PITCH PERFECT: How to Perfect Your Business Pitch
You are looking to start your first business. You have solidified your idea. You have completed your market research and created a business plan. All of the puzzle pieces you need to kick off a successful start-up are finally falling into place, but there is still one obstacle you must overcome: the final business pitch. This is the Shark Tank moment that you have been waiting for!
Business pitches are an opportunity to explain the core mission of your start-up, and more importantly, why it will succeed amongst competitors. Learning how to discuss your business idea and encourage investors to support you financially can be a strenuous process, but UNLV DECA is here to help! We have reached out to several business professionals who have experience in the investing world and can give you tips on how to formulate an effective business pitch. Let’s start off by introducing our panelists!
Get to Know our Panelists
“I am Professor Mike Sullivan. I have taught Finance courses at UNLV since 1991. I have taught a Student Managed Fund class (Rebel Investment Group) since its inception in 2010.”
“I currently serve as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Nevada Registered Agents Association and also sit on their Board of Directors. I have over 16 years’ experience in the corporate and financial world and am one of the Founders of Corporate Capital, Inc. Previously, I served as the general manager, where I consistently had over 30 sales professionals working under me and was in charge of all day-to-day operations, with peak sales at 12 million.”
“My name is Greg Phelps and I’ve been a financial planner for 25 years. I’ve had my own practice for 15 years, and I focus on helping people achieve the retirement they’ve dreamed of without the worry most retirees have.” To learn more about Greg Phelps’ work as a financial planner and the services he offers, check out his website: https://redrockwealth.com/.
We have asked our panelists a variety of questions that focus on the basics of a business pitch presentation. These responses should help you understand what investors typically look for and how you can tell the story of your business.
What does a good business idea typically look like?
“A great business puts the client first in every aspect of their services and interaction. A great business is a fiduciary business, where the company owes the highest standard of care to the client above all else. I don’t know what a good business looks like because anything less than the ultimate duty of care to help the client achieve financial prosperity is a bad business, by this I specifically mean companies who are more focused on their own profits than their customers results.” – Greg Phelps
What differentiates a good business pitch from a great one?
“Giving a clear understanding of your product but more importantly how you can help your customer. Your customer ultimately wants to know what is in it for them and how you can help solve their problems. Make sure you are able to separate yourself from the competition.” – Brent Carlson
How long should a business pitch typically be?
“Length will vary. Long enough to provide the most important information, but short enough to keep the listeners’ attention.” – Michael Sullivan
What do investors typically want to see from someone’s business pitch?
“What their ROI is going to be and how quickly will they see that return. I know it sounds blunt but it’s true. Investors really only care about one thing and that is money. This is okay! That is why they invest.” – Brent Carlson
“People want to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care about numbers or bells or whistles as much as they do feeling confident that the company or advisor can help them live the life they want. Most companies focus on how great they are instead of how they can help the client/customer so it’s a win-win all around. So my pitch is really we can help you live the retirement you’ve always dreamed of through brilliant planning and exceptional management. NOTE I didn’t say my annuity is best or my investments will earn more. It’s about the client not the products.” – Greg Phelps
What are some of the best ways that a student can prepare for their pitch delivery?
“Practice! Present in front of other students or friends and have them ask you questions. Make sure you let them know that constructive criticism is appreciated.” – Michael Sullivan
What are some red flags you might hear during a business pitch that would discourage you from investing?
“Inaccuracies. Especially numbers. If I hear inconsistencies, especially with numbers I start to feel like they are guessing rather than knowing the true numbers. If I am going to invest I want to know what I am investing in and my risk…This is why we recommend and even help write business plans for our clients….” – Brent Carlson
“Red flags are everything I described. If the company/advisor pitch is how great they are and how much better the stuff they sell is, people should run the other way.” – Greg Phelps
What questions do investors typically ask after hearing a business pitch?
“Depends on the pitch. Obviously, an investor wants answers to questions pertaining to product sales growth, margins, and expenses.” – Michael Sullivan
Coming up with a business idea is easy; convincing strangers to invest in your business and believe in your idea is the hard part. Completing your first business pitch can be a daunting task, but hopefully these tips can help make your pitch a bit more perfect! Special thanks to our panelists, Professor Michael Sullivan, Brent Carlson, and Greg Phelps, for sharing these pointers with our chapter. If you would like to learn more about these professionals and the work they do, please email our chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with your future business pitches, Rebels!
Internship and Job Postings
5 Things Business Students Should Do to Maximize their College Experience (and Walk Away with a Job)
By: Cecilia Yau
College is a stressful time. As a student, you are expected to do spectacularly in your classes because your parents have invested thousands of dollars in your education (no pressure). At the end of your 4 years, you’re expecting to walk away from your university with a fancy piece of paper, and hopefully, a career. As a current college senior, here are 5 tips to help you maximize your college experience and come out as a well-rounded and sought after prospect for your chosen career field.
