Guest Post by Laurelle Johnson & Sonya Lee

Innovate Pasadena’s CONNECT Weekend is around the corner, and so are several valuable opportunities to pitch your brilliant business idea to some serious potential investors at a series of Pitch Fests organized by TechSparks and Innovate Pasadena.

In today’s thriving startup environment, the need for investment dollars is on the rise. Pitching for those capital dollars is also becoming increasingly competitive as more young companies vie for a piece of a limited investment pool. Potential capital can translate into hiring more experienced designers and engineers, developing a solid marketing campaign, and even expanding a qualified sales team. In order to raise necessary funds, your pitch must concisely describe you and your company and be presented perfectly.

Pitching can be equally daunting and invigorating. You may hear the word ‘no’ more than you’d like to, but honing your pitch is an opportunity to refine your company’s story, develop a strategy and determine your long-term goals. An effective pitch can help you get past initial meetings and into signing term sheets.

Your pitch must address these key points:

* Who are you?

* What does your business do?

* How do you make money?

* Who is on your team and what is their cumulative experience in this field?

* Why are you better than your competition?

Now that you’ve put together your pitch, practice it out loud as much as you can. Rehearse from start to finish in a room or while looking in a mirror, noting how you say each word, your body movements and facial expressions. Once you’re comfortable, move to practicing on friends or family and ask for constructive feedback. Having the confidence and the ability to communicate effectively what your company does is one half of the battle, delivering it seamlessly is the other. When presenting, remember that your investors are people too. Don’t forget to breathe, stand firm on your value and the value of the company, engage with your audience, make eye contact and smile.

It can be daunting, but trust that if you’ve followed the tips above and know your pitch cold, you are ready. When the time comes, get up there and exude enthusiasm. Your business awaits!

Through CONNECT Weekend, aspiring entrepreneurs will have four different opportunities to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges for the purposes of receiving feedback, refining their pitch, scoring a meeting with a local influencer, bragging rights, and a chance to pitch at the Ice House during the #GeekNight Closing Event. If you’re interested, complete a Pitchfest Submission Form.

Join us at the Digital Media Pitchfest on March 15th, 2014 where Laurelle Johnson will serve as an advisor in our collaborative session where entrepreneurs can practice their pitch.

Laurelle Johnson works with startups and emerging companies to create their information package and pitches, preparing for and gaining investment capital.  She brings her unique one-on-one approach to inspire confidence and works closely with each team to create the winning pitch.  She can be reached at laurelle@laurellejohnson.com.

Sonya Lee is a steering committee member of TechSparks who recently launched the TechSparks DTLA Informal Pitch. Sonya is also the principal at Mowie Media and works with startups as a UX, branding and digital media strategist.