Six startups flew to San Francisco last week to participate as finalists in IBM SmartCamp: Scale, a pitch competition for growing startups in partnership with angel investor Jason Calacanis and his media organization LAUNCH. Each startup would have four minutes to pitch their company on stage at LAUNCH Scale to an audience and a panel of judges.
In addition to the pitch competition, the startups met with potential investors and business mentors.
Here’s a round up of what they learned, how the competition went down, and who took home the grand prize.
How to pitch – with angel investor Jason Calacanis
All the startups went through a rehearsal with angel investor Jason Calacanis a few days before taking the stage. Calacanis helped the startups up the ante on their pitches by providing them with great feedback. Here are some highlights from Calacanis’ session for all founders to think about:
1. Show your product! And show it right away! This might seem obvious to some, but many founders get stuck telling the audience all about the product without ever showing a demo of what it actually does, making it hard for the audience (be it investors, judges, clients etc) to fully grasp what you’re doing.
2. Use good examples! Founders should provide memorable, concrete examples that illustrate why their solutions matter.
3. Answer questions with short, concise answers! After you pitch, your audience is going to have some questions about your business model. Listen to what is really being asked and provide a satisfying answer that is to the point – or risk not being asked any more questions.
(To get more great startup advice from Calacanis you can always download This Week in Startups, attend LAUNCH Festival, or apply to the LAUNCH incubator).
What Silicon Valley taught these global startups
From Daniel Tamiosso co-founder of Mecasei.com: “The most important thing we learned this week was about business development, and, specifically, about “Going Global” – even though we are running in a niche market, we need to keep this vision. Getting there is very competitive, and it’s a very intense.”
Dustin Onghanseng, co-founder of uHoo, was rejuvenated as he realized through conversations with investors that their mindset should be: “Go for the business model that you want even if you know it’s impossible to do it now because of lack of resources.”
The competition heats up
On the first day of LAUNCH Scale the six startups gave their four minute pitches to a live audience and a panel of judges. The judges asked follow up questions then ranked their top two startups.
After all the scores were tallied, MedAware and ShieldSquare came out tied!
So, who would take home the $25,000 investment from Calacanis? A tie-breaker the next day would decide.
MedAware and ShieldSquare took to the main stage on day two and pitched to an audience of 500 people. Jason asked each of the startups a series of questions about their business model, revenue, and expenses, and then kept the audience in deep suspense as he contemplated aloud which startup he would ultimately choose to add to his portfolio. Finally, the suspense was over and he awarded the $25,000 prize to ShieldSquare along with a surprise spot in the LAUNCH Incubator.
“We are thrilled to win the SmartCamp: Scale event that saw participation from the best of growth stage companies across the world. We look forward to scaling our business to the next level with the visibility and connections we made at the event,” said Pavan Tatha, CEO of ShieldSquare.
Congratulations to ShieldSquare, MedAware, and the four other startups that were finalists in the competition!
IBMers around the world have provided a lot of support to help these six startups grow their businesses. Learn how your startup can work with IBM.