I'm at Techcrunch Disrupt this week at Pier 94, which is all the way over the West Side Highway (Silicon Alley or Valley this is not...)
It's my first one and takes a little adjusting to the tech- and funding- biases which are commonplace in the startup world.
Case in point: FACEBOOK IPO. FACEBOOK IPO. FACEBOOK IPO. FACEBOOK IPO. YAHOO! WOES. FACEBOOK IPO. FACEBOOK IPO. FACEBOOK IPO. PINTEREST. FACEBOOK IPO. FACEBOOK IPO (in that order)
Then there's the Michael Arrington - Ariana Huffington love affair / spat, which I think may have finally played itself out. Which is good.
These events are pretty grueling for all parties concerned and a special accolade to the startups who have to be "on" constantly as they "man" their booths and work the floor/room throughout the day(s).
I was contacted by several startups and as a blogger/"influencer" and believer in building bridges/relationships with the new content creators/creative class, I wanted to single out those who took the time to reach out in advance of the event:
- ExpertTrivia (Red Ticket Games)
In terms of themes, definitely encouraged to see quite a bit of activity in the audio category. As a podcasting "veteran", I am intrigued with the text-to-talk, next gen conference calls, audio apps etc. Another trend that is impossible to ignore is the photo/visual explosion and truly, brands need to have photo / visual POV's if not strategic approaches nowadays.
Can't believe I just said that, but it's true. Video is all the rage, but "still images" AKA Photos is right up there (or will be)
All in all, I visited with 26 startups and saw another 20 pitch on the main stage. I thought I'd share 10 ideas or tips about effective pitching (at least from the perspective of a brand marketer/agency/potential investor). Maybe you agree. Maybe you disagree. Feel free to "join the conversation":
- Keep it simple (stupid) - the K.I.S.S. approach. This could also be called "know your audience". So many pitches dived into tech-speak and complex walkthroughs of product features versus the classic elevator pitch, the idea, the problem being solved, the consumer value proposition and corresponding benefit, points of differentiation etc.
- Pretend I'm your grandmother. Or grandfather in my case. This is an extension of K.I.S.S. with a key nuance: talk English please :)
- Use examples. Make it real. Or hypothetically real i.e. give me a sense of product in action and in the case of the Evol8tion business model and our brand clients, describe the perfect or your ideal brand activation.
- Let the product do the talking....demonstration is key. if you can do a quick scroll, flip, swish or slide in the time allotted, terrific! And here's the catch...don't rely on poor 3G or 4G or even wi-fi connections, which often times are the product of busy networks (think of where you are after all). Cached or offline demos aren't cheating.
- Do your homework in terms of the crowd and prospective audiences: partner, hire, investor, brand, press etc.
- Be prepared for the Big Fish. If you get a big bite, be ready to pounce and reel it in. Anticipate this as an exception versus norm, but certainly capitalize on the serendipity.
- Anticipate every type of question. You can't be surprised if people ask you how you make money for example. Or who your competitors are. Or a little less obvious, when they compare you to Pinterest or ask you what happens with Facebook or Google decides to do the same thing you're doing...
- Use the audience as your influencers. The Techcrunch audience is a pretty big deal. Just ask them! Seriously though...these people (we) are self-selected as the innovators/early adopters in the tech space certainly, or if not can probably get the message out. So treat them this way..and it all begins by them downloading your app.
- Special offers are key. I saw very little special offers targeted to this audience. In the case of KurbKarma, they deposited 10 Karma Kredits into our accounts. This could be as simple as letting everyone into a closed/private beta. The worst is putting this audience onto a waiting list...even if you release it the very next day (Uber conference, I'm talking to YOU...now can I get some more invites for my colleagues please :))
- Comparisons are fine. If you don't make them, we will. We're a Path meets Open Table. Think Square meets Triangle. Oh you mean, like a cross between Twitter and Instagr.am for Newly Wed Cross-Dressers? I get it! The corollary of this is pushing back when we make the same comparisons or benchmarks.
There are a ton more that came up today and maybe I'll include them in a follow up post.
So do you agree/disagree with me? And more constructively, what tips would you offer up as either successful pitch-ers or caring pitch-ees?