Zeitgeist

Zeit·geist = spirit, essence of a particular time

A collection of food-for-thought posts and articles on technology, business, leadership and management. 

The Startup Pitch Process: Lessons learnt (the hard way)

Got featured at YPO Young President's Organization Ignite Magazine this month, blogging the article, for the record and future reference: about-ypo-members

The Startup Pitch Process: Lessons Learned (the Hard Way)

By Eduardo Fernandez (YPO Global One)

These are fascinating times in the tech world. Mergers and acquisitions are accelerating at increasing speeds fostered by all kinds of startup-based innovations.

As part of a management course, the Engineering Leadership Program at the IE Business School in Spain, I have learned (the hard way) how the startup pitch process works these days, and what key messages to convey to investors to grab their attention, and their funding, for your project.

In essence:

1. Focus on the need (the problem) you are trying to solve. Clearly articulate your solution. Sometimes a crisp and thorough explanation of the problem to be solved is more important than the solution we are trying to sell.

2. Metrics: How big is this thing? Market size, audiences, where are they? How much interest do they have? Evidence (have you piloted it)? Reference points can be built quickly out of readily available online tools like kickstarterinstant.lySurveyMonkey or Google Trends and Adwords to show proof of market demand.

3. Demo your solution as much as you possibly can. If an image is worth a thousand words, a real-life demo is worth 10 thousand at least.

4. CompetitionWho are they? What is it that you have and they don’t? What is the plan to outsmart them? Typically, for new tech products or services, it is very much about adoption speed, critical mass, user engagement versus distribution, and branding or financial muscle, but you may have a different approach. Just make it clear and sound.

5. FinancialsThey are not relevant, actually. Conceptually, investors do not consider revenue a responsibility of entrepreneurs; the market decides. Your job is to orchestrate the team and build the product or service for that market so that they (investors) can bet on it. It is very important, however, to clearly state how much funding you are asking for, and what are you going to do with it.

6. The team. Team is crucial in a startup. Investors invest in people not in projects. Always secure a capable team with the required experience and competencies.

7. The motivation. Finally, the most important thing of all: put all your passion into it.

Emotions are the engine of everything we do. If you are wholeheartedly committed to your project, investors will notice by the way you show your emotions. This gives them confidence you are going to stay through the different stages, even if your project runs out of money.

How did it work for me and my team? We had to present our startup project to a jury of seasoned experts at the end of the Engineering Leadership Program, after receiving feedback throughout modules with the University of California, Berkeley, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Out of more than a dozen presentations, our home automation project was selected as the winner of the 2013 Engineering Leadership Program.

View Fernandez’s SmartHome Startup Pitch

Read more on his blog Zeitgeist–Ed Fernandez

Eduardo Fernandez (YPO Global One) is vice president of northern Latin America BlackBerry and associate professor at Menendez Pelayo University. He is also a technology start up investor and entrepreneur. He was the 2011-2012 chapter communications officer for the YPO Madrid Chapter. Eduardo can be reached via twitter at @efernandez.

Start up pitch - Engineering Leadership Program at IE Business School

Fascinating times in the tech world. I have learned (the hard way) how the start up pitch process works these days, and what are the key messages to convey to investors to grab their attention (and their funding) for your project.

In essence:

1. Focus on the need (the problem) you are trying to solve. Articulate clearly your solution.

2. Metrics: how big is this thing?. Market size, audiences, where are they? How much interest do they have? proofs? (have you piloted this?)

3. Demo your solution as much as you possibly can.

4. Competition, who are they? risks?

5. Financials: not relevant overall as all investors consider very difficult to predict what will happen. Very important though to state clearly how much funding are you asking for, and what are you gonna do with it.

6. The team. Team is crucial in a start up. Investors invest in people not in projects.  Always secure a capable team with the required experience and competencies.

7. Finally, the most important thing of all: put all the p-a-s-s-i-o-n into it.

Emotions are the engine of everything we do, if you are wholeheartedly committed with the project investors will notice by the way you show your emotions. This gives them confidence you're going to stay even if your project runs out of money.

For us, prior to graduation at the Engineering Leadership Program from IE Business School, we had to present our start up project to a jury of seasoned experts.

Out of the more than a dozen presentations, this project (our project) was selected as the winning start up, see below on slideshare:

[slideshare id=26433685&style=border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px&sc=no]

Awarded Best Start-Up project by IE Business School at the Global Engineering Leadership Program in its 2013 edition.

Co-leaders: Antonio Mansilla Laguia, COO Kellogg EMEA & Javier Garcia, CFO Endemol

Jury:

. Paris de L'Etraz. PhD. Managing Director Venture Labs at IE Business School

. Ikhlaq Shidu. PhD. Chief Scientist at UC Berkeley's Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership

. Jorge Montes del Pino. PhD. Business Angel & Advisor. es.linkedin.com/pub/jorge-montes-del-pino/7/831/a56

. Roy Richards. PhD. Columbia Tech. Chairman & Board Member at Southwire Corp.

About the Global Engineering Leadership executive program: UC Berkeley has partnered with the IE Business School (ranked 7 globally) and the prestigious Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to offer a global version of the Silicon Valley Engineering Leadership Program.

Click here to see the video.

Thanks to Antonio Mansilla, COO Southern EMEA at Kellog as well as to Javier Garcia, CFO and board member at Endemol.

Thanks also to Mario, Antonio's 9 years old son, who kindly let us into his room at his home to install the Smarthings hub we used for demoing purposes.

@efernandez