How To Pitch A Startup In Three Minutes

illustration by david cowles

Each year, Startup Riot gives entrepreneurs three minutes and four slides to pitch their business--the top three win coveted investor meetings. As hopefuls gather in Atlanta on February 22, founder Sanjay Parekh shares the winning formula.

Prepare for everything

TripLingo, a language-assistance app, formed just two weeks before last year's Riot--and won, thanks to ultra-preparedness. Where did they find the time? Says founder Jesse Maddox: "During those two weeks, we slept at the office."

Amp Up the Visuals

Last year, fraud-monitoring company Pindrop Security gave Parekh a preview of its presentation, which he called "clip-art bad." His impassioned plea led Pindrop to hire a designer; the new, appealing, and engaging slide show took second place.

Don't be dramatic . . .

In 2010, a professor named Charles Hofer presented a glucose-monitoring device and simulated insulin shock by fainting--twice. Too much, says Parekh. "I bet 99% remember he fainted, but how many remember why?"

. . . But Put On A Show

Schmoozing never hurts. Allan Branch, cofounder of LessAccounting (which won in 2010), perfected the art. "I told everyone: 'If you sign up today, I'll give you a free piggy-back ride for two minutes.'" You can bet he kept his promise.

Illustrations By David Cowles

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  • Loraine Antrim

    Your messages matter...big time! Cut to the chase and don't waste people's time, but be sure to have a set of very clear and compelling messages that "pop" out of your story (you DO have a story, don't you?). Excellent insights! Loraine Antrim,