Remaking the Pitch: Reuse Strategies in Entrepreneurs' Pitch Decks
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Examination of how Korean entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurship program revised their English-language slide decks for their competitive presentations (“pitches”) by reusing content from professional communication genres, including their own documents and feedback from potential stakeholders in their target markets. Research question: As entrepreneurs learn to pitch ideas to unfamiliar markets, how do they revise their slide decks by reusing content from other professional communication genres? Specifically, what strategies do they follow when reusing content? Literature review: The professional communication literature demonstrates that reuse tends to take place in documentation cycles where documents are set in interaction with each other and that reuse itself involves rhetorical choices. Yet such reuse strategies have not been examined in existing studies of entrepreneurial pitches in marketing and technology commercialization. Methodology: In an 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 reused content from professional communication genres, including those that they had generated as well as those generated by market stakeholders. However, reuse went simply beyond accepting and copying feedback; as they learned to make their pitch arguments, these entrepreneurs had to weigh this feedback and engage with it critically. This reuse can be characterized as Accepting (repeating verbatim or in close paraphrase); Continuing (extending lines of argument); and Resisting (rebutting lines of argument). These findings suggest that entrepreneurs need all three strategies as they refine their pitches for their target markets.