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How To Impress When You Have 20 Minutes To Make Your Case A few pointers on what stakeholders want to see and hear about in a new business pitch.

By Massimo Cannizzo

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


The UAE has a great support network for entrepreneurs and startups to help accelerate their growth- this was proven when the country was ranked first in the Middle East and fourth globally in the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) for 2020. Plus, the World Bank listed the UAE as 16th in their ease of doing business rankings last year.

At the same time, given Abu Dhabi and Dubai's free zones and reforms in recent months to encourage expats and investors in the country, it's safe to expect investment in entrepreneurs and small businesses to pick up again very soon.

This was something I felt as I participated in the Future Health Hackathon 2071, held in February this year by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention in collaboration with Entrepreneur Middle East and BOLT. Through the course of the event, I met some fantastic startups with innovative ideas to help the healthcare challenges of tomorrow.

Related: The UAE Ministry Of Health And Prevention Announces Multiple Events To Celebrate UAE Innovation Week From February 21-27, 2021

However, I did think that some of the pitches could have gone better. Most of the individuals were simply not pitch- ready- at the least, their presentations could've been better if all of the components that a jury or an investor like to find in a pitch were there.

At Gellify, we consult corporates on innovation, and we also invest in B2B tech startups and help them succeed in the market through our Gellification program, providing a backbone of investments, advisory, and tools designed for startups to help them transition from what we call a liquid state to a solid one.

This process brings a reduction of risks for the enterprise, while also increasing its value in the market. As part of this process, we also mentor startups on upskilling, upselling, and adapting their products or pitches to meet a client's needs.

Based off my experience in this department, I'd like to share with you a few pointers on what stakeholders want to see and hear about in a new business pitch- in essence, an effective pitch should be based on these four factors:

30% of the pitch's impact comes from the storytelling aspect of it. I want to see your energy as a speaker, I want to understand your credibility, and I want to see a visually strong presentation.

Another 30% of the pitch should focus on the background of the startup's management and its advisory board members. I want to see where your experience is coming from, and what support and advice you are receiving.

You need to confidently (and clearly) respond to every question you are asked, so ask yourself the why, what, who, when, and how of your new venture. You need to be able to arrive at your point concisely- you will never have a lot of time, and you need to grab a listener's attention.

Related: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Five Steps To Startup Pitching Like A Pro

We are not looking for a copy-paste idea. I've seen some wonderfully creative ideas over the years, but they are sometimes not concrete enough. I am also not interested in unreachable dreams or "change the world" ideas. At events like the Future Health Hackathon 2071, you will be judged on the 10-15 minutes during which you present. As such, make sure you spend 80% of your time on your presentation deck- this is likely the first time the judges will have heard from you, and what you say here is all that matters. If you have 20 minutes to pitch, cover off all these areas in 10 slides- for me, this is the best storyline:


To create interest and polarize attention:
> Include the problem statement,
> highlight the market opportunity,
> report relevant trends and a competition analysis.

To show concreteness and competence:
> Include the solution/value proposition,
> the business model,
> your pricing/revenue model.

Related: Three Tips To Remember When Pitching To Investors

To build trust:
> the background to the startup's team is key here,
> along with any mentors or advisory board.

To show your know-how:
> your proposed timeline,
> the company or product roadmap,
> business and operational volumetric plans.

To show your ability to deliver:
> Include a go-to-marker strategy/plan,
> the technology strategy,
> sourcing and partnerships strategy,
> fundraising plan,
> the business case (funding, revenues, CAPEX, OPEX),
> logistics.

Make sure you spend 80% of your time on your presentation deck- this is likely the first time the judges will have heard from you, and what you say here is all that matters. Also, be prepared for a Q&A at the end. At the end of the day, remember that what everyone is really looking for in an entrepreneur's pitch is proof that they have a ground-based innovative idea, a solid strategy to grow, and a reliable team, with the company hopefully already out in the market with a product and revenue. Good luck with your pitches!

Related: BE BOLD, The Youth Leadership Program Led By The UAE Ministry Of Health And Prevention In Partnership With Entrepreneur Middle East, Comes To A Close

Massimo Cannizzo

Founder and CEO of Gellify Middle East

Massimo Cannizzo is a C-level senior advisor, executive, and entrepreneur. He specializes in the space of innovative technologies across multiple industries and countries. Cannizzo, before starting his venture with Gellify Group, recently served in roles of Global Data Strategy Lead at Accenture Strategy, as well as the Tech and Digital Consulting Lead for South Europe and Middle East in Accenture Consulting. Cannizzo began his 28-year career with a five-year tenure in aerospace systems in the US and Europe. He then joined Accenture, where he drove innovation and transformation programs in multiple European countries and different industries, including telecommunication, banking, insurance, energy, public services and retail. Cannizzo graduated in 1992 with a master’s degree in Telecommunication Engineering at the University of Rome. He is a father of three children and has resided in Dubai, UAE since 2012.
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