Practice, Practice, Practice

10 hours of practice for a 3-minute pitch. You only get one shot at making that first impression, especially when Glen Richards from Shark Tank is on the panel ?

When the opportunity to do a 3-minute pitch on bakslap and present to an experienced panel of eight business savvy and entrepreneurial experts with a 5-minute Q&A – I jumped at it. Now this panel also included the very special guest, Dr. Glen Richards. What a brilliant opportunity I thought to get on the radar of someone like Glen and the other panel members.

For those that are unfamiliar with Glen, he has built a multi-million-dollar pet care empire and appears on t.v as one of the Australian Shark Tank investors. How this came about was at 27, Glen bought a small vet practice in Townsville and within 10 short years, had developed five vet clinics and a large format pet store in Townsville as well as two veterinary hospitals in China. Greencross now operates more than 190 veterinary hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. Greencross is also Australasia’s leading specialty pet care retailer, with more than 290 stores operating under the brand names Petbarn and City Farmers in Australia and Animates in New Zealand.

Australian Shark Tank

Now came the preparation. I started with identifying what were the key messages I wanted to leave the panel with:

  1. WHY I started bakslap and the passion it provides
  2. The SOLUTION to address the problems found during our research
  3. The WHERE are we right now in the business
  4. The ASK

My first draft timed at 4 minutes 30 and knowing I had to cut sentences my initial thought was “oh what will I cut? It’s all important”. But the pitch was not to tell my life-business story, rather a clear, concise and powerful overview to get the interest and raise questions from the panel.

A couple more hours and I’d stripped back the pitch to 2 minutes 45 (allowing a little time if I needed to pause during my delivery). Now came the practice. To deliver with impact I needed to know every single word, no cards, no paper. I like to record my presentations and listen to them when I walk, I write it out copious times and throughout the day wherever I am take time to say it out loud.

There’s plenty of amazing people in my network but when it comes to presenting there is always I person I run it by, the brilliant Robyn Pulman. I had complete confidence once Robyn had given her feedback. Next came deciding what PowerPoint slides to match my pitch. Reflecting on the key messages, I decided to go with only one slide. The brand name and motif. No product demo, no stats or images just the panel and myself in constant eye contact.

bakslap - I've got your back

Some more practice and then came the day. A few minutes before I was called, I reminded myself how fortunate I was, to be able to share the story of bakslap with another group of people. For them to see how passionate I am towards sun safety, especially among the youth and creating awareness of melanoma. I was very happy with the pitch! I kept under 3 minutes, plenty of eye contact, a controlled pace and my responses during the Q&A were clear and concise.

Glen Richards and Raphael McGowan

My ASK was for assistance with introductions to distributors and major retailers, as we are now at the stage of having product and wanting to get it into the hands of as many customers. I had Glen nodding his head and he offered to assist, as well as some of the other panel members. 

It was another memorable experience in this start-up journey we’re on. I certainly appreciated the opportunity to meet and chat afterwards with Glen, and who knows…maybe one day I’ll see him again on-set of Shark Tank? ? 




  • Mark Paddenburg
    May 9, 2019 at 12:54 am

    Well done Raphael – so good to see you at the launch and great to see product sales escalating.

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