We recently guided you through the scenario of a Pitch Day, its prologue, plot and feel, culmination, epilogue, and why you shouldn’t miss out to become a protagonist in one. And since we like to keep your thrilled, it’s time we revealed the moral of the story.
There is indeed something more about pitch days you need to know. That one special touch that makes Startupbootcamp pitch events so different.
We actually take quite some pride in our approach and we definitively want to share with you how we do it and why we do it.
The Problem with most Pitch Days
“How many people are on your team? ‘What is your most recent milestone?’ ‘How much money do you want to raise?’ ‘How much revenue do you have so far?”
This sort of ear-bashing coming from the audience of ‘experts’ is a pretty common ending to a pitch presentation. I regularly attend quite a few events where entrepreneurs are invited to pitch, and I keep on surprising myself every time the Q&A session starts. I am surprised to once more hear the same 5-10 well-rehearsed questions thrown back to the presenters by the panel of ‘experts’. I ask myself ‘How didn’t anyone care to ask something different?’
The problem with all these ‘smart’ questions is that they don’t add a lot to the entrepreneur’s understanding whether they’re on the right track. It’s a sheer waste of time, since 1. The time planned for Q&A is too limited to get to the real point of a startup’s plan to monetize and grow and 2. the ‘experts’ will stay for a few minutes after the end of the event, usually to network with other panelists and then leave. Why? Because they usually happen to be random people.
I’m a big fan of the approach we at Startupbootcamp developed because it can’t compare to any other similar event of an accelerator, and because we care. I’m a humble man, don’t get me wrong, but I am also a Venture Capitalist, so I tend to appreciate a question well-spent.
What a Pitch Day Should Really be About
Well, banal, but yes, it should be about adding value. Value to startups, to entrepreneurs, to investors, and to entire local ecosystems. The value for us, of course, is that pitch days help us attract the best companies from various regions. We know that you get what you give, and therefore we are committed to the startup scene per se. We want to see you much better off. So we strive to help you in every way we can.
Serious mentoring here
Enough prelude said. To make sure each and every participant ends the day having gained something, this is what we do:
1. Closed-doors. Always.
We stand for handpicking. We only allow the mentors, participating startups and selected journalists to attend the event. We prefer that entrepreneurs who are not invited to pitch do not join the event in the audience. The reason is very simple. We want to make sure participating companies have 100% of mentor attention and are asked only relevant questions.
2. A balanced mentor panel
Members of the investment team of Startupbootcamp HighTechXL mix up with people from the local ecosystem. We strive to invite local investors, successful entrepreneurs, executives of technology organizations, and high profile people. People of a variety of backgrounds who can actually advise you decently and provide more varied feedback, focusing on multiple verticals of your business.
3. The 5/15 minute format
Teams have 5 minutes to pitch their venture. Countdown 3…2…1, time’s up, the bell rings. No questions are allowed after the pitch. After all 10 companies have taken their turn presenting, the mentorship sessions start.
Every company spends 15 minutes with each and every mentor. We implement a rotating system principle, resembling speed-dating. After 15 minutes with one mentor, every company shifts table with a different mentor. In the end of the day every company will have spent 15minutes X 6 mentors (on average) = more than 1 hour of discussions with only relevant people. You can’t find that in a typical startup event.
It is about creating a safe environment, where you will be neither denied nor judged, but rather get ideas on how to improve.
5 Immediate results
It is not a rare event that some companies are offered a place at the accelerator’s final selection days on the spot.
I, Nick, Believe that:
A pitch day can catalyze a lot of creative potential. What’s more, it brings all these people together, physically, so they can meet, exchange knowledge, encourage one another, and eventually create trust=collaboration. That’s why it’s so important to have only the right people on pitch days. It’s that simple.
And the feedback we are getting from entrepreneurs is always extremely positive. It’s just so rewarding.
I’d love to hear your comments or questions at @kalliagk. In the meanwhile, check out how our first Pitch Day in Eindhoven went >>