pitchdeck 1

As you may know, I reserve my solocasts for topics which have been nothing short of monumental in my journey as an outdoor founder. So this week, I’m talking with all of you about something that, having started two companies and been in the outdoor industries for fifteen years, I had never done up until a few weeks ago.

What I’m talking about is . . . writing a pitch deck! In just a few weeks, I’ll be presenting at the Outdoor Women’s Industry Coalition Pitchfest. I’m super honored to have been selected to be one of this year’s presenters, but it’s a new and challenging experience for me. In preparing my own pitch deck for the event, I learned so much about building and rehearsing pitch decks and I’m excited to share this process with you.

When I sat down to write my pitch, I had to really get to the nitty gritty and evaluate what my company needed, what I wanted to get from this experience. I had to know, specifically what my ask was.

And then, I started reading about how to give an awesome pitch. In my solocast, I’m talking about the two most helpful resources to me in preparing this pitch deck, and the hard editing process I’ve been working through to get it just right.

I’m also sharing some of the negative thoughts I’m refusing to believe about my pitch, and three steps for building an amazing pitch.  

This pitch deck has been such a learning experience for me and for developing how I think about the needs of my company. I’ve never done one before, but I’m choosing to see this an asset, not a liability. If you don’t know what can’t be done, there’s nothing to stop you.

I hope you’ll learn from my process and the resources I’m sharing. This episode is a must listen for anyone looking to pitch or promote their ideas!

Bravery in Business Quote

“Well, the way I look at that is I’ve never done this before and that’s actually my biggest advantage. Because what I don’t know won’t hurt me, right?” – Kristin Carpenter Ogden

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Cliff Notes

  • Entrepreneurs should pitch a story, not just figures and facts.
  • Struggled with two limiting ideas about writing this pitch. She refused to believe them, but they’re still inside her head all the time.
  1. She didn’t have enough time to write a good pitch deck. Only had six weeks from the time she found out she got in to the presentation.
  2. The pitch is only five minutes long. She is “incredibly verbose” so 5 minutes is a real challenge.
  • Started telling herself that not having done this before was an advantage. Because she doesn’t have the experience to know that it can’t be done in 5 minutes, she’s going for it.
  • Rehearse your pitch in front of a variety of people to figure out what the different reactions are, and what engages each audience
  • Edit out everything that isn’t causing an emotional reaction. Even pitching financials, she tried to frame them in terms of a story, hot cognition.
  • When giving the pitch, stay present because this will keep you confident. Confidence also comes from being well prepared.

3 Tips for Building a Pitch Deck

  1.     Focus on “hot cognition”, i.e. stories that will spark emotion (from Klaff).
  2.     Confidence creates flow. Be Confident.
  3.     Remember that you are just the vessel for the mission of the project.


“I have two children in real life and I have two children in my businesses. I guess you love them both very much, not one over the other. They’re very different.” – Kristin Carpenter-Ogden

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Transcription (click to expand)


Welcome to episode #79 of the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast. I am so stoked to have you here today sincerely. I know your time is super valuable, and it is a busy, busy time of the year, summer 2016. Smack in the middle of July, as I’m recording this for you. We are doing a solocast today. I like to reserve my solocast for topics that have been nothing short of monumental in my journey as an outdoor founder. And I have one of those for you today that I wanted to pontificate on. And that is the experience I’ve had working through, preparing, and rehearsing etc. for my very first pitch deck presentation for the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition Pitchfest.

That’s O-I-W-C Pitchfest. So it takes place in Salt Lake City on August 2nd. You can actually come to the Pitchfest if you want to. It’s open to the public. You do have to reserve a spot because I think the room is not humongous. I’ve put a link to the registration page right on the homepage of intrepidentrepreneur.net to make it easy for you. We’d love to have you there so head on over and sign up if you haven’t signed up yet. If you’re planning on being at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2016, again, it’s August 2nd, the day before the show starts. Cool.

