Learning to Pitch your Startup

The MBA Entrepreneurship Club held a workshop on “How to Pitch Effectively,” on March 1.

The workshop, facilitated by Michel Safars, HEC Paris Affiliate Professor and Academic Director of the MBA’s Entrepreneurship Specialization, started with the participants explaining their knowledge of pitching and sharing what we wanted to learn from the training. During his introduction, Professor Safars emphasized the need to understand the expectations of the venture capitalists (VCs) at different stages – there are different expected outcomes at the seed stage than at the growth stage. He also gave us a reality check, saying, “If I want five customers and I want three VCs, how many times will I have to pitch? A lot.”

HEC Paris MBA Students learning about pitching with Professor Michael SafarsAccording to Professor Safars, the first 30 seconds of every pitch needs to be a compelling summary of the business proposal. Every pitch should also include an introduction to the people who make up the team, with an explanation of who they are, why we picked them, and what individual skills they offer. This is of utmost importance to building trust and confidence in our ideas, he explained.

We also saw five pitches by student teams and heard feedback from Professor Safars and a student volunteer. To have insights from a fellow student provided the teams with an “outside the investor`s room” perspective that was very insightful.

During one pitch, Professor Safars asked a student volunteer to wait outside the classroom until the team had finished its presentation. When the student re-entered the room, he requested that another student who’d heard the pitch explain it to the person. “The benefit of a good pitch is that once you convince someone, they will turn around and convince other people for you,” he said. “A good pitch is one that is repeatable by other people.”

Other major takeaways:

  • When preparing for a pitch, learn as much as you can about the person or the company that you are pitching to.
  • Interact with the audience throughout the session to gauge their interest and understanding of the discussed content.

Based on the feedback we received from the 30 attendees after the pitching workshop, the entire event was a success. As one student said, “It was so interactive. Professor Safars is amazing and the feedback he shared was so honest, to the point and facilitated learning. Eagerly awaiting the next pitch session!”

Text by Martina Bharthi Priya

HEC Paris MBA class of 2019 student Martina PriyaMartina Bharthi Priya (MBA’19) graduated as an Electrical and Electronics Engineer from India. She started working at Information technology and gradually moved to Project & Program management with Mercedes Benz Research and Development department India (Daimler AG). With over 10 years of experience, she is certified in Agile scrum methodology and is a Project management professional. She decided to pursue an MBA at HEC Paris to increase her knowledge in business development for startups and corporates. She is serving as Vice president for Support functions (IT, Finance and HR) in MBAT, Corporate Affairs responsible for MBA Industry Club and Chief Accounting Officer for Entrepreneurship Club.