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At the Cambridge Postdoc Enterprise Competition grand finale on 27 October the quality of the finalists’ pitches was vital to their chances of success. While this was a competition, the skills are the same whether you are pitching to a panel of judges or to potential investors.
As part of the mentoring the finalists received they were advised by Adelina Chalmers, a guru in presentation and pitching. She supplied the low-down on what investors want to see in a pitch and how to speak their language. While there are many ways to structure and deliver a pitch, Chalmers’s approach is a simple one: Ask yourself what you want and what your potential investors want, then make sure you answer both of these questions.
A good pitch can be used as a tool to get the outcome you are looking for from delivering the pitch. When pitching for investment, Chalmers says there are several things you must include. Present the problem and who it affects. Explain what other solutions exist that fail to tackle the problem. And introduce your team, explaining why they are the right people for the job and how they will deliver the solution. Show evidence and validation that the technology works, through examples. Then explain your business model. Finally, state what you need to do next to ensure success, and how much money you need to do it. Full details of this model are available on Adelina’s website.
Presenting a business plan and pitching for investment requires a completely different set of skills than those I had for talking to an academic audience or lecturing to students.Giorgia Longobardi, business plan competition winner 2016
Our Postdoc Enterprise Competition was won jointly by Max Bock of Netwookie and Giorgia Longobardi of CamGaN Devices, each winning £20,000 investment. Giorgia said: “Adelina has been a very inspiring and motivating mentor. She taught me how to present and pitch for investment in two separate 1-2-1 mentoring sessions. Presenting a business plan and pitching for investment requires a completely different set of skills than those I had for talking to an academic audience or lecturing to students. Adelina gave me powerful advice on how to make the pitch effective and successful.”
A third prize of £7,500 was awarded to Giorgio Divitini. Giorgio said: “Adelina was great at providing advice and very clear in explaining, effectively demonstrating her advice by pitching our business idea herself. Her coaching was definitely instrumental in preparing for the competition, where we won the Coca-Cola prize.”
Chalmers has trained Professors and Senior Lecturers at Cranfield University on presenting their research and winning over industry audiences, such as those at Airbus. She helps Cambridge University start-ups secure millions of pounds of investment, specialising in helping researchers become entrepreneurs.