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Podcast: The Mini Pitch – Easily Distill, Explain And Present Your Ideas

Tom:

Hey, welcome to the Product Leadership Podcast from Lighthouse London where we talk about how to validate, launch and maintain successful digital products with product owners, innovators, digital experts, and founders. Lighthouse London are a digital design and product development team who spent the last 10 years helping people conceive, build, and steer digital products. You can find out more about us and more podcast episodes at wearelighthouse.com. Enjoy the show.
Hey, everybody. Tom here. I’ve got Dan with me.

Dan:

Hello.

Tom:

Today we are going to run through something slightly different. We’re going to teach you how to do something, which is to create what we call a mini pitch.

Dan:

Yes.

Tom:

Something we use a fair bit, and something that we put together for the end of our Dear Generation sessions, and just times when you’ve got an idea and you need a way to quickly show it to people, and get feedback, and get it from being a concept through to getting the wheels in motion for the next steps.

Dan:

Yeah. I think people often underestimate how much you need to put an idea into a certain format in order to get other people to buy into it. We tend to have ideas, get carried away with how great we think they are, and forget that other people actually need convincing.

Tom:

Yep.

Dan:

We also forget what’s going to convince them. We get so excited and we think, “Hey, why doesn’t this other person get as excited about this as me?” Well, the reason for that is because it’s your idea, not theirs. What’s going to excite them? Well, it’s going to be things like what change can that idea bring about? We generally see this happening from within businesses in innovation teams. They will come up with ideas for products they want their business to build, and the first person you’ve got to convince is your manager or the money man-

Tom:

Yep.

Dan:

… or Mr. or Mrs. big money woman.

Tom:

Money woman, definitely. That’s where we’ve used it in the past. Giving a structured way to a professional team to document what they’ve found out, and how to move it forward is great, but this is the kind of thing you can just make yourselves, any entrepreneur or someone with an idea. It’s a good way to not worry about writing an entire business case but kind of build… You’ve got your elevator pitch to start and then this is version two. So, this is when you’re going to just show someone who might have interest, or just test your idea with people, or just get it out there to bring it to the world, this is the next step. Something you might just put together quickly.

Dan:

Yeah. We tell people, “You’ve got to convince people.” They say, “How,” and we say, “By following the five slide, super pitch, mini pitch.” It hasn’t got a brand yet.

Tom:

We’ve never said that actually-

Dan:

No.

Tom:

… but I like it.

Dan:

Absolutely. We’ve never said that, and lots of people are excited about it already.

Tom:

I know.

Dan:

Imagine how pumped they’re going to be when they hear me call it a super pitch, mini pitch?

Tom:

So, one thing is that you may notice some of the stuff that we’re talking about from a business model canvas, lean canvas, it has quite a lot of similarities of that. So, nice thing to tie in to the fact if you’ve done one of those lean canvases already.

Dan:

Oh yeah, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants, Tom.

Tom:

We are.

Dan:

Always.

Tom:

Yeah, we never have any original ideas.

Dan:

Well, no, you’re probably right. So, let’s go through the five slides. Slide one, the problem opportunity slide.

Tom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan:

This is the classic framing things as a problem rather than going straight in with your solution. You’re setting the scene, you’re telling people about the pains you’re going to overcome, or the jobs you’re going to help people with. Yeah. This is your chance to describe the problem you’ve seen within your business, within the world, whatever it is that your idea is going to try and overcome. I think it’s important to give a bit of detail here, because you’re creating that tension before you come with what, hopefully, is the best idea ever.
The next slide should be, following on from that, the amount of value that your idea is going to bring. So, I guess it’s basically taking that problem, and whether with data, or just with persuasion, pointing out how large the problem is. There’s some great problems out there to solve in the world, and if you solve them, it will affect a handful of people, and no one’s going to get excited by the idea except you, or you can affect a few people, but just in a very large way. What you’re essentially doing is going, “That problem I just told you about? It’s a big deal.”

Tom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan:

That’s where you want to get people to. So, it’s backing up that first slide and bringing some data in. If you’ve got data, awesome. You know, quotes, some research, anything you’ve got to prove that that problem exists, and that it’s big enough to care about-
Alex: Hey, it’s Alex from Lighthouse. We’ve distilled a decades worth of designing and building digital products into a handy step by step guide. We call it the Product Innovation Framework. It contains all you need to make every stage of your product’s life cycle a success, and it’s free to download at wearelighthouse.com/pif.

