Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Pitch a Dragon

Just a reminder that I’m scheduled to help out at the Dragons’ Den Toronto auditions tomorrow at the CBC Broadcast Centre downtown on Front Street.

The goal is to find entrepreneurs whose products, services or business ideas are worth putting in front of the real dragons on national TV when the show returns next fall. That means that both you and your ideas must be credible. (Unless you want to be one of those “comic relief” pitchers that the producers stick in occasionally for laughs!)

This is (mostly) serious business. You must be able to answer the questions that any investor would ask, anytime you pitch a business idea. And you have two minutes to do it.

Here are the 10 most important questions you're likely to be asked – on Dragons’ Den, or wherever you make a business pitch like this.

1. What is your product/service/idea? (Be able to answer this question in about 10 seconds).
2. Who/what is the market for this product?
3. How big is this market?
4. What makes this product different from its competitors?
5. What is proprietary about your idea? (i.e., what prevents someone from copying your idea?)
6. What research have you done to make sure this product will succeed?
7. How much outside capital does your business idea require? How much of your business are you prepared to offer in return for that money?
8. What will the money be used for?
9. How big can this business be?
10. Why are you there right person to make this work?

When I auditioned pitchers last year, I discovered that almost nobody could answer more than three of these questions. Note that this doesn't give you an excuse to cut corners - but it should give you some idea of the opportunity you have to stand out from the crowd!

Essential Advice: When pitching a project like this, prepare. Practice, practice, practice. Don't look or sound like you;re making this pitch for the first time.

And bring a high level of energy and passion to your presentation. If you can't get excited about this opportunity, why would anyone else?
To audition for Dragons' Den, or for a schedule of audition dates, click here.

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