So before I drop into my experience–I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain preparing for Pitchfest–I wanted to go over just two quick things. I wanted to give you a bit of context and history on the OIWC and Pitchfest. Okay. So the OIWC was founded in 1996, and it’s the only national organization dedicated to workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion by expanding opportunities for women in the outdoor, snow, bike, and run industries. That is their mission statement read right at website. Deanne Buck, a good friend of mine, is the executive director of the OIWC, and I actually interviewed her a couple months back for Pitchfest when it was announced.  I do have the link to that show in the show notes page at intrepidentrepreneur.net/podcast.

So Pitchfest is in year #2 in 2016. So it’s a very new program, and it’s basically an entrepreneur program for start-up companies that have women in leadership roles. So they could be founders or in leadership roles within these start-ups. Pitchfest does provide a true rare opportunity to pitch a new business to some of the outdoor industry’s most influential leaders. And if you’re wondering who those leaders are, reading this makes me shake in my boots a little bit, but I’m going to do it anyway.

So the panel of all-star judges that will be listening to the pitches at Pitchfest include:

  • Jerry Stritzke who is the president and CEO of REI.
  • Sally McCoy who is the outdoor industry leader and entrepreneur, just of awesomeness. I mean, she’s literally one of my mentors and idols. She may not know it but I’ve been following her career for a while. I read everything that she’s involved in, and she’s amazing.
  • Dan Nordstrom, the CEO of Outdoor Research. Dan is also awesome. We serve on the AMGA board together. And Verde Brand Communications, my brand communications company, is the Agency of Record for outdoor research. But obviously, Intrepid Entrepreneur is a completely separate standalone  business that I don’t even think Dan is aware it exists. So that’s a whole another podcast in terms of why he doesn’t know it exists.
  • Then there’s Jill Layfield who I’ve also had the pleasure of working with at Verde. We are no longer the Agency of Record for backcountry.com but we spent 4-5 of supporting Jill and her team when she was in her role. And she is the former CEO of backcountry.com and technology and outdoor industry leader. She’s awesome.
  • And then there is another awesome woman on the panel, Susan Viscon, who I’ve met several times and worked with on a couple of initiatives for brands through Verde. She’s contributed so much to the OIWC board. She’s the Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Private Brands Divisions at REI. So both her and Jerry Stritzke are incredibly impactful leaders at REI.
  • Then there’s Matt Compton who is the Technology Entrepreneur and Investor on the board. He is the COO of Simple Finance.
  • And last but certainly not least is Christy Saito. VP of Global Product Merchandising in Outdoor and Lifestyle for KEEN Footwear. KEEN is also a Verde Brand Communications client, but again, Intrepid Entrepreneur, completely separate company. Christy has probably no clue that I am the CEO and founder of Intrepid. Again, that’s the story for another podcast, and a good one [at that?].

So those are the all-star panels of judges. As you can see, they all have huge jobs. And it is a little intimidating. But they’re there to support the movement of female entrepreneurs in the outdoor active lifestyle industries. That’s something that I get behind all the time, and I’m just so grateful that they’re dedicating their time to be at Pitchfest for year two. Okay. So again, hit that podcast with Deanne Buck to get the full rundown on Pitchfest. The link is on the show notes page. And then I also just wanted to point out something interesting before we drop in to today’s topic which is building, rehearsing pitch decks etc. and all that I have learned through this amazing process with OIWC Pitchfest.

But OIWC was founded by an entrepreneur named Carolyn Cooke. Her and [inaudible] actually founded it in 1996. It was originally the Outdoor Industry Women’s Council, and now it’s the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition. And through that time, I guess the last 20 years, it’s evolved into a mechanism that  provided women professional support in corporate careers. And [inaudible] noticed that, obviously, there’s a giant movement toward entrepreneurial business right now for so many reasons, and wanted to make sure that OIWC was also supporting female entrepreneurs in this space. So that’s where Pitchfest came from. And I just want to first give [inaudible] and her OIWC team huge kudos. They have made such big progress happen in the past couple of years with so many new ideas and fresh energy and strong visibility for women advancing in my beloved industries of outdoor, bike, snow, endurance, travel. So thank you so much [inaudible] and team.

