The development journey from idea to finished product can be seen as a roadmap with several key reflection points dotted along it. At each key point there is the opportunity to pitch for investment. Wherever on your journey you are, it's crucial to tailor your pitch to ensure that it's an honest and accurate reflection of where you are currently at.
It’s often easy to get ahead of ourselves, to get carried away and think we’re further along on the product development journey than we may actually be.
As a guide, there are roughly four key points on your product development journey in which your pitch should be fundamentally changed.
Stage one: Idea
If your product is at the idea stage (i.e. there’s nothing tangible an investor or consumer can physically get a hold off) then be honest about it from the beginning.
Don’t imply you're- more ahead than you actually are, keep your pitch to the selling of the big idea and be confident in your pitch about it.
Don’t feel that you are at a disadvantage because you can't put in someone’s hands but at the same time don't try and use smoke and mirrors to make your idea look more advanced than it actually is!
Stage two and three: Prototype vs MVP
If you’re at the stage where you actually have something tangible but it’s not the finished thing then be clear about that. Never pitch a prototype as the final thing. You’ll lose credibility in an investors eyes if you try to over-sell what you have.
If you have something that works but you wouldn’t be confident putting it on a shelf then it’s a prototype.
If it's working and you’d be happy to sell it in its current form (even if you think it could be approved, then it's a Minimum Viable Product or MVP).
The differences between the two may be subtle but you should ensure your pitch is clear which of the two you’re presenting.
If you have a working prototype, be clear that’s what it is, a prototype, and direct your pitch towards seeking investment to get it into production and to market.
If you have an MVP be clear in your pitch that it’s an MVP, and showcase how you plan to both a) sell it in its current form and b) the development of a roadmap for future improvements. You’ll need a much stronger marketing plan for an MVP than for a Prototype. Having an MVP implies that you are set-up and prepared to have it on shelves in its current form.
Stage four: The finished article
It’s crucial that you only pitch a finished thing if it truly is ready to hit the market straight away and there’s no bugs, flaws or blind spots. You’ll need to emphasise in your pitch the quality control you’ve been through and demonstrate for example the accreditations and guarantees that you have in place.
Triple and quadruple check everything before you pitch your product or service as ready to go! The one thing you don't want is your investor finding flaws.
Nothing will kill off an investment quicker than an investor being made to feel that they’ve been misled, even if it’s inadvertent.
Products and Services at all four stages can be put live for investment. What is key to successes is being seen as credible and to be seen as credible, you have to be honest about where you're currently at!