How To Run A Successful Tech Start-up/Networking Pitch Event

After 10 years of attending events by Gold Coast Venture Capital, the EDC, The Funding Post, MIT, eMerge Americas, SFIMA, SFTA, New Tech Community, Miami Innovation Fund and probably 5 or 6 other groups in South Florida, I decided we would run our own tech pitch event here at @dsxlabs in The Greenhouse in Boca Raton.   We ran the first event on Wednesday, October 15th. I heard it was a great success from the attendees.  We are running a follow up event on Wednesday, November 19th at 6pm at The Greenhouse.  To learn more click here.

Would I Pitch?

I am definitely not new at giving pitches to raise capital myself.  I have proven to be quite average.  But I keep on trying.  I have given about 4 pitches this year alone for my own start-up.  What I was trying to do with this event is to make sure the attendees get what they need from the event, the best I could help them.

More About Pitches

I am trying to classify these pitch events in his blog article. I attended 2 FundingPost.com events this year.  They are good at what they do and really serve the venture and angel community and not the entrepreneur community well.

Most of these funding events are centered around a successful entrepreneur, an Angel Investor speaking or a Venture Capitalist speaking or a panel or a combination of both.  And typically 75% of the event revolves around these speakers and panels.  These types of events are good.  I have been to quite a few and learned a bunch of stuff.   Some allow for pitches after the event, some don’t.  Some charge, some don’t. They are all different.

Problem for all the entrepreneurs with these typical events is they don’t really get the exposure they need and usually there is not enough time at the end for the entrepreneur to make the contacts with potential investors that is needed. What people don’t understand is trust is probably the number one issue when investors look at tech start=ups.  Will this tech start-up survive and can this guy, gal do the job?

What Is A Tech Start-up Pitch?

By pitch, I mean a person gets up and sells their concept to a crowd, which could have a bunch of investors, angels, etc.  So we have established pitching for seed capital, for instance, requires getting up and saying what you do, the market, how you are going to market, how much capital you need, etc.

What Is The Difference Between Pitch Types?

There are 3 types of pitches.

A Pitch Deck Pitch

There is the old standard Pitch Deck presentation.  It would typically be a 10-30 page powerpoint presentation.  There are a few alternatives out there like Prezi and Google Presentations.  At this time I would highly recommend against both those alternatives.  Prezi is a terrific app, but it is a bit of black hole in terms of your time and it can be distracting to viewers if not done well.  Google presentations may have gotten better but last time I tried it, it was just useless.  Plus you need a screen and hardware to run a pitch deck presentation.  This is an old school way of pitching now.

A 3 Minute Elevator Pitch.

In 3 minutes you need to cover 5 core areas for most investors to peak their interest.  They are what is it?  what’s your business model? what is your market size? how you get to market?  and what do you need and why are you pitching?  Not easy to cover in 180 seconds.  That is the pitch I prefer though for investors to get a sense of what you do and your capability to explain it.

A 1 Minute Pitch

I did one of these at a recent FundingPost.com event in Miami.  For about 50% of the people pitching it just turns into a disaster.  At the event I attended where I pitched 2 entrepreneurs never got past saying hello. They were totally not where they should have been at the 30 seconds/half time. It is virtually impossible to get  your points across in this manner, so I don’t recommend running a 1 minute pitch.  It is a waste of time.

My Philosophy

We are focused on running events which help entrepreneurs, by giving them time to pitch and giving them the time they need to network with potential investors, advisors, co-founders, tech partners, business partners and other resources.  So, we spend a little bit of time on letting companies pitch, have no or little speaking (that’s what other events do) and we let people mingle using CEO Space techniques.

So, when are we doing the next one.

We just announced our 2nd tech start-up pitch event and networking on Wednesday, November 19th at The Greenhouse run by @DSXLabs and The BRIC (Boca Raton Innovation Center). I am starting to search for the 10 companies that will pitch.  At the first event about 1/3 got their pitch on track.  2/3 were lost.  A few did not use our format to answer those specific questions or got nervous.  It truly is nerve-racking to get up in front of an audience, especially your peers.  So I understand the nerves.  That is why I recommend to people pitching to have a piece of paper in front of them that keeps them on track if they lose their mind when they talk in public, like me!

