A familiar voice in the Atlanta startup community sounds with friendly chime through the newest entrepreneurship podcast to hit iTunes: “Hello and welcome to Pitch Practice. My name is Kevin Sandlin and I’m your host.”
Sandlin never envisioned that three years ago he’d be translating a random afternoon meet-up into a podcast for business owners nationwide, but then he never imagined that he’d listen to and help shape more than 1,000 pitches either.
“It was never like, Let’s make a million dollars off of this. It was more like, This needs to be done. Let’s go do it,” says Sandlin about an impromptu decision to start practicing pitches each Friday at the Atlanta Tech Village. “Now, it has become a useful part of the ecosystem here.” Through research and time, Sandlin, a seasoned startup founder and digital marketing expert, has created a six-point structure that entrepreneurs can use to shape their elevator pitch. This recipe for clarity will be used during each episode as a way to breakdown a real pitch by a real entrepreneur for listeners everywhere.
“It’s not a formula that you have to use, but it is a great starting point: your name, your company or idea, the problem you’re solving, what your solution to that problem may be, and who your customer is — who is going to pay you money. Finally, you are going to ask for something. Whether it is a business card or a phone number, a referral or money, you will ask for something. Always.”
The Pitch Practice Podcast is well-produced, from its riffing guitar intro to excellent sound quality to, most importantly, great examples of entrepreneurs sharing their words as a way to find their company’s voice. Its material draws upon the 5-25 entrepreneurs who pitch each week at the Atlanta Tech Village, one of the largest tech and startup hubs in the nation, as well as recordings submitted to Sandlin for critique.
A new 10-15 minute episode will reach ears each Tuesday and Thursday. Each segment will focus around one pitch with a breakdown of its successes and failures, as well as offer lessons for other entrepreneurs to glean for their own presentations.
“Given everything being equal between two startups, the one that can explain the problem they are solving and how they are able to solve it better have a much higher level of success,” says Sandlin. “That is why we do this. Most new entrepreneurs don’t really have any idea about how to express the value of their business. They may be able to build a great product or may be excellent at writing code or doing customer service, or whatever their specialty is, but very few, right off the bat, know how to explain in 30-seconds or less what their business is all about and why it should be compelling to anyone.”
So, how can the (Atlanta) startup community stand up for the Pitch Practice Podcast? “Subscribe. Rate. Review. Subscribe. Rate. Review,” says Sandlin. (The magic number to gain traction on iTunes is 200, by the way.) By subscribing, listeners will learn the makings of a good pitch from those brave enough to share their vision. Isn’t that what entrepreneurship is all about? “A good story and a really good problem statement and a really clear ask.”