Start-up Mock Battle in Madrid: 42 Beers
Last Wednesday, a diverse group of the Madrid technology and media community gathered to hear two Spanish start-ups give their best pitch. Press42.com, a platform to help start-ups and the press connect and improve start-up companies’ communication skills, sponsored the event.
42 Beers was Press42.com’s first event. The rules were simple: Constructive criticism, be honest; we are here to learn and be respectful.
Each team was given five minutes to present followed by the audience’s questions and comments. Then Alex Barrera, the host of the event and creator of Press42.com, pitched his version, allowing the audience to compare and contrast.
Timpik, a social network aiming at connecting sports players with each other to make pick-up game organization hassle free, took the stage first. They started with a successful story outlining the problem: the hassle of coordinating and organizing pick-up sports games as well as finding enough people to play. After the hook, the presentation attempted to show how Timpik solved the problem and how the application works. Unfortunately they tried to pack in too much information and subsequently the important content was lost.
Malcom is an analytics and monetization tool for mobile application developers. They took a visually simple approach, but unfortunately the speaker was not dynamic enough to distract from the lack of images. They also spoke too technically for the majority of the audience to understand and did not lead with a hook or interesting story.
Alex Barrera’s versions were significantly simpler. He chose colorful and diverse images, along with an introduction story that together hooked the audience.
Barrera also emphasized one slogan that summed up the companies role, successfully branding it in their memory.
During the debrief many good pitching techniques were summarized. Everyone can improve their pitch and must constantly revise it. This keeps it fresh and up to date, not only with changes within the company and in the technology world, but for each unique audience. Neither Timpik nor Malcom inquired about the audience prior to the event and this showed in some aspects of their presentations.
Basic Tips for a Successful Pitch
The generic structure that should be followed is a hook or story, outline the problem, how your company solves the problem, a simple demos and finally facts of success. But don’t be afraid to throw a stiff audience off and alleviate tension by saying something crazy, out of the ordinary, or including some humor in the hook.
The five minutes time limit was another point of concern for the presenters. They wanted to know “if it was possible to fit more information in?” The solution is not to fit more information in, but to hone down the information only to the key points and nothing more. Try to provide just enough information so the audience understands, but also gets them interested in finding out more. Also the question and answer portion following some pitches might give you more time to show off your company.
Words take up more time and are often less efficient than images. Don’t forget the visual portion of the presentation, especially if the presenter alone is not dynamic enough to capture the audience. The presentation has to cater to both non-techies and techies. The pitch does not need to be overly technical because the developers in the audience will be able to intuitively understand what happens behind the scenes.
Lastly tell the audience who you are through the style of the pitch. Do not take it for granted that people know you or that they care. Prove to the investors in the room that you and your company are worth investing in.
Millicent Walsh can be reached at walsh.millicent(at)gmail.com