Pitch and win: Strategies from Deloitte’s Skip Braun

You don’t want to get kicked out of an investor’s office with $0 to show for your brand-new startup.

Don’t worry. Skip Braun can help you.

Having advised startups and growing businesses of all types and sizes for more than 30 years, this partner at Deloitte has developed a keen sense of what will “hit” with an investor — and what will earn your pitch an eye-roll or dismissal. He shared some advice earlier today with more than 100 students at TrepCon, the Gabelli School’s annual entrepreneurship conference.

Mr. Braun presented his framework for a 12-slide presentation that any entrepreneur, small-business owner or other investment-seeker could use to get a funding source on board. But the lessons woven through these 12 slides are useful for anyone pitching anything in business — even yourself.

Here are a few across-the-board valuable points from Mr. Braun’s talk:

  • Get the person’s attention from minute one. Hook your audience immediately.
  • Know that you have competition. You always have competition. Raise yourself above your competition by defining your personal advantage and by supporting your claims with specific testimonals or references from other people. This is especially powerful if the references you’re mentioning have a connection with, or are at least known to, the person you’re approaching.
  • Think about your milestones and accomplishments. Be able to name them. “Each milestone defines success, and success defines your credibility.”
  • Be realistic. Talking too big of a game, when you can’t back it up, is one of the fastest routes toward undermining your credibility. (There’s that phenomenon of credibility again. Its importance cannot be overestimated!)
  • Be able to tell a good story in two minutes or less. Make your story compelling and memorable, and the person you’re meeting will remember you through your tale.

Each Fordham student can do this to win any kind of internship or job, or even some sought-after startup funding, Mr. Braun said. He pointed out that Deloitte has hired many Gabelli School graduates, who tend to do very well and have a strong presence on leadership teams throughout the firm.

“What I’m telling you isn’t science,” Mr. Braun told the students. “In business, a lot of things are an art.” This is an art that, with a little practice, any student can master.

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