Michael Scott — yes, the one from The Office — said it best: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Well, that may have been Wayne Gretzky. Or Michael Jordan. But that’s not the point.
The point is, sometimes, the worst that can happen is nothing at all.
Take the SubSummit 2022 Pitch Competition Presented by Praella and Pitney Bowes, for example: It all starts by filling out a form.
One form is all that stands between you and the chance to win $50,000 in cash and prizes. You have nothing to lose, and everything to win. As SubSummit Emcee Chris Chambers puts it: “If you’re a subscription startup, why aren’t you applying to be in the competition?”
If you believe in your business as much as we do, it’s time to prepare to deliver the pitch of a lifetime.
Tips to Stand Out During a Pitch Competition
Study the Judging Criteria
The SubSummit 2022 Pitch Competition Presented by Pitney Bowes and Praella is not a pop-up quiz. It’s not an exam filled with trick questions. It’s an event designed to examine if your business strategy is among the best and worth investing in.
If you can think critically about the growth of your subscription — its potential, its gaps, its areas of opportunities, etc. — and you’re able to follow the pitching guidelines, you could be among those stepping onto the SubSummit stage in June to compete for the $50,000 prize package.
“Make sure that you’re speaking to what’s important to those that are making the decisions,” says Susan Black of Wowzitude, winner of the SubSummit 2021 Pitch Competition. “You really need to research what the judges are going to be looking for, what the standards are. And you have to go through each of the different criteria.”
Black looked at each of the five criteria she had to follow, and asked herself, ‘In this three-minute presentation, have we hit each one? Have we satisfied the criteria?’ “If the answer is yes, that’s great, we included it. If we missed one, we had to revisit it and really do quite a lot of editing,” she says.
While the process can be vigorous, Black’s attention to detail helped her stand out to the jury on more than one occasion, and ultimately helped her win the $20,000 prize package in Dallas last fall.
Judging criteria will be sent to semifinalists from each round of the competition, not all applicants. SUBTA works directly with each semifinalist group to go through the criteria, prepare the contestants to pitch live, and answer any questions that might arise before the competition.
Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
Susan Black was not a pitch competition expert when she stepped onto the SubSummit 2021 stage in Dallas. In fact, it was the first pitch competition she ever applied to. What Black and the other semifinalists found is that practice makes perfect, and that is especially true when it comes to public speaking.
It’s completely natural to be nervous when applying for something that will require public speaking. Not too long ago, in fact, 40% of U.S. adults revealed that they were afraid of public speaking. If you belong in that group, there are a few ways to get over your fear and thrive when your name is called.
“I probably ran that pitch, you know, 20, 30 times and then also practiced potential questions,” explains Jacob Jordan of The Equal Opportunity Book Box.
Practicing by yourself is a great start. Once you’ve built up enough confidence to pitch in front of others, most of the 2021 finalists suggest you take this opportunity to take notes from the crowd’s reactions.
“Sometimes, I practice in front of my family and let them give me feedback because they’re very honest,” says Brittany Rhodes of Black Girl MATHgic.
Relatives, friends, strangers, anything goes, as long as it helps you craft the perfect pitch. Here are some other ways you can better prepare for your pitch, courtesy of the SUBTA team:
- “I practice in the car. If I can recite it while driving, not referring to a paper, I know I’ve got it.” – Jennifer Cline, Director of Marketing
- “Whenever I’m going to do a public speaking engagement, I record myself practicing and rehearsing and then watch the tape. You wouldn’t believe what you can pick up on when watching yourself do something.” – Chris Chambers, SubSummit Emcee
- “I always make sure to time myself in accordance with the speaking engagement’s guidelines. Let’s say it’s three minutes: I’ll set up a timer on my phone and see if I can fit everything I want to within that time frame. If I can’t, it’s back to the drawing board!” – Paul Chambers, CEO & Co-Founder
Watch the Tape
You’ve heard a lot of advice from the 2021 Pitch Competition finalists so far. How about watching them in action to see their preparation come to life during their pitches?
Since its inception in 2018, the SubSummit Pitch Competition has received hundreds of applications from a wide range of subscriptionpreneurs who all share a common purpose: Grow their businesses. While your journey is unique (and we can’t wait to hear all about it), your predecessors’ experiences with this event have laid the blueprint for your success.
In fact, there are hours of footage from previous rounds available to you.
When preparing for his pitch last year, Kent Scholla of Sushify sat down at his New York City desk and hit the “play” button.
“Right off the bat, at least for me, I noticed that people were either doing it with a PowerPoint presentation or without,” Scholla explains. “And that was something that probably took me about a day to try to figure out. Should I try to get this concept across in three minutes using a PowerPoint presentation or should I go without that?”
Watching your peers compete in the competition’s previous editions will get you acclimated to the format of the event, the atmosphere. You will feel a sense of familiarity and comradery before even jumping on the virtual semifinals that could lead you to win the big prize package. It can also help you understand what might differentiate your business.
Beyond that, watching previous competitions will help you assimilate certain aspects of the pitches that truly stood out to you and refine your pitch based on your observations.
Your Business, Your Pitch
Competing for a $50,000 prize package – which, by the way, includes $40,000 worth of in-kind services and $10,000 cash for the winner – can be nerve-racking.
Nerves are good, as long as you keep yours under control. You can do breathing exercises, listen to your favorite playlist, go for a walk, there’s no perfect formula. There’s only one thing you need to keep in mind at all times: You’re pitching something you’ve created, and no one could do a better job than you.
“You know this business inside out and you’re just getting on here (Zoom) and talking about it,” says Rhodes. “You’re getting on here talking about something you love to do.”
Your passion is what kickstarted your business, so let it drive you to go all the way in this competition!FREE Resource: “A Big Data Approach to Public Speaking” – by The Stanford Graduate School of Business.