The Science and Art of Selling Ideas

By Gabey Goh
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / Asia News Network

The topic of pitches and all the drama that goes with them has flared up again in the last two weeks or so.

I found myself counselling a young student who tried his hand pitching at the recently held Activate Singapore Tech Talent Day only to fall apart and leave his pitch incomplete.

I say, “Stop apologizing, pick yourself up, learn from it and move on.”

While another more seasoned entrepreneur, Alvin Koay of MobileAds reported a disastrous pitch session to friends on Facebook only to find out at the very end that he had emerged victorious. Congratulations!

My short retelling on Facebook of one young entrepreneur’s recent horrid experience trying to pitch to a panel for funding also sparked a long and insightful comment thread by members of Malaysia’s start-up community.

So let me start by getting the obvious out of the way, Malaysians are not known for their polish or savvy when it comes to pitching on a stage.

Yet that hasn’t stopped the most determined of our entrepreneur ranks from doing it over and over, a fact we should be proud of.

Khoo Chien Shiang, founder of SeQ.Me and personal safety app Watch Over Me recalled how he once got rejected on national television during the first season of Make the Pitch, a reality show sponsored by MyEG.

“I thought it was the end of the world for me, and I ended up complaining and cursing this and that but I realised that I was moving nowhere,” he said.

Khoo added that he once read an article which stated that on average, a Silicon Valley start-up needs to pitch to at least 50 venture capitalists before getting a yes.

“So I would advise the founder, learn what is missing from your presentation. Is it your presentation deck? Style of presenting? Then move on, tell yourself one down, 49 more to go!” he added.

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