Attend events that can open doors for meetings with CEOs.
By: Claudia Repsold
Photos: APEX Courtesy
How many times have you tried to get ahold of a company’s decision-maker, but you couldn’t get past the army of assistants?
Sometimes, all we need is two minutes with someone who really matters inside the company to present our idea. The problem is that it is not easy to get close to an executive at the top of the business ladder. Many people at the bottom are paid to keep them out of reach.
No matter how good your idea is, if you do not get the right connections, chances are that your business will never take off.
The Brazilian Startup Association and APEX (Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency) — both major players in the promotion of Brazilian startups and the country’s expanding tech scene — have created an event that puts young entrepreneurs in the same room as CEOs: the Pitch Corporate.
Each edition of the event will have a different topic. In the first edition, the topic was “Exportation”. Ten Brazilian startups pitched their solutions to improve the exportation and internationalization of Brazilian brands to representatives of three segments of Brazilian industry: the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association; Brazilian Cocoa, Chocolate, Peanut and Candies Manufacturers Association (Sweet Brasil); and the Brazilian TV Producers Association (BTVP).
Pitch Corporate aims to help startups expand their business network and knowledge. At the event’s “Reverse Pitch,” each CEO offers rare insight into their industry’s needs and expectations.
However, the real magic happens when all the pitches are done and the business cards start to switch hands. At that moment, the entrepreneurs get the chance to talk with CEOs and top-level executives who can really boost their business.
I was leaving the event thinking how essential such initiatives are to promote the expansion of Brazilian tech business when I met Andre Castro, the communications relation representative of APEX. He confirmed my line of thought, noting, “Every business that has participated in APEX programs has registered an significant increase in their business abroad. While some people are looking for a crisis, others are focusing on finding an opportunity, and we are here to help them.”
5 big mistakes you need to avoid when pitching to investors
We asked venture capitalists and seasoned entrepreneurs: What are the worst mistakes you should avoid in your pitch?
Most important of all: Breathe deeply, stay focused, and be brief. Then, remember:
- Do not pitch an idea.
“Do not start your pitch like, ‘I had an idea … ’ Who cares? Everybody has thousands of ideas every given day. Focus on what kind of problem your idea will solve. Start your pitch like, ‘I’m here to solve this problem that affects … ”
Francisco Milagres – Cventures Investment Officer
- Apathy is worse than desperation.
“Be emotional. If you are not excited about your own idea, no one will be. Show that you are thrilled about your startup and that you want to share that feeling with the world.”
Amure Pinho, serial entrepreneur and founder of Blogo
- Knowledge is everything.
“The entrepreneur needs to show that he dominates what he is talking about. He must be clear that he knows its market and trends. The most serious and very common error is to assume that there are no competitors. More often, competitors are not doing exactly the same thing as you do, but they are fighting for the same chunk of the clients’ budget. Samba Tech, for example, has recently launched a product called Samba Hub for corporate communication using online videos. There is no other company that does the exact same thing; however, several companies sell communications solutions for businesses.”
Gustavo Caetano, CEO and founder of Samba Tech
- Why do you need the money?
“Some entrepreneurs decide to attract investment for their startup, but they are not sure how they will use this money. In fact, they do not even need the money yet. They do not have a solid business plan for how to use this capital. Investors are very sensitive to this kind of uncertainty; they want to know for sure where their money will be invested, and if the entrepreneur does not have the right answers, this will complicate the process of getting an investment.”
Frederico Lacerda, co-founder of 21212 Accelerator
- To whom are you talking?
“Knowing your audience beforehand will allow you to customize your pitch for their needs.”
Guilherme Junqueira, Executive Manager at Brazilian Startups Association
BONUS TIP FROM SHARK TANK:
Mark Cuban, American business mogul