And onto what I have learned through this amazing process that has been Pitchfest. So I believe there were close to or over 50 applications from female-led or founded startups for Pitchfest. That’s a lot. And I was super happy to read that only in its second year. Like, that’s a lot of applications. And I believe there were six of us who were chosen to present. They’ve had a few changes on the roster but I’m almost positive there will be six presenting companies. And I’m just beyond honored to be one of them with Intrepid Entrepreneur.

Being chosen to present at Pitchfest has given me a different mindset on Intrepid Entrepreneur. It’s taken the company from passion play to full-on stand-alone company. And it’s enabled me to really look at what it is that I need to actually put into Intrepid to get it to the next level. And my entire pitch is not so much about like Shark Tank where I need to give away a percentage of ownership in Intrepid in order to receive financial help. For me, it’s more about discovering the right operating partner. My ask is literally going to be for an operating partner. Ideally, that partner will bring some investment to the table.

But I mean, I am still super full-on with Verde Brand Communications. My heart is also very much in that. And it’s interesting, it’s like having two children. I have two children in real life and I have two children in my business is I guess you’ll love them both very much, not one over the other. They’re very different. But obviously, my newcomer is Intrepid, and my 15 year old is Verde. So it’s hard for a mom to say she loves one more than the other or that one is a passion play because honestly, I love them both. So what does my second child need? An operating partner and more of a team. So that’s what I’m gunning for, folks.

And the Pitchfest isn’t so much about, like, awarding financial investment, although I guess it could definitely lead to that through the networking and different things around the event itself and the community that’s formed up around Pitchfest. It’s more about gaining visibility, traction, and resources, networking, and again, I’m just going to say it because I’m in PR, it’s about visibility. I mean, what a great opportunity to present to an amazing group of people for feedback [inaudible]. So. I just couldn’t be more honored to be part of it.

Okay. So that’s the [inaudible] OIWC in Pitchfest. Now, onto the business at hand for today. Researching, building, and presenting a kickass pitch deck. I’ve never done this before, that’s my disclaimer. 15 years into my second company, Verde–there was no pitch deck for Verde. I literally started it when I was pregnant with my son, Tobin. And yeah, I just got to work, rolled up my sleeves–I definitely knew what my audience wanted, my clientbase, because I have been a journalist for so long. I was aware of the needs of the journalist, one stakeholder, I was also aware of the need to the client because I have been actually providing editorial coverage to a lot of the clients I had started out with at Verde so I felt like I had a really good grasp on who I was serving in Verde, and with what.

I definitely understood PR because I had had PR done to me, I guess, is the way you’d say it for close to a decade in my very first business which was a freelance writing business. I did that for 9 ½ years prior to opening Verde. So that part kind of was a nice runway, I think. But going into Intrepid, I definitely also felt–I saw a need that was needing to be filled with something that was awesome. So basically, the need was I had started two companies in this space without any community or support. And I know for a fact I would have not taken so dang long to learn so many important lessons had I had access to resources, training, and community, preferably market-fluent, for being a successful startup in the outdoor markets.

So as I saw more things coming online around community, around e-learning, coaching, etc., being able to pull groups of people in from all over the world in different timezones, I realized, like, there was–it was time to invent Intrepid and launch it. So that’s what I did in the podcast that you’re listening to is part and partial to that. This is the inspiration. There’s also a lot of training in this podcast. But ultimately, that’s where Intrepid came from. And I had never built a pitch deck out for that either. And I have always bootstrapped–meaning self-funded–all of my startups. And I’m not saying that’s, like, the best way to go, it’s just the way that I’ve done it. So I’ve done the same thing over the past two years with Intrepid.

So why would I need a pitch deck? Well, the whole process has shown me–it’s given me incredible clarity, actually, on where I’ve been with Intrepid, where I am right now, and where this business needs to go to have maximum reach and impact for its mission, which is to resource and support the success of outdoor founders. And it literally is the only resource of its kind available. Okay. So yes, there are accelerators, there definitely are magazines, and online communities that are more broad market. Accelerators exist that serve outdoors, but they ask for percentage of ownership in exchange for mentorship, and that’s not what Intrepid does. We do have different fees around joining things like the A-Game Alliance, private membership site that has market-fluent customized, of course, content for founders in this basis as well as a well-ran community for them in the networking site.

