The one-minute pitch
Yesterday I spent the evening at TechCrunch Meetup Stockholm + Pitch-Off. It was the first time TechCrunch conducted a similar event outside the US, and it also meant the starting point for the Symposium Week (Brilliant Minds) in Stockholm.
Being involved in a number of startups, both as advisors and more hands-on, it is always interesting to attend events like these. In all honesty I must say that it’s been a while since I listened to pitching companies, so my expectation that the pitch quality had increased since the last time was high. Unfortunately, one can say on that front, it was nothing new. Seen as an average of all the 10 companies that pitched one can say there was much room for improvement.
Now I do not know the conditions for the companies that had been selected to be part of this event, but no matter what this must have been as a great opportunity. In particular, with a jury of renowned VC’s such as EQT Ventures, Northzone, Atomico and 500 Startups.
“The one-minute pitch”
Having only one minute to summarize one’s business can of course be difficult, but if that is the conditions that one has agreed upon then you should be able to deliver. And with the subsequent questions from the jury there is also an opportunity to fill up with more information. There are some important things you have to take in to account before you stand up and pitch; the purpose of participating, and what to say in order to achieve this. Whatever the context, the first impression is always important and in addition it cannot be assumed that the listener understands what it is that makes your particular business ‘unique’, it is up to you to explain. A pretty good starting point is to answer what it is you are doing, what problems you solve, how the market looks and how far you have come. Or if you have to be totally crass, it’s all about what is said in the classic line from the movie Jerry Maguire – “Show me the money”. Or at least give a sense of how the business will make money. Investors do not understand offhand all the technical details or industry-specific conditions, but they are good at understanding business models and how companies make money.
I know that startups often have limited resources, but to have a good product or service that does not reach out because of poor communication is nothing short poor judgement. I have written about this in the business weekly Veckans Affärer (In Swedish), “How to get talent and money to meet” and a possible solution (also in Swedish) in the blog post”Communications for equity, can that be an idea?“. If yesterday’s event gave an indication of how it usually looks these days I for one think it is time to raise the bar, both the companies and the investors are worth it.
Questions / comments?