First off, I have to give kudos to all of the participants in the Lean Startup Meetup in Seattle. It takes confidence to stand up in front of your peers and pitch an idea. And what a great thing, to have a forum to practice what is clearly an integral skill: the ability to quickly and precisely explain your idea in an engaging, clear way. I know that we will be pitching our ideas in a couple of weeks, and I hope I can keep a spirit of experimentation and practice throughout. I tend to get nervous, which overrides everything.
Of the eleven pitches, I enjoyed Toolz.me the best. The pitcher quickly engaged the audience by asking a series of questions based around the problem they are solving: how to find the best tools on the web. Not only does this create an interactive environment, it shows though audience participation the prevalence of the problem, and how well people relate to it. I also liked that the pitcher used a light touch of humor to bring the pitch down a notch. Connecting through humor creates a less intense environment than a full-on sales pitch. He also uses a nice hook, “the app-bubble,” which helps the audience connect his idea to something they already understand, the tech bubble. He then gives examples of how different roles would find his site useful, not just in a convenience sense, but in useful business applications, for spotting trends and competitive analysis. Finally, the pitcher ends with an invitation to check out a live, working site. His application is already live, demonstrating an already existing commitment to the project. Ironically, I didn’t find the product to be as good as the pitch. I was imagining a more dynamic and searchable experience, but perhaps interactivity this is what further funding could enable.
I found ComputeNext to be the most difficult to follow. The service does sound very helpful and robust, but I couldn’t follow the technical jargon that easily. I got lost in the description of the scenario. I think if the language had been simplified, or the pitcher had compared his service to another, more familiar product, I would have been better able to mentally map his service. I also found his tone very monotone, and therefore it was difficult to know what was being emphasized. Crafting the flow of his argument would have helped his pitch immensely, perhaps by including dramatic pauses, audience questions and a descriptive hook.
Overall, it was interesting to watch these pitches, and I am excited to try pitching our concept. I hope the butterflies stay at bay!