But we do not ask for a percentage of ownership from anybody who we coach and mentor or anybody who takes our courses. So that’s a big distinction right there as well. But what this has done is it’s really enabled me to get very organized and to look at what is most impactful in my business, and where the business needs to go to create more impact and positive change. And so I honestly had no idea how to event start this process even though I have mentored [inaudible] Adventure Accelerator for 4 ½ years. I’ve listened to a ton of pitches and I’ve helped edit a ton of executive summaries. But I’ve never done both of those for myself.

So Pitchfest kicked off with two webinars that were super helpful about how to build a pitch. There were a couple books shared in those webinars.

The first–well, actually, the book that they recommended was Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. Again, both of these books will be in the podcast notes page for this episode. So Oren Klaff’s book was an audiobook–that’s how I consumed it while I’ve been training for different bike events. And I’ve literally listened to this thing three times over the past six weeks. It’s really, really good. He really focuses on enabling an entrepreneur to pitch a story instead of facts and figures–because that’s something I’ve always noticed. Maybe it stuck out to me moreso as I’ve watched Shark Tank or [inaudible] in the past is there’s lots of graphs and financials in there. But good pitches have storytelling woven throughout. That’s what Oren’s book focuses on.

And then another book that I have really gotten a lot out of is Get Backed which Harvard Business Review published. It was written by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. The two Evans. This book is almost like a little coffee table book on pitch decks, and that it has tons of visual representation and examples. The link is also in the podcast notes page. But you also have a ton of how-to wrapped into it. So you’ll get, like, a chapter, 4 or 5 pages of how-to with several visual examples of exactly what they were teaching you and how somebody put it into a deck.

And one thing I’ve learned, being an incredibly verbose human being who’s in PR –we love to talk a lot–is I have a tendency to write long and the Get Backed book really showcases and is complementary to pitch anything is how to visually represent your ideas. So it’s a must-read for anybody who is putting together a pitch. And I highly, highly recommend both of those books.

Okay. So here’s where I get into some of the limiting beliefs that I refuse to believe, but still kind of sit there in my head all the time that I have to tell to get the heck out of my head. And that is the fact that, like, [inaudible] Accelerator, for example, five-month program. Okay. That’s how long they have to be together in a bullpen together everyday for five months until you’re working on their pitch decks, Together.

We had six weeks in the OIWC Pitchfest. I have two weeks left at this point before August 2nd, so I am now done with my deck and to the point where I’m rehearsing the holy hell out of it everyday. My dog knows my deck, my daughter’s bearded dragon lizard knows my deck, my son and daughter have been listening to my deck, my husband’s been listening to my deck, and obviously, my mentor who we’ll get more into in a minute here. Point being is, six weeks is not a lot of time, okay? And then the other thing that has been a limiting belief that I refuse to believe is Pitchfest is only five minutes long. Like, each one of us gets five minutes to present. So I’ve never done that before.

I’m incredibly verbose and I love to tell stories, right? How am I supposed to make five minutes work? Well, the way I look at that is I’ve never done this before and that’s actually my biggest advantage. Because what I don’t know won’t hurt me, right? I’ve had a couple of guests on my podcast that I’ve literally said, “If I had known what I was getting into and my experience that I had going into it, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But because I didn’t and I went for it, it went fine.” But point being is if I had done this before, and maybe I had 10 minutes to present, I may have said there’s no way I can pitch this in five minutes. And because I don’t know any better, I’m going for it. And also, I’m just really wanting to step up to the challenge. So no limiting beliefs on amount of time to present or amount of time I’ve had to prep. Period, the end.

Okay. So here is the first of my big three most important tips for building a pitch deck. And I’m going to probably have another solocast in August that summarized what the experience was like and what came out of it. And I may have some more tips to share in that podcast. But for today, I can definitely identify three of the big boulders, if you will. The big things I had to focus on to create this deck in six weeks with five minutes to pitch.

