The Perfect Pitch: Tips from PerfectBusiness Co-Founder Dan Bliss

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The entrepreneurial network PerfectBusiness is one week away from wrapping up its 2nd Annual Perfect Pitch Contest, an online forum for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a jury of angel and venture capital investors who represent more than $10 billion in capital. The contest launched on August 10th and has just been extended until September 10th.

The top three entrants will present their ideas at the 2010 PerfectBusiness Summit at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas from October 7th – 8th. The distinguished panel includes Gavin Maloof, Owner of Palms Casino and NBA’s Sacramento Kings; Brad Hunstable, President & Founder of UStream.TV and Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo.

To find out what the judges are looking for, we spoke to Dan Bliss (pictured right), who is the co-founder of the Los Angeles-based network and the guy who in 2005 sold the Hollywood sign in an auction on eBay. He had three pieces of advice for delivering a perfect pitch:


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1. Hone your Concept

Bliss said he likes to see a “brilliant concept that’s well thought-out, well branded” and has “market potential.” One of last year’s winners, Dan Didrick was a hit because he was able to present functioning prosthetic fingers to the jury, who in turn gave him funding to launch The World Hand Foundation.

2. Make it Scalable

Most of the judges are coming from venture capital and angel investment firms, so they “are looking for companies that can become a national company quickly,” Bliss said, like restaurants that can become chains instead of local destinations and products that can hit the shelves at a major retailer like Target. Venture capitalists “love the internet, they love software,” he said, because “in two seconds they can quadruple in size.” If an idea is scalable, the investors “can see themselves cashing out more quickly.”

3. Don’t try to make a career out of it

Some investors “care about the company once they invest in it,” Bliss said, but most of them are looking to flip a company rather than run it. “They want to buy it for a couple million dollars or less and turn around and sell it for $100 million in three years,” Bliss said.

The Summit’s guest list is full of entrepreneurs whose success stories provide excellent case studies, said Bliss. A stand-out among the convention’s 60 speakers is Aaron Patzer, the Founder of Mint.com who launched his personal finance site from his living room and within three years had sold it to the software company Intuit for $170 million. Intuit’s chief corporate strategy & development officer Grieg Coppe will join Patzer on stage to deconstruct the company’s purchase, from getting Mint.com on Intuit’s radar to closing the deal. For other companies like Mint that are looking for a buyer, Bliss said the “big secret is not to be desperate to sell.” At the Summit “we’re really going to pull back the curtain” on the negotiation process, Bliss said.