The HFA fellows recently had a chance to pitch this year’s stroke care solutions - KnightCap and Galva - at the Medical Sensors Design Conference (team KnightCap!) and at the StartUp Maryland and Launch!Annapolis events (team Galva!).
Pitching means effectively communicating the problem you’re trying to solve, presenting your solution and its value propositions, and calling the audience to action - all in 2-3 minutes. With the time pressure on, the pitch had to be down pat.
Learning to pitch our ideas concisely and convincingly and putting our skills to the test taught us a few things. Here, we share our top takeaways:
1. Practice is key, but improvisation takes you far. King and Katia had run through their pitch several times before presenting, but having some moments of spontaneity added to the experience. “Get it...Galvanize...Galva?” King ad libbed, drawing appreciative smiles and chuckles from the audience (always a plus).
2. Tell a story. “It’s 7:00 am. Your alarm goes of and you reach over to hit the all-too-familiar snooze button..” Stephanie and Mike started off their KnightCap pitch by painting a picture. When it comes to pitching medical devices, it’s easy to get lost in technical jargon and hardware specifications, so it’s good to connect on a human level with patient users.
3. Have fun. The audience is like a mirror - it reflects the positive energy you put into your words. Don’t take things too seriously, and enjoy the experience of being up there in front of everyone.
4. Don’t be afraid to be different. At the Medical Sensors Design Conference, Stephanie was the only female pitching out of the 7 finalists, and the only millennial-aged speaker as well. Though it was, admittedly, a bit intimidating, Stephanie embraced it and owned it!
5. Be comfortable with discomfort. Before their pitch for StartUp Maryland, King and Katia were briefed outside of the bus where the pitch would be recorded. They had memorized their lines and were ready to give it their best in front of the camera, when the host told them that they had to incorporate several additional talking points. Thinking quickly on their feet, they were able to shift their pitch around on the spot, and ultimately pulled it off!
6. Concision is key. 3-minute pitches are hard! And while talking more quickly is a tempting approach, listeners will value the ability to speak powerfully in as few words as possible. Instead of rattling off numbers in a value proposition, illustrate what that would look like to a patient or to a payor system.
7. The unexpected connections you make. Launch!Annapolis and StartUp Maryland helped Galva make several helpful and unexpected connections. You never know if the person standing in line next to you at the appetizers table happens to also be an angel investor.
8. Understand the event. It seems so intuitive, but a lot of unexpected things can happen in a pitch event. Also clarify the details - Can I have a pitch deck? Will my slides be pre-loaded? How will I be introduced onto the stage? What kind of people will be in the audience? When will the winners be announced?
Stay tuned for more as we refine our solutions and approach the final months of our fellowship!