Peer Pitching: Back To The Core And Soul Of a Pitch – Interview with André Knol from Innoleaps

To take you back to the core of the pitch and introduce you to a valuable exercise “Peer Pitching”, we interviewed André Knol, Co-founder and CEO of Innoleaps where he supervises complex innovation programs and loves to realise breakthroughs in the field of strategy and new business.

Peer Pitching

Peer Pitching with André Knol

An exercise where we ask startups to try giving another startup’s pitch. That way each startup can discover how much other folks are actually remembering of their pitch.  We called it: Peer Pitching.

1. Could you first tell us a bit about Innoleaps and the accelerator programs Innoleaps runs?

Innoleaps was founded in January 2014 by André Knol, Patrick de Zeeuw and Ruud Hendriks. InnoLeaps currently has around 20 experts in the areas of ideation, customer development, validation, lean startup, agile, business modelling, execution, pitch training, financing and more. InnoLeaps has a comprehensive and strong network of 100+ top mentors. This eclectic team has one clear goal: accelerate the innovation process at corporate organisations. Our group of experts and mentors is expanding fast in the Netherlands and abroad.

InnoLeaps helps corporates to think and act like startups

InnoLeaps helps medium-sized companies, corporates and multinationals with an intensive corporate accelerator program. Within a very short time frame of only a couple months, we help organisations innovate in a structured process by applying lean startup and customer development principles. The program consists of intensive skill training, workshops, weekly mentoring sessions and individual coaching. The goal of our “Corporate Accelerators” is to have internal corporate teams come up with fresh ideas and effectively increase their innovation abilities. By going through our program at a rapid pace, companies will be able to translate ideas into new business models and speed-up customer and product development in order to shorten their time to market for new business.

InnoLeaps currently runs several projects, innovation programs and corporate (eg. Thales and Philips) and startup accelerators (eg. Vodafone Mobiles for Good). More corporate and startup accelerators at medium-sized companies, corporates and multinationals are coming up in the next months. 

Vodafone Mobiles for Good, powered by InnoLeaps

In the third edition of the Mobiles for Good Challenge ( Vodafone was looking for mobile solutions for social problems. The Vodafone Foundation organises, together with InnoLeaps, the Mobiles for Good Accelerator for the six winning teams. All the teams received a start capital of €30,000 for launching their idea and participating in the Mobiles for Good Innovation Bootcamp: a 4-month intensive accelerator program full of trainings and workshops. The teams, together with around 80 mentors, will work towards Demo Day on Thursday, January 22nd 2015 where they’ll convince investors to invest in their mobile solution.

2. In the accelerator program Vodafone Mobiles for Good, you had a chance to try out Peer Pitching technique. Could you tell us how Peer Pitching works and about your experience testing it in Innoleaps?

The idea of Peer Pitching was first introduced this fall at the Vodafone Mobiles for Good program where we have six startups with mobile solutions for social benefit and change: 

  • WindTales is a serious game for patients with lung diseases
  • The Heppee-app is a mobile tool to support kids and divorced parents
  • OWise is creating a mobile app to support lung cancer patients during their disease process and at the same time send anonymous treatment data to doctors for research
  • The goal of the Into D’Mentia app is to have people understand what somebody with dementia experiences every day
  • Trauma Game Play is an interactive mobile gaming app that will prevent post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • PEZZEP is an online platform where kids can share stories on bullying

Peer pitching: back to the core and soul of a pitch

During our intensive accelerator program the participating teams have to pitch numerous times: elevator pitches; 3, 5 and 8-minute pitches to colleges, investors, partners, clients etc. Every time the teams present their idea, business model, proposition and team all wrapped up in one solid pitch, they adjust and sharpen their storylines inch by inch. Sometimes you notice little progress has been made, or the core of the storyline or soul of the pitch seems to be lost. Change of plans: do some Peer Pitching!

Peer Pitching is simply having the CEO of one team pitch on behalf of the other team. The teams and their new ‘pitcher’ have 5 to 10 minutes to prepare a one-minute pitch. What happened was that storylines, approach, accents and structure were completely different and guess what, in some cases, the pitches were stronger than before.

3. What would you say are the main benefits of the Peer Pitching technique for startups or corporates in your case?

Peer Pitching is a short but very effective intervention to get unstuck, get fresh ideas and new angles in the pitch. The team and their new ‘interim pitcher’ have little time (around 10 minutes) to prepare the pitch when representing the new team. Therefore, they (team + new pitcher) will have to make bold choices, prioritise and get to know the core of the pitch straight away. What sometimes happens is that the rest of the team gets the path to the innovation, the storyline, certain important elements and key metrics seen from another angle.

4. Startups are always advised to tell their personal story of how they came up with the idea for their business, about the problem they’re solving, about their all-star team who can make the solution happen and their metrics. When you look back now, would you be able to tell us which of these points usually sticks the most with the second startup performing their colleague’s pitch during the Peer Pitching exercise? Or it varies every time?

It varies every time. It depends on how long they know each other, their propositions and how often they have seen each other pitch.

My observation is that rather good parts of the pitch are remembered. Good examples are supplemented and strengthened by their own experiences. The weaker parts of the pitch are often forgotten.

When the pitcher has only 10 minutes to prepare a strong pitch, they tend to use only the parts that resonated with the audience; the strong parts. The weaker parts are improved with their own experience, better examples or small and subtle adjustments.

5. From your experience, which advice would you give startups on how to make their pitch more memorable? It can be a pitch tip or an exercise they could try.

It’s all about the team. There are thousands of ideas on a specific topic or in a specific market. None of these ideas are unique. The team, their experience, drive and collaboration is the key to success.

Know your story by heart and deliver it convincingly and enthusiastically: Why you? What drives you and your team? Why is this team going to make this happen?

Last but not least, use The Pitch Canvas (, a brainstorming tool that helps you visualise your whole pitch on one page. The Pitch Canvas is created by David Beckett, the best pitch coach that I know!

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