Are You Not Entertained? How to Win a Startup Pitch Competition in 5 Steps

howtowinapitchcompetition

I’ve either attended, judged or put together so many pitch competitions I thought it would be a good time to share 5 main points on how to win one.

Yes, there is a formula and I’ve seen it work on big VC judges, media judges and the general audience. If you have these 5 things you will most likely win or at least place in audience favourite (as long as the other teams don’t read this post! ;-). When I sit as an audience member I can guess who will win everytime based on these factors no matter what the product is and no matter the founder’s experience level.

Luckily my friend Masaru Ikeda from The Bridge filmed the Lots of Buttons pitch at Startup Asia 2013 because that was one of the best pitches ever from Hong Kong. On the outside, it sounds like the dumbest idea for a startup – but it stole the show, the judges votes and showed the audience what makes a startup pitch work.

I’m going to discount a few obvious things like making sure the pitcher has fluent, non-accented English (this applies to obviously English pitch events), the slide deck is beautiful and not done with Comic Sans and that doing a live-demo is the kiss of death when wifi goes down and you have nothing else to show.

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Subject Lines and Twitter Intros: How Startups Can Build Relationships with the Media

startupmedia

I was asked to moderate a panel at Blueprint’s 500 Startups Day event on how startups can engage the media to cover news about their startups – and there were some interesting discoveries made that I want to share here:

Build relationships BEFORE you want coverage

Raymond Yip of Shopline was on the panel and even though he has very newsworthy news about Shopline’s funding he still started relationships with the key media he wanted to target far before he started any press release writing. He also mentioned being available by email and phone 24/7 for any follow-up questions taking into account a reporters tight deadlines.

Use Twitter

In the immortal words of TechInAsia journalist Paul Bischoff “F*ck LinkedIn!”

Twitter is the way to go when approaching journalists. I personally love Twitter – even in Hong Kong where usage is low – but the world uses this to engage strangers, if you’re a startup in Hong Kong and not on Twitter get on it now and tweet me (@casey_lau) and I will follow you back immediately – and then go follow the journalists on my panel and introduce yourself:

  • Paul Bischoff (@pabischoff) from @TechInAsia
  • Iris Leung (@irismtleung) from @e27co
  • James Griffiths (@jgriffiths) from @SCMP
  • and if you’re reading this and not following @StartupsHK – then, you’re welcome!

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Applications For New B2B Accelerator ‘blueprint’ Closes November 20th; Which 10 Startups Will Make The Cut?

blueprintteam
If you’re a B2B startup looking for a boost, don’t forget to send in an application to ‘blueprint’ before November 20th!

The six-month program backed by Swire Properties employs a “no string’s attached” approach allowing startups to tap into a wealth of resources without having to give up equity. Besides a free workspace, 10 lucky teams will have access to professional support to merge startups with the corporate world, connections to investors and market testing opportunities within Swire’s network. This would include the 300+ companies in TaiKoo Place and the neighboring Cityplaza. The two-floored ‘blueprint’ will also include a co-working space which will also double as a venue for workshops, meetups and pitch events.

We had a chat with Hilary Szymujko (pictured second from right in the above ‘blueprint’ team photo), who heads up all things startups, mentors and investors for ‘blueprint.’ Szymujko has just moved to Hong Kong from London, where she was the investment manager for pan-European accelerator Seedcamp. Back in the UK, Szymujko facilitated the investment deal process for startups and ran ‘Seedcamp Academy’ the fund’s internal learning program for its 125+ portfolio companies.

Szymujko isn’t just lending her expertise to our startup scene but she’s also bridging ecosystem gaps – as Seedcamp has just announced a partnership with ‘blueprint.’ Besides visiting Hong Kong twice a year to run workshops, Seedcamp will also be using ‘blueprint’ as a launchpad for its companies that are keen on expanding into Asia.

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