Okay. So the first is how do you edit something? My first iteration of my deck and script was nine minutes long. And to me, I’m like, “Oh well, no big deal. Four minutes.” But my mentor, Ben [inaudible], who I’m going to talk about here in a minute was like, “Four minutes is a long time. You basically have to cut your pitch in half.” Okay. Glass half full, glass half-empty. Whatever. I already have identified ways to cut this down to six minutes, and I still need to cut it more. And that’s where it gets even more difficult is that last minute.

But point being is Oren Klaff and his book, Pitch Anything, gave me the perfect screen for editing. And that’s tip #1. Focus on what he calls hot cognition. What causes hot cognition in your pitch. Or try and build in as much hot cognition as humanly possible into your pitch. So in Oren Klaff’s world, hot cognition denotes the feeling, if you will, of the stories that spark emotion in your audience. You want a lot of hot cognition in your pitch, and you’ll discover exactly what is causing hot cognition when you rehearse it to a varied group of people. After you rehearse, your audience needs to be asked, “What was the most emotional hot points? Where was the turning point? Did I lose you anywhere?” Etc. You want to get feedback from them. And my dog doesn’t really give very good feedback nor does the bearded dragon. But the people I’ve pitched this to definitely have a lot to say.

Okay. So the emotional hot points is the storytelling, right? That’s where you’re showing a problem, a solution, and a transformation that your business or your offer provides. And I teach this in the alliance modules, the course content for the alliance. But putting it into a five-minute deck about something I’m so passionate about and emotionally tied to in Intrepid has been challenging. So I’ve had to really put my editor’s hat on and just edit, edit, edit out anything that doesn’t cause emotional reaction. And if I’m pitching financials or if I’m pitching more of a how and a what throughout this five minutes, I have to frame it in hot cognition. And pitch anything the book is all about framing. So again, it’s a must-read.

So hot cognition is the #1 thing. You want to put a lot of emotional connection and emotional spark into your pitch. And that’s what you edit out are the parts that do not bring that. Keep it as hot as possible in terms of what makes people respond emotionally. So that’s tip #1. And more on that is in Oren Klaff’s book, Pitch Anything.

Okay. #2. This one, I’m a lot more comfortable with and understand, and that is my belief that confidence creates flow. And I’ve talked about flow in the past on this podcast. In the solocast, actually. But flow is the state where you’re really just–you’re one with the experience you’re having. And I know this from athletics and competitive athletics. Most recently, competitive endurance events in my life. So flow, essentially, is something that you tap into when you’re completely confident and prepared. And so that leads me to point #2, is be confident i.e., whatever that looks like for you. Okay? It’s true for me, when I show up to a race, completely prepared. I’m trained correctly, I’ve rested up correctly, I’ve had had solid nutrition, and I’ve [inaudible] a killer-winning mindset. Okay? There’s four things I need to show up to the start line with, and that is it. And obviously, a ton goes into the training correctly, nutrition, etc. But point being is I put a date on the calendar where the race takes place, I reverse engineer everything I can to show up with confidence. And then things go pretty well, usually, and I can get into a flow state.

And the other thing that’s really important to this flow state is you’re about 500x more likely to stay in that flow state if you’re really, really confident about it, and if you stay present. That is the #1 thing. So you have to stay present. Don’t think about what happened leading up to the experience. Don’t think about things that even happened early on in the race. Just think about exactly what you’re doing at that moment. Don’t think about after the race. Don’t think about winning or losing the race. Just be in the moment, okay? And I fully planted you that–and I have been doing that in my rehearsals where I just basically clear the decks and I’m just in the present moment doing my pitch. There’s nothing clogging up my head, if you will, in terms of past or future.

So show up confident and then stay present while you’re actually in the experience of delivering the pitch or racing or whatever. And for me, again, confidence comes from huge preparation, which is rehearsal. It will also come from rest, focus, and mindset. And I also want to add in part of my rehearsal is visualizing what success looks like. So this may seem like I’m not in the present moment but this is part of my preparation. So I actually know what in my mind, I’ve rehearsed, what it feels like when I’m done with the pitch, what the audience is look–with their look on their face is. I’ve even anticipated some of the questions. But overall, I visualized a very positive outcome. And I also tie into how it feels inside to know that that outcome happened. So that’s my visualization. And I think it really, really safeguards that flow. So that’s #2. Get in flow and stay in flow.

