What House of Cards can teach you about pitching your startup

April 2, 2016

Alright, I must admit, I’m a huge House of Cards fan… It’s just one of those TV shows that gets me on the edge of my seat. However, just the other day, when I finished watching the latest season, I realised how we could all learn from it, when it comes to startups and pitching, especially with the Lisbon Investment Summit coming this June.

So, what can you actually learn from Frank Underwood’s convincing speeches and political games? How can you improve your speech and seem as convincing as Frank or Claire? Well, you’re about to find out.

Take all these useful tips to improve your pitch for the Lisbon Investment Summit (if you haven’t applied to pitch yet make sure you do so right here), and impress some of Europe’s top investors on June 7-8.

Start with a powerful statement









If you’ve been watching House of Cards you probably remember the speech Frank gave on his program, America Works. Nonetheless, let me refresh your memory…

He starts off by saying: “Good evening. For too long, we in Washington have been lying to you.”

That’s not just a powerful statement that gets everybody’s attention, but also a shocking truth. Think of what could be your powerful statement. What truth, related to your startup, can grab your audience’s attention? What problem are you solving?   

And this brings us to the next tip…

Start by the problem and then talk about the solution

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In that same speech, Frank talks about how Americans have been growing in disappointment with their governments and their lives. To then, explain that the real problem is not what people expect from the government, but the creation of jobs, “real paying jobs”.

And that’s the message he’s trying to pass on, the importance of this job creation program he’s trying to implement.

Try and do the same here with your startup pitch. Start with the pain point of your potential customers, introduce the problem, and only then, explain the solution.    

Use metaphors to explain your product

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Your message needs to get across the room. People need to immediately understand what you do, and the more complex your product is, the worst it gets to explain it. So, the use of metaphors and comparisons is definitely helpful.

“Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.” Frank Underwood

This actually reminds me of the winning pitch at the Web Summit 2014 from Codacy’s Jaime Jorge. He started off by comparing his tool for developers with cleaning dishes. Simple and effective.

Know your competition…

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The thing about pitches is that in the end people usually get to ask questions, and that’s also a good sign. But you definitely need to be prepared for it.

One of the most common questions is actually about your competitors. Who is your competition? How are you doing it differently?

Frank Underwood is known to be always a step ahead of his competition, because he knows everything about them. In the end, you’ll know a lot about your competitors to realise how your solution can be the best in the market. But hopefully, you won’t be as ruthless as Frank when it comes to defeating them.

…But also your weaknesses

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As Frank Underwood once said, “even Achiles was only as strong as his heel”. Everyone has weaknesses, and if you’re aware of yours, you can improve them.

Practice your pitch a thousand times, with lots of different people. Understand what’s the most difficult part for you, if it’s answering the questions from the audience, if you can’t pronounce a word correctly, if you look nervous… and tackle it from the beginning to make your pitch better, every single time you say it.

Were these tips useful? Is your pitch getting close to perfect? Then, pitch at the Lisbon Investment Summit, this June 7-8, apply here.