To strengthen SMEs and start-ups from partnering clusters, the Pitch Coaching Training was organised to expose SMEs to the specific type of knowledge used for pitching at international level. Representatives from the four health cluster management teams from the CE4BIG project and representatives of five start-ups from each partnering cluster were invited to the virtual event. The event took place online, 15-22 January 2021.
The purpose of this exchange was for cluster staff to learn about pitching to support their cluster members in the best possible way to pitch internationally. The training took place in English, and each cluster organisation invited start-up companies from their network to participate in the training to provide a concrete example of a company’s pitch during the training, and to provide them with valuable training.
This grouped training activity was hosted by BioM and professional trainer Beth Susanne was the leader of the whole programme. Other clusters and invited SMEs created the visitor’s group. This allowed the participants to share the costs and network amongst one another during and after the training.
The participating SMEs have been carefully selected to ensure that the training is pertinent for them. The training provided participants with clear, focused feedback on what works well, what needs to improve and what won’t work. By the end of the training, they learnt and experienced the tools, techniques and knowledge to prepare Pitch Decks with their clients to be better prepared to present to VCs, partners and clients. The agenda included opportunities for coaching and networking, so the participants benefited from the European scope of the training and the expertise and feedback not only from the designated trainer but also from the participating cluster organisations and the other start-ups.
The agenda of this learning exercise was quite intensive:
- 15 January 2021: All training participants meet to prepare their input for the training. They were briefed on the purpose and the content of the training and what was expected of them. The “Bethodology” method was presented and participants received the manual on how to produce a pitch. The participants (both start-ups and cluster organisations) were to prepare their first pitch to be given on the first day of the training.
- 18 January 2021: The first session with the trainer has begun with each participant giving a one minute pitch, with direct feedback from Beth on how to make it more compelling by describing the problem and how the proposed solution is better, and to fine-tune the market focus. This one-minute pitch practice provided the group with a quick idea of what works, what doesn’t and why, and provided Beth with an opportunity to quickly assess each individual’s level of readiness to pitch powerfully.
- 20 January 2021 (half-day). All 5 start-ups gave a 5-minute pitch with slides. In this session, Beth began the process of giving in-depth feedback, slide-by-slide, highlighting the appropriate script, and adapting the key messages and content, identifying what works well, what is missing, what needs to be improved and fine-tuning the pitch deck, script and delivery. Start-ups received feedback on all 5 parts of their pitch, from Beth as well as co-coaching messages from the 4 cluster organisations, based on notes they have taken, following the Methodology. Then Beth gave feedback on the co-coaching to the Cluster Managers.
- 20 January 2021 (half-day). Wrap up of the first 2 days amongst cluster managers and SMEs, feedback to see how the training is going and what could still be covered in the remaining session with the professional trainer, experience exchange and Q&A session. This was also a good opportunity for networking among the participants and the chance to see if there are any common areas for potential business partnerships.
- 21 January 2021 (half-day). All 4 cluster organisations presented a 5-minute pitch and received feedback from Beth, and other participants, with 15 minutes of discussion using the same process as on Day 2. Also, all 5 start-ups presented their revised pitch, with feedback.
- 22 January 2021 (half-day). The final feedback session between participants, aimed at creating an action plan and coming together to reflect on the final report. Participants also discussed possibilities for future synergies between their organisations.
The objectives of the training were for cluster management staff to learn about pitching to support their cluster members in the best possible way to pitch internationally. This objective was fully achieved: the cluster staff received guides and support to help SMEs to pitch internationally, the cluster staff could practice pitching themselves to understand the process, and they also had many opportunities to provide feedback to the SMEs and to have their feedback reviewed by the coach.
As planned, the training provided the start-ups with clear, focused feedback on what works well, what needs to improve and what won’t work. They learnt and experienced the tools, techniques and knowledge to prepare Pitch Decks with their clients to be better prepared to present to VCs, partners and clients. The agenda included opportunities for coaching and networking, so the participants benefited from the European scope of the training and the expertise and feedback not only from the designated trainer but also from the participating cluster organisations and the other start-ups.
The idea to organise this type of group exchange aimed at developing the skills was well-received by participants.
- “The training was great, I learnt a lot about pitching. I made a lot of progress from the start to the end of the training and Beth was a good coach. It also helped to learn from the other SMEs and the cluster staff.”- Sybille, KetoM+.
- “The activities performed during the exchange were pertinent for all participants and everyone learnt something from the experience. The professional coach was highly qualified to train all participants about pitching internationally. The training was useful both for the SMEs, who received detailed feedback from the coach and the cluster management staff and for the clusters, who could pitch themselves and provide feedback to the SMEs. All partners had the chance to grow their networks.” – Stephanie, BioM.
- “This training is really useful for start-ups and SMEs. Anyone who wants to start a business should follow it (or a similar one) as early as possible.”- Joëlle Gahimbare, BioWin.