Dan:

Slide three.

Tom:

Yeah.

Dan:

We’re sort of halfway there. We will be halfway through at slide three-

Tom:

Yep.

Dan:

… of the five slide mini pitch.

Tom:

Are we going to tell when halfway through slide three is?

Dan:

It’s very hard to tell.

Tom:

Oh, really? I thought it might be difficult.

Dan:

It’s a question asked by entrepreneurs everywhere since the dawn of time. When are we halfway through slide three?

Tom:

No one’s ever answered that.

Dan:

Right. No one’s ever accurately answered it. Maybe that’s another good problem to solve, but we’re nearly halfway through. That’s what you need to know. The end of halfway through slide three.

Tom:

Just tell them about the slide.

Dan:

We’ll be over halfway through. Slide three is how it works. So, I mean we always say don’t focus on the solution, focus on the problem.

Tom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan:

But in slide three, those rules go out of the window. You need to give… You’ll have an idea of what you want to build, and as ever with describing features and solutions, as long as you do it in a way that you know might change, there is a great way of describing how you intend to tackle something.
That’s what I was thinking when someone describes to me the features somethings do. I think that may not be what makes sense of the product, but actually I now understand what you’re trying to achieve.

Tom:

Yeah. You can’t just have a presentation that’s, here’s a problem and I don’t know where I’m going to do.

Dan:

No.

Tom:

I mean, it’s just a-

Dan:

No, or I do know, but I’m not going to tell you.

Tom:

Yeah, that’s even worse.

Dan:

Absolutely. No. Slide three is for knowing and telling, and you should basically describe the features that your product is going to have, how it’s going to solve this problem. If there’s technologies that are specifically required for that, like Blockchain-

Tom:

AI.

Dan:

JavaScripts. Not JavaScripts. That’s one not to mention. I think, basically, if a specific technologies that you’re going to use that actually make this thing possible, then great, that’s exciting, put them in. There’s no need to start spelling out exactly how you’re going to build something-

Tom:

No. Of course not.

Dan:

… at this stage, and at this point you may have through your innovation workshops, things like that, got ahold of some prototypes, some sketches, wire frames, anything there that you can chuck in to sort of paint the picture of what this could be like, because that’s what you’re doing, you’re sort of giving a vision. You’re not saying this is the exact spec, because we all know things change. You’re letting someone easily understand what you’re attempting to achieve.

Tom:

Or at least what you’re attempting to test. So, this could be your first experiment, or the first thing that you want to get in front of a set of users to prove that there is a business, and that this doesn’t fail.

Dan:

Are we at the end of slide three?

Tom:

I think we are.

Dan:

So, I reckon we were about halfway through when I said JavaScripts.

Tom:

That’s probably about right.

Dan:

That was halfway through slide three.

Tom:

Yeah.

Dan:

Solved. Slide four. We’re on the-

Tom:

Series stuff now.

Dan:

… home strait.

Tom:

Yeah.

Dan:

At this point, they should be on the edge of their seat thinking, “Blimey-

Tom:

That’s brilliant.

Dan:

… this is going to work.”

Tom:

And what are they going to ask? How much does it cost?

Dan:

Yeah. How much does it cost, and how much is it going to make?

Tom:

Yeah.

Dan:

Basically.

Tom:

Which brings us onto-

Dan:

The business model. Slide four.

Tom:

Yep.

Dan:

The business slide.

Tom:

Apparently.

Dan:

All business, on this slide. Like a mullet, we’ve just had the… No it’s not like a mullet. You have the party in the front and then it’s business at the back. That’s the opposite of a mullett. A mullet is a-

Tom:

Ah, that’s… Yeah, the party in the back, this is the front.

Dan:

Yeah, exactly. So, this pitch is the reverse mullet pitch. That’s the new name for it. Reverse mullett. People have different names for mulletts around the world. So, if you don’t know what the forward mullet is-

Tom:

Vokuhila in German.

Dan:

Is it?

Tom:

[foreign language 00:09:06].

Dan:

Nice.

Tom:

Short in the front, low in the back.

Dan:

Nice.

Tom:

You didn’t know you were going to learn that when you checked today.

