Making the Pitch: Examining Dialogue and Revisions in Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Decks
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Examination of how Korean entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurship program revised their slide decks for their presentations ("pitches") in response to professional communication genres representing feedback from potential stakeholders in their target markets. Research questions: As entrepreneurs learn to pitch ideas to unfamiliar markets, how do they revise their slide decks for their pitches when interacting with other professional communication genres that represent the concerns of market stakeholders? Specifically, what changes do entrepreneurs make to the claims, evidence, and complexity of arguments in their pitches? Literature review: The professional communication literature demonstrates that the revision process tends to take place in documentation cycles where documents are set in interaction with each other. Yet such revision processes are not studied in detail in existing studies of entrepreneurial pitches in marketing and technology commercialization. Methodology: In this exploratory qualitative study, researchers textually analyzed 14 sets of five related document genres in the archives of an entrepreneurship program. These genres represented a full cycle of activity: application to the program, initial pitches, initial feedback from program personnel, detailed feedback from representative stakeholders in the target market, and revised pitches. Interviews and surveys of program personnel further contextualize the data. Results and conclusions: Entrepreneurs revised their claims and evidence based on their dialogue with their target market. Some of the entrepreneurs altered their slides to make more complex arguments rebutting stakeholders' concerns. These findings suggest that entrepreneurs engage in dialogue with their target markets, but their engagement tends to be guided by tacit, situated experience rather than through an explicit, systematized approach.