The founder of Swarmsales Ankur invited me to join him in an event called Friday Pitch Day. It was located at a venue called Plug and Play in Silicon Valley. Coming from Cincinnati, I had never experienced this nor even heard of it. I was excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture of an entrepreneur. When first arriving in Silicon Valley, I was amazed by the amount of I.T. and technology companies there were in such a condensed area. This was especially new for me because I’ve never been surrounded by so many startups and ideas at once.
When I entered Plug and Play, it was quite overwhelming. There were hundreds of people discussing their businesses and getting input from their peers. It was extraordinary to see how many different countries were represented and how different their ideas were. The event was essentially a 2 hour time where the individual’s goal was to promote their company and request funds or awareness from their audience. Ankur was also one of the CEOs who was presenting his startup to the audience. The idea of it sounded very unique and reminded me a lot of a commercial.
A few startups that sparked my interest were VideoMyJob, Resonado, and Sudu. VideoMyJob was a company which specialized in designing branded video job ads using a smartphone. Resonado is a company that revolutionizes the audio industry with its patented speaker technology. Finally, Sudu is a company that offers an end-to-end platform that matches shippers and carriers based upon route optimization.
The reasons why they were interesting was because they showcased very different problems and a reasonable solution to them. Their pitches grabbed the attention of their audience and proved that their idea was a viable solution to their problem. They also portrayed themselves very professionally and were able to handle criticism when questioned about their product. After hearing some of their pitches, I had learned many of the assets required to correctly pitch a product. This allowed me to learn some of the key techniques for persuading my audience and grabbing their attention. It also taught me ways to professionally demonstrate my idea, while making sure I’m not coming off as cocky or demanding. What amazed me, even more, was that this event was a weekly arrangement. It showed me that there was a world of ideas and startups that could solve any problem.
The event showcased many different fields and interests from various startups around the world. It featured up and coming startups as well as established companies who sought more attention. The audience consisted of investors and critiquers who sought to question the presenter and give feedback on their demonstration. After all the companies had pitched, they were judged by a panel of people in the audience. Then, everyone in the room shared a meal and discussed their companies privately with those in the room who were interested.
It was interesting to see how one pitches their company and what were the most effective ways of doing so. Some individuals demonstrated their companies by using videos and others used product demonstration. The most intriguing thing was to see the different components of a pitch. Most were similar in that they all addressed a problem and tried to solve it through their product. Their presentations included business models, competition awareness, projections, sales, revenue, and much more. However, I learned one must be concise in a pitch because it is typically only 4-5 minutes long. Once the pitches had concluded, it was neat to be able to talk with some of the presenters and get their advice and insight into their origins. This was a time where people are able to make potential deals or just chat about anything business related. I was able to get advice from some of the people who were pitching on what are the main ideas when promoting a company in such a brief time period.
Some of the tips I had learned on how one should perform a pitch in such a finite amount of time include
- Do not show videos while presenting because it distracts the audience from the presenter.
- Be aware of the competition and be different
- Be brief in your demonstration, but effective in your point.
- Showing your product and backing it up with numbers makes your presentation more effective
- Be able to take criticism with a grain of salt because no product or idea is perfect. There is always going to be someone who denies the validation of your product, so you need to be able to change or address their complaints.
Overall, it was a thrilling experience and one I would love to participate in later in the future. Being from Cincinnati, it really opened my eyes to the field of entrepreneurship and what it takes to become an entrepreneur. The various startups handled their respective problems in unique ways and it made it more interesting to see the backgrounds of how they did it. It also allowed me to understand how to pitch my own startup and how I should appropriately go about doing so. Furthermore, I was able to meet different individuals from around the world who specialized in different areas of interest. Coming out to Silicon Valley has been an amazing experience and has lit the entrepreneurial fire in my belly.