I wrote this article a couple of weeks ago after pitching Postach.io for the NVBC business competition, a local event in BC, Canada with a top prize of $100k.

I purchased two Macbook adapters, brought three cords, backed up my presentation to USB, and made sure to bring a WIFI hotspot on my phone for my big pitch on Friday morning. This was it, after 6 months of writing business plans and cash-flow projects, this was the final pitch in BC’s annual New Ventures competition.

Heart pounding while thirteen local technocrats conversed with one another, patient while I plugged in, hooked up, and prepared to start rambling, err, pitching. It would be my first 15 minute presentation. My longest before had been only 5.

Aside from the racing pulse that caused my lungs to tighten to a strangling squeeze, I started off strong. I wanted to tug on heartstrings, make a personal connection. This is my story, this business is the culmination of my life’s experience and visions for the future.

If anybody can tell me how to speak with passion when you’re being strangled by nerves, I’m all ears.

Once I started to loosen up I felt things moving along better. A few chuckles, some eye contact, a smile here, a nod there. Ok, I’m getting through, I think they’re getting it.

Then all at once, I was on my last slide, summarizing what I had said. Did I say it with enough enthusiasm?

A few thoughts

The question answer period after my pitch was unexpected. Firstly, it's scary that the judges only asked a few questions. I was expecting a longer question and answer period. Perhaps it was because I was the last one in the way before lunch, or maybe my presentation included all the answers (doubtful). The fear is that it wasn’t interesting enough to solicit deep questioning.

Second, there were a couple of questions I didn’t have the answers to.

1) What is your viral co-efficient?

Damn, I knew somebody was going to ask this, why hadn’t we been tracking referrals? So much code to write. Bugs before metrics. "Sorry, we’re not tracking that yet. We’ve been really focused on connecting our product to more sources and working on partnerships, and haven’t implemented all the tracking we’d like to."

A silent room, strike one.

A few more questions and I rolled through the answers with ease. I’ve got this, I know this. I’m living this thing.

Then another question dropped.

2) What are the conversion rates for each customer segment? Does one perform better than the others?

Another, “Sorry we’re not tracking that yet." Incriminating glances from around the room. Sure, this guys speaks well, but he’s pretty unprepared on the metrics side.

Improvements

I’ve thought a lot in the last 24 hours about how I could have answered better. Like a loop in my head my mind has recreate the scenario and inserted randomly generated alternate scenes. I think I’ve settled on my favourites.

What I should have said instead was something like…

We haven’t yet rolled out campaigns to each customer segment, we’ve just uncovered them through our customer development at this point. We plan on rolling landing pages and tracking each segment in detail in the coming months. What we do know is that our landing page converts at 27% across the board through all segments. It’s phenomenal compared to previous apps we’ve built and we’re really excited to dig a bit deeper.

I’d like to draw a parallel to improv comedy here. People say, never say “no", always keep the conversation moving forward. This is difficult when you’re nervous. My heart was racing... In a room full of wildly successful people, who’ve made it to where they are partly because of their discerning nature, it’s easy to let your heart race and freeze up.

When you say, “I’m sorry, we’re not tracking that metric." the room falls silent, you stammer to pick up the rhythm again of conversation.

What I’m trying to say is even when you don’t have the answer… say something like… "we’re not tracking ____ yet, but what we do know is ____." to keep the conversation moving. Just keep the conversation moving.

This post was written in Dropbox and publishing automatically using Postach.io.