Luke Aulin On the Importance of Pitching

As a sponsor of LIFT’s PitchFest 2 on September 28, Douglas magazine features a Q&A with Hans Peter Meyer, owner of LIFT, and Luke Aulin, a “serial entrepreneur” and CEO of RTOWN.
Luke Aulin is the founder and CEO of RTOWN, a company recently named one of the Top 20 largest digital marketing companies in B.C. by Business in Vancouver. He’s also the keynote at LIFT’s PitchFest2 on September 28, 2017.
Hans Peter Meyer, the owner of LIFT, talks to Aulin about the importance of pitching well, the challenges of failed pitches and what it takes to nail a successful pitch.

Hans Peter Meyer: Who are you and what is your background in pitching?

Luke Aulin: Before RTOWN, I founded two failed startups in my early 20s. Then I became an “intrapreneur” at a software company called Faronics. I grew two brand new business units from nothing to something, and then travelled the world for a year before starting my latest company. Needless to say, I’ve pitched a lot! Investors, employees, customers and the media. Pitching is a major part of being successful as entrepreneur.

HPM: How has pitching helped you get to where you are right now?

LA: I’ve raised two rounds of financing for RTOWN. I’ve also attracted some amazing team members to work on our vision, which is to help local businesses succeed by making every town RTOWN.

HPM: What was your hardest pitch?

LA: My hardest pitch, by far, was during a time of poor business performance. I was taken through a full four months of due diligence by a VC who did not produce the cheque he’d promised after we got to the finish. We literally had paperwork signed and he showed up without the check to the lawyer’s office. I walked away from him.
About 4 months later we came within about $10 of missing payroll. During that time of cash crisis, I pitched raising a round out of desperation. I was honest about what had happened, but the investors didn’t come through. It was a hard pitch, from a place of desperation, that I failed to get. Thankfully, we didn’t need the bridge funding. We executed like the rock star team that we are and survived. We started running profitably, and we grew.

HPM: What was your latest pitch? Was it successful?

LA: My latest pitch was to Business in Vancouver after I was nominated for Top 40 Under 40. I’m humbled and honoured to say that, yes, that pitch was successful. All thanks to our team around RTOWN.

HPM: Why do entrepreneurs need to nail pitching skills?

LA: Because you’re always selling as an entrepreneur, whether to investors, future employees, the media, or customers. You’ve got to nail all of your pitches to get people to buy into your vision or ideas.
Knowing your business, product and value proposition is essential to helping others understand why they should care about you. Your pitch, to whomever you’re pitching, has to be fluid and compelling. Pitching is an essential skill to develop.

HPM: What kind of advice to you have for entrepreneurs/ start ups on Vancouver Island?

LA: It’s not who you know or what you know. It’s what you do with who and what you know. Great entrepreneurs have a bias for action. It’s all about execution, hustle, determination and the ability to get up after being knocked down. Resilience will serve you very well. Oh, and always speak the truth. No one expects your business to be without challenges. Be straight with everyone. Don’t worry about sharing the warts. It’ll build trust for you, and also help you get the help you’ll need to solve those problems. Ask for help!