When it comes to the art of pitching, Jewel Burks, CEO and Co-Founder of Partpic, is a Rembrandt. She and the Partpic team won at Rise of the Rest, 36|86, the 2015 SXSW Accelerator competition for “Enterprise and Smart Data Technologies,” and the “Best Enterprise Disrupter” award at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014. They’ve been working the pitch circuit (and pounding the pavement) and recently secured $1.5M in funding from angel investors.
Burks has consistently swept aside the competition due to her ability to communicate that Partpic is innovative, scalable, and actually addresses a problem customers are willing to pay to have solved. We recently spoke with Burks to find out how she does it and get her advice for others looking to perfect their pitch.
How did you create/edit such a killer slide deck and how has it evolved over the past 2 years?
It’s evolved quite a bit. We’ve had 10-20 versions of the deck. It’s improved from pitching, getting feedback, and incorporating those changes in the pitch. During the past 2 years, things have changed in the business and we’ve updated the pitch based on those changes as well.
What kind of preparation goes into each pitch event?
I’m at a point now where I don’t do scripts anymore because I’m so familiar with the story and the points I want to hit. However, I do take into consideration the specific criteria for a given pitch. If it’s going to be in front of a public audience, I want the story to resonate with people. If it’s in front of a small group of decisions makers, I’ll make special considerations there.
Are you nervous each time? What do you do to calm your nerves?
I am definitely still nervous, especially if it’s a big event and there’s a lot on the line. At Rise of the Rest, I was very nervous. To counteract my nerves, I have a backstage ritual. I say a little prayer, pump myself up a little bit with music, and tell myself, “I got this.”
How do you decide which competitions to enter?
While we were still raising money, we were willing to enter anywhere where there’s a cash prize. Now, we’re more selective. If there’s an opportunity where the prize is high, we’ll enter. At this point, though, we have other things that are of a higher priority.
Did you have a pitch mentor who showed you the ropes?
I took advantage of different programs like Startup Gauntlet (now Customer Discovery Lab) at ATDC. That was the first time I stood up in front of an audience and pitched Partpic. They gave me a lot of feedback there. I also taught myself to some extent. At any competition, I’ll look up the previous winners on YouTube to formulate my style to any given pitch.
What’s next for PartPic? How do you plan on using the funds and what’s next to tackle?
We raised the money so we could grow our team to accommodate the customers we want to bring on board. We currently have 6 people and 3 interns this summer. The big thing for us right now is customer acquisition. I have one more competition in the pipeline called PowerMoves.NOLA on July 4th.
What advice do you have for others?
Practice before you get on stage. Figure out what works for you to get the nerves out, whether that’s breathing exercises or listening to your favorite song. Usually nerves are what kills it.
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[Photo Credit- TechCrunch]