When we got the news of being one of 20 teams presented at Seedcamp we felt the pressure growing on us. The team has done a good job developing the technology but now we faced a different challenge. How to pitch the relevance, market size and scaling plans to the VC-s that are attending the event?
We built up our presentation on a very simple case – the seedcamp.com website was clearly not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 and 7 that make up 20% of the market. I practiced the pitched about 10 times in total (with small variations) and we went on to the rehersal event on Wednesday.
Since the Seedcamp team got delayed with flights we were at the hands of local Seedcamp mentors and graduates. Nearly all teams were present and did their thing. The level of presentation varied widely. We got actually very little feedback to our pitch. But that was about to change later on.
After the practice session we went to hang out to F-Hoone with some other teams and later on Seedcamp’s Carlos and Kirsten joining us. And then it happened: Carlos asked me to pitch. It did not go that well. We got valuable feedback from Carlos what might interest an investor and we headed on to the office to polish the final pitch to be delivered in the morning. We actually made only minor adjustments to the pitch and ignored Carlos’ recommendation to swap the Seedcamp example with a more relevant one.
The morning started of with a nice surprise – the President of Estonia dropped by to deliver the speech and (surprise!) hang around and listen to the pitches. Our slot was second – so I had enough time to get my heart rate up and tell my team that probably I have the adrenaline rush of my life.
And I did. Three steps away from the president I delivered the pitch and then hit a memory cramp – I could not recall what company Gomez was sold to. I just came up with a name and moved on. Only one person told me later that he noticed the “crash”. Other symptoms of presenting to a big auditorium were also present – shaking limbs and high pitch voice J. I’ve had bigger auditoriums when doing lectures in the university but this time it was so much more pressurizing.
Three minutes passed like in a dream and soon I found myself back in the seat. Marti and Tõnis mocked me about messing up the example, but seemed quite happy with the delivery. Now we could relax and watch the other teams do their sweating.
During the coffee break a couple of people came buy and congratulated for a great pitch. The Estonian in me thought that they were probably trying to be nice, but after a few other comments I could relax – the seedcamp.com example had worked and had worked well!
After the panel discussion we had to take our places in the mentoring corner and prepare our questions to the mentors. We had done our homework and were ready to shoot some questions towards the mentors. We had received the list before and knew roughly with whom we were dealing with.
The mentoring sessions were intensive. We decided to ask the mentors about how to price, package and spread the word. The level of mentors varied wildly. In the first four groups that were assigned to us, we had usually 1-2 people who were quite responsive and giving us good feedback. And the last group that could choose their mentee as they felt like it was really engaged and threw many good suggestions on the table. Interestingly most of the people who came to mentor us in the last round felt the pain personally and two of them were interested in becoming our customers.
In short: we went with an idea of developing a tool to developers. We came back with the recommendation of developing a tool for marketers. And that’s what we’ll be working on during the coming months.
As usual, the most useful contacts you’ll develop in the bar. The whole bunch went to F-Hoone again and I simply cannot count with how many people we talked with. We got some good stuff on what VC-s are interested in, how we could target our market better and how to share the word.
Seedcamp is a great event to test whether your idea might have traction. We actually learned that while your idea might not be the next Instagram you’ll still get good insight if your business might fly high or not. In any case – you cannot lose!
- Don’t change your pitch at the last night. If it was enough to impress people earlier then it’ll be enough the next morning. You will likely not be able to get the pitch to a reflex level anyway.
- The market is everything. If you want to impress VC’s then focus on market size and your relevance to that market. Remember that VC-s are interested mostly in businesses that will generate more than 100+ million USD revenues in some perspective. Think huge, not big.
- Listen but filter – The mentors usually see your business through their own prism. If there is some social network background they’ll tell that “ignore profit, go for user growth” and so on. About third of the mentors are actually valuable for you.
What it did for us?
As we found out this morning then someone tweeted about us in the Australia-New Zealand region and now the sign-ups have started to flow in in flocks. I hope we have time to talk about that later…