We figured that there are lots of articles with advice and wisdom to guide StartUps in their development, progress, and growth. While the lifecycle of a StartUp is very focused on financial growth, we focus on sustainable progress to be measured in its development of inclusive action and engagement with stakeholders on sustainable growth for society and planet. Define your company’s purpose first to guide your vision and mission for your StartUp.
The traditional lifespan of StartUps starts with the idea and development of the project itself, the early stage, followed by the growth stage. After raising the “friends, family & fools” funds, the seed and Series A stage, StartUps enter the Series B, C and D stages. Those phases represent the maturity of the new-born business. The reason for the segmentation of StartUps into these stages lies in the indication of risks. It signalizes to investors as well as clients the financial maturity of the organisation when thinking about investing and engaging with the company. Investors in particular focus on the entrepreneurial team first. It is the number one asset of the company representing a wealth of competencies. Investors then concentrate on the market in which the business operates before considering the actual product and service, the new business develops.
Pitching and selling to make your business and operations progress and grow, are hard work. We would like to provide you with some tools for sustainable progress and thoughts from a marketing perspective aiming for your organisation to successfully position itself, gain confidence, convince investors, and gain capital, but also develop shared value.
Prepare and refine your pitch
The pitch, yes, it is so little, and it is so important. When you pitch, there is never enough time. Often you need to pitch in different languages which requires training. A pitch provides your audience with a precise understanding of your purpose, your plan, and your vision. A pitch is an inspiration that gives relevance to your audience and to the market in which it operates. An effective pitch generates enthusiasm, motivates your audience, and persuades to buy in.
Work on your pitch, so you can do it in several timeframes, for example, 3 minutes, 1.5 minutes, and 30 seconds. If you pitch in a different language other than your native one, prepare and repeat it until you feel comfortable with it. Test and tailor your pitch, so that you have different ones to match the multiple audiences you are engaging with. The pitch needs to be to the point, entertaining, flawless, and sincere. It needs to be an authentic story and part of yourself.
To structure your pitch effectively, we recommend Patrick Dang’s pitch formula which simplifies your speech when meeting the following requirements: I help x achieve y by doing z. 
In your pitch story, inspire through your vision of where your business is heading, confirm your competencies and passion and explain how your product or service solves your audience’s challenges. Apply the formula and test it in various timeframes and languages. Now you are ready to pitch.
Develop a professional presentation
When you create your business, you build your visual identity – this includes your logo, font, colours, image concept and tone of voice. Every item of your visual identity represents your business purpose, your vision, and your mission. After the development of your visual identity, you define your owned media channels including your website and your social media channels corresponding to your specific audience. These media channels serve as your loudspeaker to the rest of the world.
Having your communication platforms reflect your visual identity helps you establish business credibility. It allows you to convene meetings more easily and earn a better understanding when you pitch for investment or sell your product. During the meeting with your stakeholder, we suggest you emphasize your pitch with a clear and slick presentation highlighting your message tailored to your audience. Take into consideration the industry sector, the hierarchy of your audience, the gender and political environment, in which they operate.
The presentation can be easily done through PowerPoint, but also through other online tools such as Prezi . Your presentation and slides shall always represent your corporate identity. Depending to whom you pitch, vary the content giving relevance to your audience. For example, for investors, you start with your vision, brand promise and logo. You also point out how you can help overcome the challenge, who your team is, in what market you operate in, and what your solution represents. Depending on your audience, you add additional features such as data and a timeline of growth. For potential customers, you present a pricing structure and potentially a return on investment. We follow Matt C. Smitt’s advice  for more detailed information on how to structure your slide deck.
Collect your contact information
When you start reaching out to investors, partners, and potential clients, it is essential to collect the contact information of all your stakeholders. It will serve as a base for your marketing-related activities and growth hacking actions. Through this collected data, you also understand the client journey, user interests and customer behaviour. Invest a little time in finding the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM), instead of adding your details into an excel sheet. You find readily online CRM tools with a freemium subscription. Choose a CRM that can connect to your media channels, allows you to segment your contacts and has e-mail marketing options. Freemium options are for free up to a certain number of contacts in your database. Very often, CRMs provide discounts for start-ups. It is important to also consider data privacy. If your business is based in Europe, ensure that the server of your CRM is also located in Europe. With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policy, this detail is important to respect your stakeholders’ sensitive information and store this data within European legislation.
Hack your growth
Reaching out and turning every stone to find investors or clients is tiring and time-intensive work. The fact that you collect your stakeholder information allows you to engage your audience longer and continuously and support you in your business development.
Social Media Engagement: Identify specific companies and organisations you expect to be the ideal investor or client. Follow the organisations you wish to work with and engage in their social media posts through likes and comments continuously. It allows you to understand their challenges and progress, lift your profile to your target. It also helps you to grow your followers on your personal and corporate social media platforms. Keep in mind that each social media channel represents different audiences. Social Media engagement should be done daily. Also, company content shall be posted very regularly on your channels, so your target audience understands what you offer.
Newsletters: With the collection of your client data, you can engage your audience through e-mail marketing activities. This allows you to share your content such as articles from your blogs, company news, stories and pictures of past or upcoming events, product promotions, announcements of new partnerships and job advertisements. Ideally, you send out these newsletters following a timeline of your choice and you stick to it to maintain a regular information push.
When entering a new market as an unknown brand, it is important to focus on visibility and credibility. You should choose a partner who is aligned with your values and aims for the same vision as your company as well as includes the same target audience that you wish to reach out to. A partnership means developing value not only for your own business, but also for the partner organisation and all other stakeholders (clients, members, third parties, civil society, government etc) in parallel. This shared value supports you with gaining credibility. Your audience will feel inspired by your common vision and believe in your brand. Partnering with organisations, for-profit or not-for-profit, also permits you to extend your visibility due to combined networks. Through partnerships, you start to build your reputation and extend your reach.
When developing progress for your company, focus on the purpose of your organisation. It is the guiding light of your decisions, your storytelling, and to the investors and clients you are aiming for. It is the glue to your brand.
By creating shared value for all your stakeholders and not only focusing on the financial aspect of your business, you progress sustainably and convince your audience not only to buy into your product, but also to understand your purpose and believe in your vision. This is true for all – including clients and investors.
- Focus not only on financial growth, but also on your development of inclusive action and engagement with stakeholders on sustainable growth for society and planet.
- Work on your pitch intensely and consider also to do so in different languages.
- Help yourself with marketing tools such as a powerpoint presentation, social media growth hacking and partnerships to develop your customer base.
 2020, Patrick Dang – The Perfect Elevator Pitch – Best Examples and Templates – https://youtu.be/r-iETptU7JY
 A video and visual communications software company since 2009 – https://prezi.com/
 2021, Matt C Smith – What investors ACTUALLY want to see in your PITCH DECK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYWF64Um7pw