Okay. #3. This is when I bet you all can relate to. Did you know that I’m afraid, deathly, of public speaking? It’s true. Doing this podcast has definitely helped me out in this regard, for sure. But I’m still very much intimidated by public speaking. And I think that’s tied to just a fear of being visible. And so many of us have this, especially as founders. One of my mentors taught me a super effective tactic to combating this. And once I realized this tactic and started to practice it, I’ve actually never been afraid of public speaking since. And I want to share it with you right here and now.

Okay. So we know, in Pitchfest, I’ll be up on stage delivering this pitch. And I know it’s super, super important to get what I have to say across to this audience. I truly, truly, truly believe in the mission of the Intrepid Entrepreneur, and that mission is to bring startups in the active outdoor lifestyle industries to success. I’m not sure you guys knew this, but you may. Nine out of ten entrepreneurial businesses fail. That is a true statistic, I can’t believe it’s true, but it’s true. It’s true across all categories of business. In our markets, every single one of them–outdoor, snow, bike, endurance, travel–every single one of those markets was built and founded by and furthered by entrepreneurs, okay?

Why then was there not a resource dedicated to bringing more outdoor founders to success? Instead of wondering why and kind of being mad about the fact that it didn’t exist, I just decided to build my own. And that was the Intrepid Entrepreneur. It literally was built to power success of outdoor founders. So that is a super important mission. I am so incredibly passionate about it. As I’ve said many times, if I wasn’t in these great industries that we’re in, I don’t know where I would be or what I would be doing. But these industries means so much to me, and I love the people and the businesses in the brands and the experiences and the environment–everything about it, so much. And I do know that without entrepreneurial innovation, they will not stay special.

So the Intrepid Entrepreneur exists to give that back. It exists to strengthen that. It exists to keep what we have incredibly special. Ours are passion industries. We are super lucky to be involved in passion industries, and entrepreneurial innovation is what is the catalyst of a passion industry. It’s what founded it, it’s what furthers it. So I know that it’s such an important mission in the Intrepid Entrepreneur, it’s so important in that regard, and I know that I am merely a delivery mechanism of that message and mission. That has to be conveyed to the super important audience. It has to be made visible, and I want to get more and more people sign up to support it.

So knowing that I’m merely a delivery mechanism of my important passion-driven message of the Intrepid Entrepreneur completely takes me, Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, out of the equation. And it makes it easy for me to present. I’m literally just the delivery mechanism conveying a message to a very important audience, for something I believe so, so strongly in. And that’s that. I don’t really let myself get in the weeds or get nervous or anything. I am literally here on a mission to convey an important message to my audience. And if you practice that with your public speaking or fear of being visible, you too will notice, it takes the personalization out of it. It makes you feel less like you’re about to get run over by a truck. Because literally, it’s such a scary, fearful feeling when you’re afraid of public speaking. But if you look at it this way, it turns the whole thing around and makes it actually something you show up for, like running and gunning.

So that is the third tip. And to me, I think, one of the most important. And I just really, really–I’ve been kind of saving up this solocast. I wanted to this a few times over the past couple weeks, but I knew every week has unfolded and I’ve learned more for the Pitchfest. And now I have two weeks to go. The deck is done, I’m in rehearse mode, and it was time to get this all in front of you. So thank you so much for listening today. And please know, I’m curious to know what you think of this. Or if you might have any tips or strategies I can share with our audience here, just drop me a line at questions@intrepidentrepreneur.net. And if you know anybody who is creating a pitch deck, send us along to them. That’s what podcast are for, in my opinion.

Thank you so much. I always love to hear from you, and I’m very, very grateful you’ve taken the time to spend today with me here listening to what the OIWC Pitchfest has brought to my life. This is an incredible program, one that I’m so fortunate to be involved in. Thank you, OIWC, and thank you in advance to all of the judges and all of the people in the industry that will be attending this in Salt Lake on August 2nd.

All right. Everybody, until next time, go big.


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