1) Join a campus student organization
Student organizations (like DECA) are an amazing way to meet and build meaningful connections with other students on campus. The volunteering you do, guest speakers you meet, and competitions you participate in are also an amazing addition to your resume.
2) Get job experience (of any sort!)
Just because you want to be a future CEO, CFO, COO, or other C-suite job doesn’t mean you need to start off with one. As a college student, no one expects you to have a part time job or internship that matches your career field right off the bat. Your college years are probably the only time when it’s acceptable to jump from job to job every semester. Go out there and get some work experience! It will impress the person on the other side of the interview table, put a bit of cash in your pocket, and teach you a little about what kind of career you want to pursue.
3) Study abroad
Studying abroad is an incredible experience that will give you a different viewpoint of the world. Get out of your comfort zone and explore a new country. This will probably be the only time in your life when you can take 5 months off to study and explore another country while paying very little money and avoiding other adult responsibilities like a full-time job.
4) Learn to network
Soft skills are quickly becoming one of the most sought after traits for new college hires. Practice your networking skills at socials that the university or student organization hosts. These skills will benefit you greatly when you’re interviewing for a job, and later, when you enter the professional world.
5) Have a little fun!
In the end, don’t forget to have a little bit of fun. Go out on Friday and Saturday nights and spend Sunday recovering and studying instead. Work on cultivating a good work-life balance. Don’t be stumped when your interviewer tosses you an easy question like “what do you do for fun?” and say something boring like “studying.”
My UNLV DECA Experience
By: Sneha Patel
UNLV DECA has been one of the most inspiring organizations that I have been fortunate enough to a be part of because it has allowed me to become more professionally competent, assist the community, expand my social circle, and develop new skills that will allow me to thrive in the business world.
Our unique DECA chapter recruits members into our organization by participating in an involvement fair held on campus, posting fliers, and through the word-of-mouth process. Our organization is unique because we are all encouraged to network during our DECA meetings. We do this by doing ice breakers before the meetings officially begin, which helps our participants not only meet others and become comfortable with each other, but also help us learn how to work in a team. Just by doing little things, such as these ice breakers, it makes our DECA experience a whole lot more memorable.
Additionally, I have learned how to interact with industry professionals and properly greet others when I am placed in a business environment. There was one instance where UNLV DECA hosted the Las Vegas Competition Academy and the members were in charge of interacting and directing the attendees. Many of the other DECA members have already participated in this event, but it was a new experience for me.
Our DECA president allowed the volunteers to have a practice run to ensure that we all knew our roles when the competition began. Even though I made a few mistakes during the practice run, I was able to resolve them because the president and other DECA members gave me valuable feedback on how to improve. This allowed me to be successful when the actual event began. This showed me how professional, polite, and patient our chapter members are We not only work as a team, but we learn from each other.
By participating in UNLV DECA, I have had the opportunity to develop myself both personally and professionally and I am eager to continue to learn and expand my skills in the coming semesters. I urge others to do the same and join DECA.
An Education Student’s Take on DECA
By: Johana Mendoza
When I first joined DECA, I thought that I was going to go into the Hotel Industry. I was attending a magnet school and was a part of their hospitality program. I thought that was what I was going to do, and I figured that DECA would bring me closer to my future career and give me a leg up against other individuals that wanted to go into the hotel industry as well. Little did I know, I would enter college as an education major.
There seems to be a bit of misunderstanding that DECA is only for those that want to go into entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, hospitality, and/or management. Though I still have some sights set on entrepreneurship and management, I am definitely an education major first. So, I get a lot of questions about why I am in DECA, and, every time, I respond that DECA is more than its career clusters. DECA is also about networking and growing as a leader. It is about presentation and professionalism, all of which are extremely important qualities for a teacher.
I honestly wish that students from other careers would join DECA, not only to make the organization more diverse, but to grow professionally from an organization that can take you places. Even as a future educator, I know that DECA is still going to put me a step ahead of other people in my industry because I have used the opportunities that DECA provides me to my advantage. There are countless resources that an organization like DECA holds and I hope more people become aware of that and use them to grow as well.
Applebee’s Hosts ICDC Fundraiser
By: Ryan Arinas
UNLV DECA members had the opportunity to manage a restaurant for a morning to raise money for their trip to ICDC.
Volunteers had the option of being a host or a server at the Applebee’s on Maryland Parkway for the breakfast fundraiser. The menu included pancakes, eggs, sausages and the guests’ choice of a drink (non-alcoholic of course)!
