How the 3-1-3 Sandwich Helped 16 Global Startups Pitch at AngelHack’s Global Demo Day

What if I told you that you’re only going to remember the beginning and end of this article. Would you believe me?

As an audience member listening to a presentation, a keynote, or a start up business pitch, this is usually what happens.

According to research, there’s a good chance you’re going to remember the beginning of a presentation and the end of a presentation.

This simple and powerful fact motivated me to craft a pitching methodology called the #313Sandwich that helps people become more memorable, more often.

But first, a story.

Back in 2015, I was brought in to launch the undergraduate entrepreneurship program at the University of California, Irvine. At the time the program was called the Blackstone LaunchPad and is now named the ANTrepreneur Center. During the first 18 months I had a unique experience of getting exposure to thousands of startups who shared the same problem: an extremely difficult time communicating their idea in a short amount of time.

Sometimes the answer to the proverbial question, “What is your idea?” was answered in a 10 minute babbling rant that left me more confused than before I asked anything.

This was, and still is, a major problem for entrepreneurs.

It’s a problem so severe that, if not fixed at the root, would be why any big idea never reaches market.

This is a problem I feel is worth solving.

Since launching the ANTrepreneur Center, I’ve dedicated my time to helping various entrepreneurs better craft a message they can deliver in a shorter amount of time, so that their ideas have a fighting chance when pitched or presented.

My solution is the 3-1-3 Method.

It’s an exercise in brevity, and forces individuals to say more by saying less. The name 3-1-3 represents the outcome, which is the communication (or pitch) of a big idea in 3 sentences, one sentence, and ultimately 3 words.

Your idea in 3 sentences

State the problem that you solve in one sentence.

Explain your solution in the next sentence.

Finally, identify the specific target market in one sentence.

Your idea in one sentence

Combine the problem you solve, your solution, and your target market into one sentence.

Your idea in 3 words

CliffNotes of Pitching

Leverage what people already know to connect the dots between existing things and what you do. By using two well-known subjects to compare and tie in your goal, you help people visualize your process and idea. This is what allows you to shorten your idea into three words.

The idea behind the 3-1-3 Method has helped me take the stage all across the world, including in Haiti, China, and Portugal. As a result of implementing my 3-1-3 Method across hundreds of stages all around the world, I feel like I’m chipping away at solving the problem of early stage entrepreneurs confusing the people who they talk to. It’s a methodology with specific steps that create structure for explaining one’s idea in a way that taps into the mental mind maps of those you’re speaking to.

But this pitching solution is not for everyone. It works best for early stage startups who are trying to bring their ideas to market by gaining attention, excitement, and buy-in from customers, investors, and co-founders.

Unfortunately, not all situations where you’re explaining your idea are in a one to few scenario. Startups who are just beginning oftentimes must take the stage and give short pitches to audiences of investors, to explain and ultimately validate their ideas.

As a by-product of watching thousands of entrepreneurs pitch their wares, I’ve been able to stitch and thread elements of the 3-1-3 into a presentation format, which I call the 3-1-3 Sandwich.

When I was presenting my 3-1-3 Method to entrepreneurs at the Haiti Tech Summit, I met Sabeen Ali, CEO of AngelHack. After seeing the impact that the 3-1-3 Method had at the summit, she invited me to Silicon Valley so that I could present the 3-1-3 Method to 16 startups that were winners of AngelHack’s 10th Global Hackathon Series.

These startup teams traveled from around the globe to participate in the annual Global Demo Day event as a culminating end to their pre-accelerator, the HACKcelerator. I was honored to meet and teach the winning teams who represented the best and brightest startup ideas from around the world.

From blockchain technology to gamification of education, the startups were solving an impressive list of real world problems. But they shared the difficulty of crafting a three minute pitch to present in front of high-level investors in a high-tension situation, in Silicon Valley – the epicenter of global entrepreneurship.

No pressure at all, right?

In a closed two-hour workshop, I covered the core elements of my 3-1-3 Method and its application through the 313 Sandwich.

In short, here is how to build a winning pitch with the 3-1-3 Sandwich:

  1. Start with a real-life story about how you discovered the problem you are solving
  2. Uncover and explain the problem in detail in a way that makes it a problem worth solving
  3. Share your solution
  4. Explain that it is not for everyone, and discuss your target market
  5. Close with the same story you started with, but in a new world where your solution solves the problem

This simple structure gives startups a formula for success. All elements they are required to present, such as their team, competitors, projections etc., fit within the section in which entrepreneurs share their solution, but the formula also gives the audience a sense of urgency and need for their solution — all in a succinct method.

The nice thing about the 3-1-3 Sandwich is that it can be expanded and contracted according to the amount of time allowed to pitch.

Of the 16 teams that competed on the Global Demo Day stage, only one could walk away with the championship — and using the 3-1-3 Sandwich, they made their big idea stand out.

The winning company was Goin, a company built by millennials for millennials.

The story they shared was a personal problem they experienced: the more money they made, the more money they would spend. They could not seem to save money.

But this was a common problem, that millennials don’t save money. A problem worth solving.

Their solution was an app that learns information of the user’s financial situation and their risk preferences, then allows users to enroll into automatic saving programs via blockchain technologies that deposit savings directly into investment accounts.

Essentially, they substitute willpower with automation!

They explained how it is not for everyone, and that they are hyper-focused on the millennial market. Specifically, those who make money but can’t seem to save money.

The pitch ended with their same personal story, but now with their app automatically taking care of saving their hard-earned money. They continue going about their normal days spending what they have, but with the difference of their savings being taken out automatically and invested for them.

Do you have a big idea you need to explain in a short amount of time? Use my 3-1-3 Sandwich to structure a story that uncovers the problem that you are solving. Explain why the problem is worth solving, and share your solution. Make sure you explain why your solution is not for everyone, then paint a picture of what the world looks like with your solution.

The power of this method is two-fold.

It starts and ends with a story, and stories help people connect your abstract idea into real life situations. Based on the fact that people remember the beginning and end of your presentation, there is a big chance that they will remember your story.

And people don’t buy your idea, product or service. They buy your story.

Let your story be your guide as you lay out your idea to people who have never heard it before. You will be surprised how quickly they will understand your big idea when you tell them your story.

Take this 3-1-3 Sandwich as an outline and guide as you craft your next pitch and communicate your idea in a way that makes it stick!  

To learn more about AngelHack and their hackathons that happen all over the globe, visit

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