As the only remaining original Dragon from the BBC’s Dragons’ Den series, Peter Jones CBE has heard thousands of business pitches over the past decade. Here he imparts some of his wisdom, offering top tips for tech entrepreneurs entering the Palace for the first time…
If you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody else will. Like so many of life’s challenges, confidence is the key to success. Self-assurance and poise are very important traits for entrepreneurs looking to stand out from their competitors. In my experience, a perfect pitch is delivered with character and confidence.
It might come off as a cliché, but the importance of showing personality is key. Investors are not just looking for a business that will offer high rates of return, but a business partner who they can trust and like. These are the kinds of partnerships that stand the test of time.
Don’t try and come across as someone you’re not. I’ve always enjoyed jesting with audiences, even when the format is serious. Get the balance between work and play right, and the audience will appreciate you for it.
Know your purpose
I passionately believe that you should start a company that you really believe in – in today’s business world, mission matters. You can always tell the difference between an entrepreneur that truly believes in their business and the impact it can make – in comparison, to an entrepreneur who is merely seeking profit.
Make your business purpose known when you’re pitching and don’t be afraid to speak passionately about why this is important to you – it is what makes your business authentic and will help you to stand out against the competition.
There’s nothing worse than a long pitch, especially for investors that are short of time. I often find myself losing interest on Dragons’ Den if a pitch loses its momentum.
Your pitch should be like a short story, with a defined beginning, middle and end. It should be clearly signposted, and always kept to an obvious point. Don’t feel the need to complicate a pitch with all your ideas – drive home your USP.
Network, network, network
While the clue is in the name, Pitch@Palace is not just about your business pitch. The calibre of entrepreneurs that gather at this event represent a unique opportunity for you to make connections that could help accelerate your business. Whilst feedback from your mentors could prove invaluable, building your network could be just as crucial to the future growth of your business.
The spirit of camaraderie at Pitch@Palace is always palpable, particularly because everyone presenting can win, so get yourself and your business out there. You should always be pitching – whether you’re on or off stage. Good luck and here’s to your success!
Peter Jones CBE is founder of the Peter Jones Foundation