Did you watch our friend Alex Shadrow, founder of UNItiques.com on Project Runway Startup last Thursday? If not, you have to catch it in the reruns. It was awesome, and you don’t want to miss hearing what Rebecca Minkoff had to say to Alex! (mini spoiler alert). We asked Alex what it’s like to pitch on TV and how she got the confidence to do it:
I was in bed during my junior year at Boston University, when I opened my computer to a familiar villain – an email from Bank of America notifying me that my balance had fallen below $25. Looking back these emails were the best thing that could have happened to me. They lit a fire in me to stop being so broke.
This fire lead me to sell almost all the clothes I owned – against my mother’s wishes – on a self-made platform that would soon evolve into UNItiques.com – a company I pitched in front of expert investors and 3 million viewers on Project Runway Startup November 3rd at 10:30PM on Lifetime!
Since launching UNItiques in 2014, I’ve been unknowingly preparing for this opportunity on Project Runway – speaking at my sorority’s chapter meetings, winning the Buzz Lab’s New Venture Competition, and being interviewed by NASDAQ at Tech Day LA all gave me confidence in my “pitch skills.” Still, nothing could prepare me for what it’s like to pitch to INVESTORS for the FIRST TIME, let alone on national television.
Overall, I learned that whether you’re pitching to an angel over coffee or sweating bullets under the scorching lights on Project Runway, the same rules apply.
1) MEMORIZE THE PITCH WORD FOR WORD, THEN SAY IT IN YOUR OWN WORDS.
After weeks of rehearsing, I knew my pitch so well I could probably give it backwards, but no one wants to hear a monologue! They wanted to hear it from me, not from a piece of paper that I was mentally reading from. Since Project Runway Startup, I have learned that a well articulated, colloquial pitch goes much farther than a rehearsed script.
2) PUT THE CALL-TO-ACTION IN “LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION.”
When pitching in front of ANY audience, you’ve been given a great opportunity for people to hear you. Even if you don’t win, or get the investment you wanted, make sure you take advantage of your reach during that moment. Present the audience with a clear call to actions:
- join our website with any email, but use your .edu if you have one
- create a store before the show airs so you can capture the sales from all those viewers
- check out the amazing deals we have in our marketplace that will be at your door in 2-4 business days
- give us feedback
- follow us on IG / FB
- learn about your investment opportunities in UNItiques
- tune in to Project Runway
See what I did there?! Even if you’re just pitching one-on-one and it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, ask for feedback. Ask WHY he / she is not interested!
3) SAY LESS, ANSWER MORE.
The more you say, the more of a chance you have to mess up. It sounds harsh but it is very true. You will want to tell your investor / audience everything but it is very important you give your pitch in bite-size doses someone can chew instead of serving them the whole meal. Give information that will lead someone to ask a question that you have already have a great answer to. For example, I’ll say how many members are on UNItiques without saying the number of campuses (500). I let them ask, “how many campuses are you on?” so they can be pleased with my answer. If you give too much information in your initial pitch, you will be asked something you have no idea how to answer. If that happens, don’t make things up – politely say you want to give them an accurate answer and will email them in the next 24 hours.
4) SMILE WHEN YOU TALK & SAY THANK YOU!
When I was hostessing a lifetime ago, my boss would emphasize the importance of smiling while answering calls because it, “makes your voice sound totally different.” At first I was skeptical, but I came to realize that she was totally right. When you smile the inflections in your voice will exude an air of positivity and confidence. It also implies that you agree with what you are saying. And hey, if you do not believe in your business, why should anyone else. Finally, when you say thank you, mean it….
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this.
Thank you Alex for being such a good friend to SFTL! We think you are awesome.