Not only did the event benefit UNLV DECA as a fundraiser, but members also gained valuable leadership and management skills that are crucial to running a successful restaurant. These skills may also be applied to other career fields members wish to pursue.
By interacting with guests, members practiced their people and communication skills, leaving those who attended happy and satisfied. The event also taught them a valuable lesson in teamwork and collaboration. Working towards a common goal certainly brought everyone together run a great restaurant.
Members also learned from the employees working at Applebee’s. They met some servers that have worked at Applebee’s for 20 years. The servers passed on their knowledge about improving communication and collaboration skills, adding to what members learned first-hand while serving at the fundraiser.
Many members took this experience as a great way to practice their coordination, collaboration and communication skills. Physical and mental coordination brought UNLV DECA to its feet to execute another successful event!
We would like to thank Applebee’s for giving their time and resources to help UNLV DECA make it to ICDC.
Yum! Laughs! Fun! UNLV DECA Crepe Social
By Ryan Arinas
UNLV DECA had a fun Saturday afternoon enjoying unlimited crepe, smoothie and coffee at La Maison de Maggie. Members felt like they were right in France and had the opportunity to socialize with close friends and have tons of great laughs.
The crepe startup’s focus is bringing a French experience to Las Vegas. La Maison de Maggie’s interior reflects this realistic, French experience, and all of the crepe ingredients are imported from France. UNLV DECA was invited by Bonito Sahagun, Chairman of the Nevada DECA Board of Trustees and a co-founder of La Maison de Maggie.
Throughout the whole experience, members learned about the vision behind the restaurant and its initial challenges, ranging from city regulations to logistics. Some members also had the opportunity to learn more about the Sahagun’s extensive background, and he gave valuable insight to each member about pursuing their dreams.
Thank you La Maison de Maggie for hosting this yummy event!
UNLV Collegiate DECA Hosts Competition Academy
By Cecilia Yau
On December 4th, 2015, UNLV Collegiate DECA hosted its 2nd annual Competition Academy for high school DECA students in the Las Vegas area to attend.
The competition academy is a place where students who are new to high school DECA can come to learn about competitions, get competition tips, and have a chance to try a mock case study or business stimulation in front of a real judge.
For many high school DECA students, the competition academy will be the first opportunity to develop their skills for the state conference and beyond.
After months of planning from the Competition Academy Committee, the event was a success. Over 80 local high school students attended and 12 local business professionals offered their time to act as judges and mentors for the program.
Students from UNLV DECA and CSN DECA also volunteered their time and gained experience learning how to run a competitive event of this size.
At 8:30 a.m., UNLV DECA President Randy Huynh officially opened the ceremony, though volunteers had started setting up several hours before.
After the ceremony, Nevada DECA State Director Curtis Haley ran the students through a training session where they all learned how to get through a case study. For many, this was the first time they had such an experience.
At noon, their hard work was payed off with lunch and the opportunity to interact with UNLV DECA members.
Over the next three hours, the students tested their newly acquired skills during the competition session with judges from various local industries. The judges provided feedback to students after the scores were compiled.
To close the day, students with high enough scores were given medals at the award ceremony.
UNLV DECA had a blast hosting the 100+ students, advisors, and judges on our campus. We hope that the students excel in their state competition next month and return next year for our 3rd annual Competition Academy!
Volunteering in a Hawaiian Paradise
By: Bonnie Lei
OCA Las Vegas hosted a Hawaiian themed OCA 88 Funds dinner at the Mandalay Bay Beach Club and gave UNLV DECA members the opportunity to volunteer for the event.
The annual recognition dinner honors three distinguished Asian and Pacific Islander icons in the Las Vegas community.
OCA Las Vegas is part of a “national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States,” according to their website.
UNLV DECA volunteers were given leis to match the theme and signs to help direct the guests from the hotel lobby to the Mandalay Bay Beach Club. Volunteers were put into teams of two and spread out along the pathway to the venue starting from the casino lobby. With a smile on their face and a beaming energy, they held signage signifying they were there for OCA and gave directions for where to walk. Later in the evening, the volunteers assisted with running the silent auction.
This event-based project not only gave back to the community, but it also gave volunteers the opportunity to meet and network with the three distinguished icons: Lawrence Barnard, CEO and President of Saint Rose Hospitals; Catherine Siefert, Vice President of Hotel Operations at the Monte Carlo; and Maggie Hsu, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Business Development at Downtown Project.
“My favorite part about the event was that it was not just a volunteer event,” said Aurora Chen, freshman. “We actually got to introduce ourselves to the guests and speak to them after the event ended.”