Preparing for pitch day…what to expect

13th June 2018

Preparing for pitch day…what to expect

Back in April, the John Lewis Partnership announced that, for the first time in its five year history, JLAB would be expanded and run throughout the year, with three chances in 2018 for both established businesses and new startups to participate.

We launched JLAB in April and submissions for the health and wellbeing theme are in. A shortlist has now been drawn up and these businesses are busy getting ready for the pitch day on 27 June. With this in mind, the JLAB team and previously invested businesses, Exaactly and WeFiFo, from the 2017 programme, have shared their insights on how best to prepare for pitch day.

Research, research, research

It goes without saying that you need to know who you’re talking to on pitch day and having a solid understanding of what the judges are looking for so that it fits in with their business proposition.

Bea Warner, Exaactly co-founder and CEO: “Try and really dive into the John Lewis Partnership and Waitrose, and then apply your demo/story to their business case more than anything. Get across how your offering would benefit them. Research where they are trying to innovate currently and learn who’s in the audience.”

Check the tech

On pitch day, when it comes to setting up the presentation, demo or visuals, there is nothing worse than something going wrong last minute so make sure you’ve reviewed and practiced everything within your means.

Seni Glaister, WeFiFo founder and CEO: “The first time you see the stage area is as you walk through a crowded room to pitch, and you only have a matter of seconds to assess the set up, so the less surprises the better.”

Get your timing right

There will be a four minute time limit for pitches, so keep it concise.

Seni: “Four minutes is a very short time to communicate even the simplest of concepts so we focused on just a couple of key messages that we hoped would resonate.”

If you miss a point in the pitch, you still have the Q&A
You will be pressed for time, but remember you still have the chance to impress in the Q&A session.

Seni: “The Q&A is the moment where your passion and belief will really shine through and it’s a great opportunity to expand on all those additional points that time might have precluded from the pitch itself.”

A chance to build new relationships

The pitch day is an experience, it’s not just about the presentation but an opportunity to engage with other businesses and entrepreneurs who are facing similar challenges.

Bea: “You never know who you’ll meet so always make new relationships wherever and whenever you can – who knows where it may take you! Prior pitch day I’d reached out to three ex JLAB businesses through their website chatbot to find out more about the programme. One of them I became such good friends with he attended my wedding two weeks ago!”

The atmosphere

Each business is naturally going to have a different take on JLAB pitch day and the most important thing to remember is that everyone is there because they are innovating and the invitation to pitch is recognition of this.

Seni: “I’d describe the atmosphere as adrenaline-fuelled.  You could feel the tension in the air, but it was exhilarating rather than terrifying.”

Bea: “Buzzing, nervous, excitable, tense!!! We wanted the opportunity so badly, that we were highly strung throughout the day, but still managed to enjoy it!”


If you haven’t yet applied for JLAB but you are interested in what’s coming next stay tuned to this website where we’ll be announcing the next theme in July.