Four tips for a winning startup pitch

More than 15.000 people gather these days at the tech-conference Slush in Helsinki. 4000 of them are investors, entrepreneurs and journalists from all over the world. 


Slush in Helsinki. Photo credits: Jussi Ratilainen

For the second year in a row there is a special event on the program – Nordic Showcase. A the event, the 10 most promising Nordic startups will pitch and share stories about their journey. The Crown Prince Haakon of Norway will open Nordic Showcase this year.

We asked three entrepreneurs participating in the Nordic Showcase to share their thoughts on how to prepare a winning pitch.

  1. The first 10 seconds are the most important

The founders of Unacast, Thomas Walle and Kjartan Slette

Thomas Walle is co-founder of Unacast, a Norwegian startup. They are the world’s largest proximity data platform. Since their launch in 2015, they have raised 6,6 million USD.  

He says that the most important component in a good pitch is the start and the end.

“During the first 10 seconds, you must catch the audience’s attention, otherwise it is going to be hard to connect with them later.”

“During your last 10-20 seconds you should summarize the most important points. Few people will remember all the details, but in the end we want the audience to feel ´Wow, I want to hear more about it!´”

He says that it takes a couple of weeks to make a good presentation, and test it from different angles. In their pitch they want to focus on the bigger picture, on the challenges, and specifically why Unacast is dominating the market.

“When you only have 4 minutes you need to have good rhythm, concrete points you want to make, and no downtime in your presentation.”

  1. Forget the script, speak from the heart

Elina Berglund

Do not learn your speech by heart, is the advice from Dr. Elina Berglund Scherwitzl. She is the CTO and co-founder of NaturalCycles. It is a Stockholm-based company working with a fertility monitor for women.

“Do not learn what to say by heart. If you do and you lose your way in the script, it might be hard to get back. Besides it sounds much more genuine if you speak freely rather than cite a rehearsed script.”

What is a good pitch?

“I think a good startup pitch is very clear on what the company does, what is the vision and mission, and where it is today. This must be in every pitch as well as selling the potential of the company.”

  1. Don’t assume the audience knows everything about your business

The main goal of the Finnish startup KNL Networks  is to enable the Internet anywhere. They have recently raised 10 million Euros during a series A round with Creandum.


Toni Linden

The CEO of KNL Networks, Toni Linden, says that he hasn´t done many pitches. When he does, he thinks over who is sitting in the audience, and what sides of the story they´re willing to hear.

“I think most of the startups (myself often included) fail to tell what is their business and how they are actually doing it. It’s so easy to fail in this since entrepreneurs live and breathe the company. We just assume that everyone else has the same background information.”

  1. Enjoy your five minutes of fame

Linden adds that you should enjoy your time on stage and make the best of it.

“When you pitch you should remember there is no one who has better understanding of your company than you. People in the audience would love to see you to succeed, so there’s no reason to be scared or too nervous.”

“Just enjoy your five minutes of fame.”