Dan:

I didn’t. I didn’t. So, the business model slide. So, at this point you’ve got to point out, you know, what it’s likely to cost to build and run. Are you going to… Is this a subscription model? Is it a advertising model? How, is this thing going to make money? You’ve already described the size of the value it brings. So, that ties in, right? You know, if you’re bringing small amount of value to lots of people then you’ve probably even got a price point where you know what you could charge. At this point it’s obviously going to be not finalised what it’s going make, but you need to show how this makes money for your business, because without that it’s just a nice hobby, isn’t it?

Tom:

Yeah. I suppose you want to think about how you make money right now, and how you’re going to do that in a couple of years time. You probably can’t predict more than that, but trying to be a bit smart about sensible revenue that you might generate is wise.

Dan:

So, slide five. So, they’re there, they’ve seen the problem, they’ve seen your solution, they know it’s going to make loads of money, and they’re just itching to know what’s going to happen now. Fine time to hit them with your final slide, which is your go to market plan.

Tom:

Whoo.

Dan:

Oof. They want to see at this point that, yes, you’ve given this massive vision, and they’ve seen all the potential and possibilities, and now they’re thinking, “But that’s going to be a lot of work,” and you’re going to say, “Yes, I knew it would be a lot of work and that’s why I invented the go to market plan,” and that is what is the smallest thing you can build here. This is your MVP, if you like, if you want to call it that. It’s essentially the first launch of whatever this thing is. So, it might be the grand plan, but targeted in only one small segment. If you listened to the podcast or read any books about startups, you know how this all works. You start small with a subset of features, just solving a small part of the problem, and then you scale out this massive vision you had, or indeed most of the time you skate out to a completely different vision, but it’s also massive. I think having this go to market plan, this is the thing you want them to think about signing off on.

Tom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan:

You know, “Oh that thing sounded amazing, but there’s no way we can afford it in this year’s budget.” This is how the thing you could do right now to start this thing that is affordable.

Tom:

Yeah, ideally at low cost. Yeah.

Dan:

Slide six, just says thank you, because that’s polite.

Tom:

I was worried there because he’d been talking about five slide pitch all along.

Dan:

It’s-

Tom:

It seems like a final one.

Dan:

Yeah. Just say thank you. Yeah, a bit of a sum up maybe.

Tom:

A bow.

Dan:

About, what?

Tom:

A bow.

Dan:

A bow? I thought you said about. A bit of a sum up, and there you go. So, you’ve taken what could have been a, “Oh, I want us to tell you about this thing, this idea of how I think it could be really good, and this person over there said they might need it,” blah, blah, blah. Like, this long rambling thing that didn’t have structure, and at the end of it, the person doesn’t know if they even have something to say yes to, or if you’re just telling it to be nice to them. You turn that into a pitch, a formalised idea of presenting something to someone that they can actually sign off on and make happen.

Tom:

Yeah, and it’s meant to be quick. So, five minutes or so. That’s what you’re aiming for. It’s not extensive. It’s just to kind of show someone that you’ve been doing a bit of work, that you’ve got something of value there, and then you want to find the next steps and start moving.

Dan:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s a useful way just to think about the idea yourself anyway.

Tom:

Yeah.

Dan:

When you’re trying to work out what you should spend your time doing. If you can’t do a mini pitch like this about it, then it might be missing one of the things it needs to actually be something worth spending your time on. Tom, do we have a downloadable version of the Simple Pitch?

Tom:

Funny you say that. If you go on our site, you will find it in this very blog post, podcast post.

Dan:

Absolutely.

Tom:

It will be there as a nice little PowerPoint, Google Slides, or something along those lines.

Dan:

Yes, completely.

Tom:

Yeah, take it, download it, have it go, change it. Tell us what you’ve done. Tell us how it went. We’d love to hear how the mini pitch went.

Dan:

Hey.

Tom:

Thanks for listening. If you want more product leadership content, then head over to the Lighthouse site, wearelighthouse.com, for more podcasts and blogs. To find out more about our product leadership framework, check out wearelighthouse.com/plf. Find us on Twitter using @wearelighthouse, and if you’ve enjoyed the show then we’d love a rating in iTunes to help spread the word. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to see the archive and get any future shows. Until next time, we’ll see you then.