Gleb Maltsev: 5 Pitching Mistakes Startups Should Avoid - Interview

LOGIN Startup Fair starts in less than two weeks. For this reason, Startup Lithuania organized a pitch training session with Gleb Maltsev, the founder of Stoneful, a creative content agency that practices the craft of communication through writing, presentations, and design. Gleb is also the co-founder of Fundwise, a crowd investment platform for small and medium-sized businesses in the CEE. He has already mentored startups who participated in both Latitude59 and TechChill Baltics, and so consulting startups that are preparing for LOGIN Startup Fair completes Gleb’s map of the major Baltic startup events.

Gleb was kind enough to come all the way from Tallinn this Sunday and to spend the whole day training and advising more than a dozen startups that will take part at the Startup Battle where 6.000 EUR prize fund from TRINITI is on the plate, as well as a 2000-strong audience that will watch the finals.

Despite of a very busy day mentoring startups, Gleb has managed to find a few minutes to share a couple of insights about the areas our startups could improve with our readers. So what are the issues Gleb often sees whilst mentoring and training startups?

1. Not pronouncing your name and your company name clearly enough. Because of this, Gleb says, people forget the names. So you must clearly announce it. If your company name consist of two words, you need to learn how to pronounce both words clearly and add a pause in between the words. As people are very familiar with their names and company names, they have said it so many times that they do not subconsciously feel the need to emphasize the names. This is also true for corporates.

2. Not asking for something. After listening to your pitch, people are likely ask the question “so what?” or “what should I do?”. That should be clearly answered during the pitch. Obviously, this is true only if a startup already knows what he is looking for, because sometimes this is not the case.

3. Using vague language instead of specific details. People are using words and buzzwords such as “machine learning”, AI, “innovative”, “unique”, “cutting edge”, “disrupting”. But, Gleb says, they use it as replacements for actual, real examples of what their products are actually doing. So you need to be specific. Being specific is really hard. But if you’re not specific, people that are listening will not have real examples to grab on to and to remember you. 

4. Not revealing yourself. According to Gleb, another recurring issue among startups in our region as a whole is emotionally reserved delivery of presentations. Maybe it’s cultural thing, but there’s something that doesn’t allow people to express what they actually feel about what they’re doing. "Instead of top-down sales pitch startups should reveal themselves and make themselves vulnerable, they need show the audience who they are and to show what they care about", - Gleb claims. This requires introspection, reflection and asking the question “why” a lot. “Why am I doing it, why I’m doing it this way, why I care about the people in front of me”. If it’s not clearly answered, your motivation and the way you’re doing your talk will be compromised.

5. Not rehearsing. A lot of times people only have a couple of minutes for their pitch. If they’re over time, they might be cut off and asked for a clear outline. If they have not rehearsed it, they might awkwardly stumble into the ending. So rehearsing and having a clear outline helps a lot.

Meet Gleb at the LOGIN Startup Fair. Don’t forget it’s 100% free for the general audience to attend – you’ll see and meet speakers from companies such as Tesla, Uber, The Next Web and IBM.

LOGIN Startup Fair is organised by Enterprise Lithuania and Startup Lithuania

LOGIN Startup Fair is a part of the EC initiative of Single Marker Forum. LOGIN Startup Fair conference is powered by DNB bank.