Dragon's Den Auditions: There's an art to the pitch

Hamilton's Innovation Factory helps entrepreneurs prepare for pitching at the Hamilton auditions for the Dragon's Den coming up on Feb. 22, 2014 at CBC Hamilton.

Prepare for one of the most nerve-wrecking business pitches in business

The 'dragons' of Dragons' Den, from left, are Jim Treliving, Kevin O'Leary, Arlene Dickinson, Robert Herjavec and Bruce Croxon. (CBC)

When Kevin O'Leary asks 'how will this make me any money' he wants the answer pronto and entrepreneurs who cannot entice the Canadian finance mogul to invest in their businesses get the famous 'I'm out.' A really bad pitch will likely get a similar response from the other four dragons.

If you really know your stuff, then your words aren’t rehearsed.- David Carter, executive director, Innovation Factory

A persuasive pitch comes with a thorough and genuine understanding of your business plan and the ability to present it with confidence, says David Carter, executive director, of Innovation Factory, a non-profit government funded organization that helps entrepreneurs in Hamilton bring new ideas to life and market their businesses.

Top tips on pitching

  • Have a thorough understanding of your business plan and have facts and figures to back it up.
  • Do not place the valuation of your company too high.
  • Rehearsing your pitch is a good idea, but remember the goal is not to memorize it. You want it to flow.

“If you really know your stuff, then your words aren’t rehearsed. You can back it up with fact so if you get interrupted, like if Kevin O'Leary jumps in and asks a question, you can pick up where you left of. There is fluidity which shows confidence," Carter said.

“If you’re trying to memorize your pitch you are in trouble. It’s so easy for someone to throw a wrench in that."

Carter will be sharing tips on giving a successful pitch today, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Innovation Factory located in the Atrium at McMaster Innovation Park. The event is free and you can find more details here.

​The worst thing an entrepreneur can do during a pitch is to inflate their business valuation, Carter says.

Except, of course, if they had the data or sales to back it up. But when the business is at the idea stage, entrepreneurs should err on the side of caution.

David Carter, a Waterdown native, brings over 25 years of experience in entrepreneurship and technology to Innovation Factory. (Supplied)

Another common mistake is not knowing before walking into a pitch meeting what the requested funds will be used for. Carter says entrepreneurs should have specifics on how the investor's money will help their business.

The pitch training session will also have Hamilton native, and former Dragon's Den contestant, Sean Snyder as a guest speaker. Snyder's company, Trend Trunk, is a social marketplace where consumers can buy, sell and donate new and gently used fashion items online. Snyder will offer a behind the scenes look from his experience on the show in November 2013.

The Dragon's Den auditions will take place in Hamilton on Feb. 22 at CBC Hamilton.