At Startup Grind: Pitch Bootcamp
As a Top 50 company at Startup Grind's Global Conference 2017, we had the opportunity to pitch @Assist on the main stage to an audience compiled of attendees, investors, entrepreneurs, media, and tech enthusiasts. Oh, and it was streamed live globally so anyone could watch, no pressure!
But before we could go and tell the world about @Assist, we were invited to Pitch Bootcamp, a 4 hour session on crafting the perfect pitch. Now obviously, we thought our pitch was hot stuff already and were ready to take the spotlight.
We arrived at the Fox Theatre around noon and quickly hustled inside to get out of the rain. San Francisco has been in a drought for years, yet the one time we Canadians think we're going to catch some sunshine, it decides to pour.
The room was filled with excitement and people, so we found a couple of chairs and took a seat. We hadn't been sitting for more than a minute when friendly faces came to greet us. Avalow, an innovative product and process for home gardens, was the first startup we met. We recognized each other's company names from social media. In other words, we had done our research on the other companies attending and so had they.
TD Lowe, Managing Director and overall Startup Grind rock star, started with opening comments and introductions, however time was short so things had to move quickly. We were put into groups of about 6 or 7 startups and paired with 2 amazing coaches. Our pitch coaches, Michelle Messina and Chris Neumann helped us tailor and transform our pitches so that they would be received well by any investor.
We thought we knew what investors might like to hear but being a bootstrapped company we had never pitched to them personally. Only through extensive research and feedback did we create our "Killer Pitch" which ironically we ended up killing...but not in the good way.
As the @Assist team sat there ferociously taking notes as each company stood up to pitch, we were writing and re-writing our pitch so we could sound awesome based on the feedback they were receiving. However, memorizing a pitch while writing it and having no time to practice, didn't go over so well. When it was our turn to go, we fell silent, only able to stutter out a few sentences.
Frozen in the spotlight there was nothing left to do or say other than take each piece of criticism with open arms. Michelle and Chris listened to our history, our customer's pain points and how we're solving these points. This helped take our speech from fuddy-duddy to fabulous. We came out feeling confident and once again set out to conquer the conference.
Now, came the time to test out our new pitch. We went back to the stage area which was even more crowded with startups, media and investors preparing for Opening Night. This added an extra layer of nerves to our rehearsal.
It went 1000% better, which isn't hard when round 1 was abysmal. Our pitch was unrecognizable from what we had started with and we were incredibly grateful to have had such amazing mentors who took a moment or 10 to truly help us. Every statement they made clicked and gave us the eye-opening realization we needed before going to the big show.
We stayed and listened to the other startups give it their best go and were motivated by all of the fascinating ideas and people. We had never had the opportunity to be in a room full of so many optimistic entrepreneurs from around the world. The amount of courage it takes to present something you have put all your heart and life into is ridiculous.
We'll end this post with a quote from Ms. TD Lowe herself:
"It's not about perfection, it's about the passion."
Up next we'll be talking about Opening Night.
View all the posts about our journey here.