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

 

A Summer Of Web Discontent Or Bliss

Just when it appears that the economy is failing, the stock market is chaotic, housing prices are down, and it looks like the future is bleak, there are always people who are succeeding and working. So, I am not so sure about this horrible future.

While those of us in our 40s and 50s or older freak out as we get let go from jobs with corporations that we have been with for 5, 10 or 15 years, there is another group of workers who are working through the night on their own businesses.

This group is a variety of people. They are 21 year college kids who see that this is by far the best time to ever start a business online, with unlimited access to millions on the web with just an idea and a keyboard. Never has there been that much opportunity to do something different, get access to the world, use the tools that are out there, often free, and just do it. These young people and others (not so sure if I am one of them) are regrouping themselves for a new career after figuring out there is none out there. There are those who have been working the part-time thing on their own thing for quite a while are getting ready to launch.

Getting Ready To Launch

It seems like this new hard core group, and they may be 15, or 75, I might add, are gearing up for their big launch. I am doing it too, as we get Take It National, Inc. ready for market. This is the same conversation I have with Don from Austin, who is building a new kind of online business generator, or Jeromi from California, who has a new kind of dental floss, he is getting ready to launch. And then there is the lady we met who is starting a business of sending out young cute female models to boxing matches, wrestling, auto shows…

I guess if you don’t have the patience to go through the process of starting your own business and want a job, then follow some of these people around and when they grow their business big enough you will get a job from them, someday soon.

Where Do They Hang Out?

Now, not that I am a joiner, and even if I do join, it is only as an experiment typically for me, but my business partner and I have been hanging out at CEOSPACE. Got nothing bad to say about them, especially now that I am a member. They take in the wide-eyed, wondering if they can do it on their own crowd, entrepreneurs to be, and give them an street smart MBA like education in a weeks time. I think from our recent experience, that CEOSPACE is for the serious entrepreneur with the serious idea… My business partner has a similar type of training system for the every man called StartupBusinessBootCamp.com. This one is for the masses and it can handle any idea. Startup Business Boot Camp is running these weekend boot camp events around the country. If you are in south florida I would check it out.

Real MBAs

Finally there are those like myself, who suffer through the full MBA curriculum. In fact, I did it twice, once at Farleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ, where I did not finish my MBA. I finished my second at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL in 2006. Either way, this is a little more than a week, 2 weeks or a weekend. It is a serious academic exercise whether you go to Harvard or FAU. You do this for you mind and not for the paper, because the paper will do a little for you in a practical sense. You still have to sell yourself to make it work for you. In fact these other boot camp and CEOSPACE types of education I am finding more practical and more geared towards startups. Sorry about that, but I am yet to find an MBA with entrepreneuralism that is honest and direct. They are more like outings for professors.

Where Do The Hungry Hang Out?

Well, if you haven’t already put the words “Startup YOUR TOWN” or “Business Group YOUR TOWN” or “Entreprenurship YOUR TOWN” into google, you will find a mixed bag of groups in every town out there. There is BarCamp, an Internet Social Media Startup Group, which is for the youngest and boldest of entrepreneurs starting out mixed in with bloggers. BarCamp is in most big towns out there along with WordCamp (A WordPress Conference That Runs In Most Large Towns). I would provide a link here, but BarCamp is always so disorganized an event, I can’t find one single national link…

There are also a dozen civic, technology, marketing, social media, internet or other related startup groups in every town. Just look around and attend and maybe you can find some bliss.