Recently I attended my first pitching event in person. I have often watched events on the internet and seen how it seems a lot of US startups start their pitch. I’ll give you a clue! They often start with ‘meet Jack’ and goes onto explain Jack/Bill/Susan/Katie’s problems.
Whilst it is always good to try and explain the problem that you are trying to solve. If you are sitting through a pitching competition with 11 pitches in 2 hours, you start to get fatigued. Then if they all start with the same lines then you wonder where the innovation has gone?
The event I attended was a satellite event acting as a funnel for a larger event. There were 20+ startups pitching from across South East Asia and it was interesting to see what they would present. I deliberately did no research. Not wanting to know anything about any of the companies and look critically at the way the pitching was conducted. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly of what was on offer that day;
Eatigo This company offers empty tables from restaurants at a discount during off peak periods. They had a great executive summary at the end of their pitch. This kept the audience engaged as they could continue reading the facts and figures that mattered. The judges were also engaged and mentioned how much they liked this page. Keeping this slide at the end also is a sure fire way of answering any questions that may arise from judges.
Golfdigg This company have created an app for golf course rentals displayed a neat roadmap of where they are heading with their product. They showed where they were in the bottom left corner and had ideas in all the other squares of the grid of what is possible. This displayed to the judges a great vision and it was a slide they came back to during the questions to showcase the potential.
Lack of Preparation
One of the startups got up to pitch and immediately looked out of their depth. The founder started his pitch with the following statement; ‘We found out about this rather late so our presentation isn’t very good’. This shows that the startup can’t handle their time and obviously didn’t view the event as high on their priority list. Needless to say, any questions that the judges asked were not well answered.
Looking at the Screen
It was surprising how many of the startups didn’t know their pitch well. They were constantly looking at the slides and not the audience. For a 2 minute presentation I was expecting the startups to have a better grasp on their material.
Being Well Known
I was debating whether to put this as a negative. If the judges know about your companies funding history then it probably isn’t a good thing! Also, if the judges start the Q&A with ‘it seems that you have been around for ages’. It probably is time to stop doing pitch competitions. For me, a company with a six figure funding history should be able to show a better increase in growth during their lifetime.
It’s a Pitch not a Presentation
One of the startups pitching at the event decided to use a video for the duration of their time pitching. This video had a voiceover so the person who had the task of the pitch was just standing at the front whilst the video played. Quite rightly, as the video came to an end and the platform opened up. The judges’ questioned the presentation and didn’t understand the company. Needless to say the Q&A was short.
Fabricating your Numbers
There is no faster way to lose credibility than lying about your numbers. One founder had a slide with $30,000 monthly revenue but when asked about this in more detail it became clear that this is where they wanted to be and not where they were now. When asked deeper about this it became clear that the numbers were weak and this is no way to present to potential investors.
Lack of Charisma
Being able to engage the audience is not to be underestimated. If you are unable to sound excited about your own product then you will have a difficult time trying to convince the audience.
Don’t look down on Competitors
It is great to mention your competition. It gives the audience the knowledge that you know what else is out there and you the platform to explain what you are doing differently. If you waste this platform by just insulting your competitors. It is likely the audience will question your other business practices. You won’t look like someone worthy of doing business with or investing in.
The Winner Is?
There really was a lot on offer at this pitching event from food delivery services to a stock market for eSports! The eventual winner was Golfdigg who will be attending the main Echelon event, congratulations to them!
If you are thinking about pitching a product or have an idea for a new startup then attending a pitching event is definitely a great way to look at how others are doing it. The education from what you found good, bad and ugly is invaluable. Raising investment for your startup is always a difficult challenge. Using the right tools and having the right approach can give you the best possible chance of a positive outcome.