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Pieter Paul van Oerle, Innovation Lead Netherlands at Accenture, is the initiator of the Accenture Innovation Awards. He states that the award is a practical solution for two problems. First of all, how do you keep track of the interesting innovations in this booming ecosystem? Secondly, how do you connect startups and corporates so that they can add values in each other’s business? He shares his thoughts on the perfect pitch during a Perfect Pitch Training at comedy cafe Boom Chicago.
Why do you think this Perfect Pitch Training is necessary?
“Let’s first take a look at the bigger picture. We started this award, to share new insights and enable new connections. Startups, SME’s and corporates all liked the idea. Corporates, on one hand, were looking for more specific startups, that for instance could help them with launching an e-commerce platform. That’s why we nowadays focus on cross-industry innovation themes and not so much on sectors or industries. Startups, on the other hand, were looking for more specific knowledge, such as legal, business model canvas or a pitch training – which is actually one of the most popular training of the Scale Up Academy we offer.”
Has there ever been an idea that didn’t see the light of day, because it wasn’t pitched in the right way?
“It works both ways. I’ve seen great pitches on things that weren’t fully developed or even did not yet existed. And I’ve seen great ideas that weren’t presented like they deserved and didn’t grow to their potential. Techy persons, who studied in Delft, Eindhoven or Twente sometimes lack the skills to give a stunning presentation. This is a bigger problem than you might think. It is a problem that you’re not capable of explaining your idea to a jury. It also shows that you aren’t able to explain your idea to potential customers. That’s a fundamental problem.”
What is the pitch you will never forget?
“ZINC’s pitch, a startup that has a blockchain solution for people for without a birth certificate or passport. The founder started his story by telling about his personal life. He doesn’t have a birth certificate and goes through the serious trouble when he applies for his driver’s license. He makes his story quite personal in this way, so you’ll automatically feel for him and his mission. By making your story personal, a societal problem is better understood by your audience.”
Nice. Any other pitch you still recall?
“Waka Waka, the startup that wants to provide save lights for Africa, had won several prices on one day. That’s a success never achieved by any other startup that participated in the Accenture Innovation Awards. They really focused on the why and described very precise the problems that they wanted to solve with saver light facilities. Same goes for Peerby. Their pitch started with a personal story and soon shifted to the problems that they wanted to solve.”
Do you have any other pitch tips and tricks?
“Presence is important. Enthusiasm works. In the end, you just want to be remembered by the jury and the other visitors of the pitches. You’ll succeed in this if you are able to convince people that your solution works for a certain problem. Humor helps, but not every story or pitch needs a joke. Ambassadors or backing help. Show that there is traction. Think of pre-orders, a backing from an investor or media influential. If the New York Times calls you The Next Big Thing, add that to your pitch. Be there and make an actual connection with the jury and the crowd, by interacting for instance. If you don’t connect, chances are slim you’ll actually be part of anyone’s memory of the pitches that day.”