If you are interested in attending or pitching at our next event then keep an eye on both our EventBrite and Meetup Group.  The best thing for you to do is join our Meetup Group, see below:

http://www.meetup.com/Boca-Raton-Tech-Start-ups-Meetup/

We also have a separate EventBrite listing:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dsx-labsthe-bric-tech-2nd-start-up-pitch-event-nov-19th-tickets-13965576415

 

Publishing Your Own Book For Free

40 years ago publishing a book was not always about how famous you are.  Today if you are famous, that generally equates to book sales. It used to be about the quality of the writing. I am still an avid reader and I aspired as a kid to be a writer.

In those days the only way you published a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, was sending in your print manuscript to a publisher.  I specifically would buy the Writer’s Guide, which still exists, but alas I never completed my stories, my books or anything that resembled a book.  I did, however, write two screenplays, which I have actually never sent off.  Still insecure and thinking I am not good enough to publish, I really never completed this journey.

A Perchance Meeting

About a month ago I ran into a publisher and asked him about how I would go about publishing a book based on my blogs.  It would cover most of the same subjects, but would be nicer, clearer, and directed at a specific audience.  He told me that typically it would cost me around $2,000 to put everything together to publish my book.  This did not sound good to me.  I am either too cheap, or more importantly, I don’t think I would actually make more than $2,000, so forget about that.  This would require selling 100 books.  Not a chance in hell.

However, he did direct me to a website called CreateSpace.com .  I started by creating an account on CreateSpace.com.  What I have noticed so far is you can spend about $2,000, but you can also go as far as you can with CreateSpace.com without spending a dime.  You just have to do your own work to get it done.

I started the publishing process, I am still waiting to see if there is a place that will require me to enter my credit card.  Has not happened so far.  I could be wrong.  I am trying to publishing without spending any money, and that is what this blog article is about.

Step 1  – Create An Account

I went to CreateSpace.com and created an account for myself. Very simply and easy to do.  No charge required.  CreateSpace.com assigns you a member ID.  You can log off and log back in easily.  Just mentioning because I am looking for any gotchas.

Step 2 – Create Your Book or Project

Second I clicked “Add A Project”.  They ask you if it is a book, a video, dvd, etc.   I said a book.  I entered the name Website Feature Discovery.  That’s my temporary name.  I added a subtitle. They ask a few other questions like if is a series, the author name and edition.  Nothing to complicated so far.  They then generate an ISBN Number for you in order to publish the book.  I realized, wait, I haven’t had to enter my credit card yet.  So as far as I know it is still going to not cost anything.

Step 3 – Trim and Word Template

You choose your book size.  The most common size is 6″ by 9″.  You can change that book size.  You can download a word document that is formatted exactly how your book will appear.  You can use this to create in Word the final book manuscript that is used to print the book.  Finally, there is a book cost calculator you can click to help you figure out how much the book will cost.

Step 4 – Interior

Ok, this was the first page where there was an optional cost of creating something more than a cream page color.  If you accept the common settings on the interior, it is still free.  If you want something special design services, fonts, etc, that starts at $199.  I clicked Skip That!

Step 5 – Cover

They have two free options and one paid option.  For free you can use their cover generator or upload a PDF file to spec with your cover (I am assuming color).  For $399 you can pay for design services.  I tried out their book cover generator and it seems like it works.  Have not yet spent the time finishing up using it, but is seems like it works…

Step 6 – Complete Setup

This is where you review the interior, cover and book options.  Once you have completed the set up, it is time to start building your manuscript.

They give you an estimate of how much it will cost to publish your book.  For instance my book is 130 pages and 6″ by 9″.  It comes down to about $2.50 per book.  They also cover how much royalty you will be making if you sell on Amazon, Kindle, in dollars, euros and pounds where your book will be available.  If I sold my book for $16.95, I would receive about $8 royalty per book.

So the royalty situation is not great, but at least it’s something, considering I have not put up a dime, just my time.  Hey that rhymes.

Lastly, once I publish my book, which I am calling “Thinking Start-ups”, will post that here!