I was at a recent event where several budding startups pitched to a guest panel. They were mostly looking for feedback. After listening to about 8 pitches, I talked to the presenters and made some suggestions. I started thinking about the event and felt that I should write down a few things about pitching. Please note that these are very subjective. I am writing them to generate a conversation and most of these are just my opinions. Take them with a pinch of salt.
Ten Suggestions for Pitching.
- Know why you are pitching
- Know your audience
- What is your one minute pitch?
- Focus on your business (not just the product or service).
- Know your market and show it
- Talk about your (potential) customers and their problems
- Start with a story. Make sure that the story is relevant to your business.
- Tell more stories about your research, your assumptions, your conversations with prospects and your discoveries
- Show you understand your business – market, revenues, customer segments and what takes to get the business going
- Ask your questions and elicit feedback and help.
I will expand on these points in future posts. But your pitch may be very different depends on whom you are pitching to and why you are pitching.
Most people, especially in Silicon Valley, are aware that there aren’t enough engineers graduating from college today. By 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that there will be 1.4 million computer science (CS) jobs available, but only enough graduates to fill 30 percent of these jobs. What’s perhaps even more troubling, but frequently overlooked, is that the engineers who are graduating today often don’t have the level of real-world skills in CS they need to meet the requirements of open positions. Why? Put simply, being a CS student is very different from being a real-life software engineer.
This is just US (the estimates are from US Department of Labor). What is the situation in other countries like India and China where the gap between academic institutions and industry are wider? Some possible solutions:
- The Education system may be revamped to bring out better and more skill focused training (as some optional courses or as free training after graduation). This will be taught by very different people, mostly practitioners of the software craft.
- Several institutions may spring up to fill these skill gaps (MOOCs are the first iteration). Hopefully MOOC content can be used by others free or for a modest fee to create blended learning programs
- As the article suggests students participating in Open Source Communities. This is a great idea. However, open source participation is for people with a lot of initiative and there are knowledge gaps between what they are and how to make students aware of them.
- This is kind of meta, but we need to help people learn by doing. We need to teach them not only how to learn but also how to “Learn to Learn”.
- This is just not a problem for graduating students. It applies to practitioners who need to continuously reskill themselves in new areas in software domain.
CS is just one field, facing this problem. There will be others. Not all the training can be done at undergraduate or graduate level in educational institutions.
I think there should be one easy to use resource page on LinkedIn about Jobs. For example a Tech Jobs page for a particular region can contain:
- Job Resources
- Emerging technology trends and their impact on Jobs
- Jobs and Salaries in different regions and different domains
- Tech Jobs in Demand in both Tech and non-tech companies
- Tech Job Hotspots in a particular country/region
- Hiring Patterns (who hires whom)
- Skill Gaps (and opportunities to train and deploy)
- Skill Development Opportunities (for both self learners and training institutions)
- On Demand Skill Builders (a new generation of consultants who can ramp your teams pretty fast)
- Product Sprints as a way to build skills with focus on usable, useful products
I keep talking to lots of students and have some ideas on how we (at educational institutions and community) can help them. Here are some thoughts.
- Encourage curiosity. Curious kids learn a lot more.
- Help them explore. Give them broad exposure and have them explore on their own. Exploration helps satisfy their curiosity.
- Help them become self-learners.Teaching them how to learn is more challenging since you need to customize it for different learning styles.
- Encourage them to be creative. When they come up with ideas, help them work through ideas .
- Help them increase their confidence. I have seen lots of students very capable, but do not venture into trying out new things because they do not have the confidence.
There may be lots of ways we can help. I just picked a few. Let me know your thoughts.
Edit 1st Aug 2014
Will start collecting articles on the “Purpose of Education” and list them here.
What Is The Purpose Of Education? http://onforb.es/1oWBAoB