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Why Your Startup Needs to Reverse Pitch

 

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Recently, I have been helping  a lot of companies by pitching their business back to them in a process I call Reverse Pitching. I put together a investment or sales presentation of the company, from scratch, and present it to the founding team of the company. They act as the customer and I act as the company, trying to sell them on the vision and the business.

Wait, why would I want you to pitch me my own company?

Well, before I explain why it’s useful let’s cover what Reverse Pitching is not:

  1. It is not trying to show the company how to pitch themselves. I could never recreate the passion and vision that drive the founders to build the business from the ground up. If you are pitching your company, it should come from your heart in your own voice.
  2. It is not an attempt to convince the company they should change their business. It would be amazing arrogant to assume that I know their business better than they do and hence can improve their business through a simple pitch.
  3. It is not practice for raising investment. If you want to get ready to raise investment, you should practice your own pitch on a test audience as much as possible. Having me pitch your company back to you will not help.

Okay, so then what is the point of Reverse Pitching?

The goal of having someone else pitch your company back to you is to hear about the business from a fresh perspective. I am never as familiar with the industry as the team, nor do I understand the nuance of how the business operates. However, that naiveté means that the pitch they hear from me is very different than the pitch they would present themselves. It gets the team thinking in new ways about how to move forward.

Reverse Pitching is a great antidote for developing tunnel vision, which is common during the product development stage of your company. Nothing shocks a team out of their comfort zone more than hearing someone else talk about what they are doing in a new way. It opens their eyes and introduces new ideas, even if they disagree with everything in the Reverse Pitch.

I find that Reverse Pitching becomes useful whenever a company is preparing to make some large strategic decisions. Those decisions might be fundraising, product launches, rebranding efforts or new growth efforts. At those points it can be useful to ensure that you are not just making decisions based on momentum, but that you have thought about how your strategy is viewed by others.

If you are currently building a company, I encourage you to ask one of your advisors or investors to do a Reverse Pitch. If they aren’t willing to, drop me a note as I’d love to help.

This article was originally published at Sean on Startups, a blog about starting and growing companies.

Image credit: CC by Erik Anestad

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About the author: Sean Byrnes

Sean is the founder of Flurry, the leader in advertising and analytics services for mobile applications. He is currently an advisor, mentor and angel investor in the San Francisco bay area. You can read more of his advice and thoughts on building businesses on Sean On Startups and his personal website.

  • http://luckydiem.com Andrew Landis

    Brilliant. Receivers rarely pick up what the pitcher thinks are the key points and what makes their company so unique. Thanks for sharing.

  • Peter Kemball

    Sean,
    A terrific technique to deal with a very real problem, see the business from the outside in. So obvious now that you mention it. I can not understand why I did not think of it!
    Having watched more pitches than I can recall, what percent of reverse pitch founders get it ? As a result, are there pitches better received by angels and or VC’s?

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