Win Investors in Startup Alley

Will you pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt next week to meet investors? If you’re interested in learning how to rock the floor at any startup conference, read on.

In 2011, we pitched in Startup Alley. We made a strong run for the top spot, and later took our learnings to win the floor competition at Founder Showcase. Below are the lessons to help your startup stand out in this year’s Startup Alley:

Engage Them: The best way to engage attendees is to get away from your booth! Take a few steps into the walkway and greet them. They rarely come to you. And to really capture attention, read their badge and greet attendees by name as they walk by. They always stop!

Your booth can also engage attendees visually. At Disrupt and Founder Showcase, we brought a 32-inch LCD screen and played our (very flashy) demo video. Like a net, it caught those who stopped to watch, giving us the opportunity to engage them. We also had a 6ft banner showing a graphic of our solution. Both worked (the video worked better).

Finally, the ultimate engagement mechanism: free stuff. During day two of the conference, one company handed out cupcakes. Needless to say, everyone stopped.

Deliver Your Elevator Pitch: Once you win attention, turn on the charm with an elevator pitch. How to deliver an elevator pitch: Problem-Solution-Benefits. In one sentence each, state the relevant problem people face, how you solve that problem, and the benefits. To learn more, download How to Nail the Startup Pitch.

Remember to focus on the attendee. Make the problem and solution relevant to them. The use of the word you is critical. For example, “Zooskers is a great way for you (or your wife or kids) to share internet experiences.” Then launch into examples of how they might use the product, tailoring examples to the attendee’s life.

After you deliver the pitch, show them the demo. Between three of us, we always had demos going on our two laptops while the third person engaged a new attendee.

Master the Ask: There is one last step to the perfect day. After your demo, always ask for something. Like a date, you approached them, charmed them; now get their number. If it’s an investor, ask for a followup meeting. We made our way into a few conference rooms after these events. If it’s a fellow entrepreneur, ask for advice. Every conference we attended yielded a plethora of business ideas and valuable contacts. If it’s Joe Smith, invite them to download the product.

Finally, ask for a vote. At a conference like TechCrunch Disrupt, if you collect enough votes, you get the opportunity to pitch onstage. Few things are more rewarding than stepping in front of an audience of investors and entrepreneurs to share the product you dedicated yourself to.

With the techniques above, you’ll pull in a steady stream of visitors and woo them to your world.