterward I want you to ask me the first question that pops into your head. Sound good?”

Listener: “I guess so.”

[Entrepreneur gives pitch.]

[Listener asks the first question that comes to him.]

Afterward, reflect on the following:

  1. Was that the question you expected to hear? What did you want to hear?
  2. What does that question tell you about what the listener understands about your venture?
  3. What changes can you make to your pitch to set up the kind of conversation you want to have?

Learn more about Get Backed.

About the author: Evan Loomis loves helping startups launch and raise capital, mentoring entrepreneurs through Techstars and Praxis. He is the President of Clarion, heads up Corporate Strategy at Corinthian Health Services, and is the Founder of Tradecraft, a venture fund and consultancy for high growth businesses. His first startup was TreeHouse, a first-of-its-kind home improvement store specializing in performance and design. Evan also co-founded a national angel investment group called Wedgwood Circle. Evan got his start on Wall Street after graduating from Texas A&M University.

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of your Dreams. Copyright 2015 Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. All rights reserved.


Evan Loomis