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How to build a startup based on the principles of the Stoics

The pitch session is the most popular event format about new technological projects. The format has a number of distinctive features.

Strictly short presentation: from one to three minutes.
“Selling” intonation: the goal is to attract attention.
The presence of a visual component (slides) is highly desirable.
Everything else is the will and desire of the startup itself. Some demonstrate their prototype, others show the wonders of graphics, others make gifts to the audience. But, according to Tolstoy, “all happy startups are alike,” and therefore they use similar principles.
In order not to be unfounded, I went “to the fields” and tested my ideas with Nadezhda Anisimova, the main “pitch maker” of startup. In this team, Nadia has over 25 pitches different in format – so all the recommendations have been approved by a professional!

Prepare slides and speech
In one of our previous articles, we talked about different types of decks, including pitch decks. What could be supplemented?

First, let’s go through the design and structure again.

No more than three colors (the simplest and best solution is black letters on a white background plus a logo).
No more than two fonts (if there is no corporate font, then the simplest solution is Arial and Calibri. You can change the font for different products).
Monosyllabic phrases and expressions (if the pitch is in a non-native language, then verification by a native speaker is required).
Slides for the pitch do not mean anything until the speaker voices them. Pitch deck is more dependent than stand-alone.
All that you show is just the tip of the iceberg. You can include an additional application with slide answers to the most popular questions (for example, a diagram about competitors, the market, a business model).
Secondly, it is worth writing the script, the text of the speech and memorizing it. Yes, like in school.

The learned text is not a school topic in English, but an opportunity to improvise on stage within the set time.

“This is confidence that the goal of the pitch will be achieved,” Nadia firmly assures. Here are her principles for compiling the text.

Count that one minute is 150 words, three minutes is 550-600 words.
Use simple sentences with a standard structure: subject + predicate + addition.
If you are presenting a new product or feature, it is often best to go into a personal story at the beginning of a performance. “So, Ksyusha (company COO) was at first a shopaholic, then a busy mother of two children who does not have time to read bedtime stories, and so on,” Nadya shares. This works in Russia and Western countries, where you can predict the reaction. If the country is eastern (China, Japan), then it is better to take more objective data in digital form, because the main thing is not to offend anyone.
If you are telling from a scene about an already familiar product, then start with the news – keep your attention not for a long time with a familiar concept, but with easy information that was unknown.
The main thing is to answer the questions “what”, “how”, “for whom” and “why”. And everything else will literally follow (or ask a question).

How long does it take to prepare? In Russian, “production” is one working evening (about three to four hours), if there is any progress. If from scratch – then one working day.

In English (and any other non-native language) – a working week (we lay down more thorough preparation and verification by a native speaker).

Pick up speaker
Slides and text are inextricably linked to the speaker. It is unlikely that anyone will appreciate the brutal co-founder, who according to the script claims that he is a shopaholic.

What can be the general principles for selecting a speaker? Here are a few guidelines.

Audience and industry: for example, BusDev or someone who understands business indicators is better suited for investors.
A game of contrasts: among the guys, the girl is remembered most clearly.
Job Responsibilities: Most often COO, CMO or CBDO.

Prepare the speaker
All elements are ready, it remains to put together. What to look for? – to the audience! What does she appreciate the most?

Voice and intonation: a monologue on an equal footing, the expression of a fresh look or instruction from a guru.
Appearance: suit, hoodie or maybe bright fashionable dress.
Behavior on stage: at a stand quietly or freely strolling around the hall.
It is important to understand that half an hour before the start you can make changes to the pitch (in the oral part for sure). The context is constantly changing – so quick response is appreciated. In this case, only the beginning, end or sequence changes (by a maximum of 10%, and 90% remain unchanged).

Good Pitch Examples
Here are some links to the note. Even if you don’t know the language, a lot of things are clear from verbal, non-verbal and visual components.


friendly conversation;
informal style of dress;
no limitations in pose.
Good Case: Google CEO Sundar Pichai Performance

What is good:

Simple sentences;
confident calm intonation;
minimalistic design that complements speech (speech itself is the main component).

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