My first pitch ever – How did we win Startup Sauna Oulu Event?

Teemu Kivioja from Tecinspire giving App2Day pitch in Startup Sauna Oulu Competition.

It was my first pitch ever. I was nervous. There I was, in the middle of the pitch competition with 18 experienced startups. We only had the idea, presentation material and the very first prototype. Proto that we had built from scratch in two months with my upcoming co-founder during evenings. We enrolled late to the competition, but got in as one startup cancelled. After hearing this, we made the pitch presentation and script in four days. Suddenly it was my turn in front of the jury.. 


..and it went well. The pitch itself was fluent, but the presentation material had too much text. After all the presentations, four of the startups including us were qualified to have one on one coaching with the members of the Jury. This was a very valuable and excellent reward. After the rounds two winners were announced and we were the other!

After the event we received some additional exercises to qualify for the main international competition in Helsinki. Unfortunately we didn’t make it – maybe it was too soon for us because we had just started out and didn’t have any customers or  a company yet. Luckily another winner from Oulu Softagram made it to the final and to Slush.

As mentioned, I’m not a pitching expert, but in my previous work I had made over 500 customer presentations. You can find great pitching instructions from the web, but…


Here are our personal pitching tips how we nailed it on Startup Sauna


1. Be emotional

This my personal favourite. In our pitch I used strong words like “frustrated” and “lovable”. You can include emotions into your story in many ways. One basic thing is to change your tone of your voice and tempo during the pitch. You can also tell about your feelings, customers’ emotions and even evoke Jury’s feelings. Emotions are one thing that people will always remember.


2. Start & finish strong

You should open with a tagline or outline to get attention. Only after this  introduce yourself. The same applies to the ending: It should be strong and should include call for action. For us this meant that people could test our proto after the show.  


3. Keep it clear and be consistent

Do the presentation with your style, but be clear and consistent. Personally I tend to move quite a lot. During the pitch I had a great moment, when I stepped in front of the jury and highlighted the main customer benefits.


4. Tell a story

Story telling is true art. If you can include your personal story, the whole presentation will be remembered more easily. For us this was easy, because our product is based on our own needs.


5. Show commitment

Convince the audience that you can do it! Creating a trust that you will succeed is the key. In our pitch I mentioned that we had worked for just a couple of months and got that far with our prototype.


6. Practice, practice and practice some more!

This is the last tip and the point where partly we failed. Personally I tend to talk quite much. This time it was a problem, because I added something on the fly that I didn’t practise. Actually this part went ok, but I had to speed up the rest of the presentation to squeeze it into 3 minute limit time.


Teemu Kivioja from Tecinspire giving introduction to pitching in Oulun Yritystakomo

I was inspired to write this article as Oulun Yritystakomo asked me a couple of times to give an introduction to pitching. Greetings to all my friends from Takomo!

Currently we are at development phase with our product that we pitched: App2Day is an easy social & private calendar – must have app for busy people to connect and plan events with their families and friends.

Our company Tecinspire is just established a week ago. We offer development services and inspiring consulting. We can also help your startup in creating a perfect pitch together. Check out our services.  


Visit our  company pages for more details:  

Yours, Teemu Kivioja, CEO Tecinspire