Apple acquires Workflow, check out this short pitch

Pitching

The trend toward short, and I mean really short pitches has made it more challenging than ever to stand out. Check out Workflow‘s pitch in 2014 for a look at how it’s done! Recently acquired by Apple.

As reported by Verge:

Nick Frey, Conrad Kramer, Veeral Patel, and Ari Weinstein built the app in January 2014 for a Major League Hacking student member hackathon hosted by the University of Michigan. Judges evaluated contributions from 604 people, taking into consideration usefulness, originality, technical difficulty, and design.

Workflow won the hackathon’s grand prize and was named the best iOS app there. Among other things, the team took home iPad Mini tablets with Retina displays and 128GB of storage — courtesy of Apple. Within a few months, they published Workflow on the App Store. And the rest is history.

Here’s their pitch:

The Future Beyond Pitching

The Future Beyond Pitching

Update

“For entrepreneurs who don’t pitch well — or who don’t fit investors’ mental image of a successful entrepreneur — Demo Days may hurt more than they help…The Demo Day format is not ideal for investors, either. If you’re picking who pitches best, not who runs the best business, you’re not getting the best results.”


Pitching onstage has been a mainstay of startup accelerators and demo days, but things are beginning to change as investors realize that great pitches are not precise signals of great businesses.

Studies have shown that demo day pitches often favor articulate, male, native English speaking, and sometimes hoodie-wearing entrepreneurs from California. Now, more sophisticated investors are casting the search wider and examining startups run by women, older founders, minorities, and yes, foreigners! Investors are using more definitive ways to identify the right entrepreneurs with the strongest likelihood of success.

The “mock board meeting” is a step in the right direction. Ross Baird of Village Capital writes about the road ahead in TechCrunch:

We learned the single activity that had the best results for entrepreneurs was building one-on-one relationships between entrepreneurs and investors.

So instead of “Demo Days,” we changed the signature activity at the end of programs to something we call “Investor Forums” in order to provide initial diligence for investors, help startups improve their business and provide an environment for investors and startups to get to know each other.

First, we invite investors to meet with each company in the cohort for 20 minutes and ask initial questions. Next, we host “mock board meetings” with investors and potential strategic partners, in which the entrepreneurs discuss and receive feedback on one strategic challenge. Finally, we host a dinner where the investors and entrepreneurs get to know each other better — a form of “soft” diligence.

This process is better for entrepreneurs, because it flips the power dynamic: Instead of standing onstage, racing through slides and being peppered with hardball questions, the entrepreneur and investor are sitting at the same table, the entrepreneur is leading the meeting and they are talking through the business as equals. And they get to show skills like critical thinking, relationship management and the ability to take and deliver on feedback: all more closely related to success than a slide deck.

Pitchcraft has always known that pitching is just a communication tool, a means to initiate conversations with investors. That’s why our coaching methods have focused on getting entrepreneurs past the pitch, onto more meaningful interactions, and away from the spectacle of the event. We look forward to adding in mock board meetings as well as other flight testing into our coaching services to help our clients succeed in fundraising.

Beware the Cargo Cult Pitch

Beware the Cargo Cult Pitch

Pitching, Update

“In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land.” – Richard Feynman


Investors notice them from a mile away. They see these people at demo day after demo day. I’m not talking about serial entrepreneurs, rather just the opposite. I’m talking about the startup CEO who serially pitches for demo day checks and trophies.

Look, we can’t fault entrepreneurs for seeking out all avenues toward keeping their startup alive. I get that $10,000 to $100,000 in prize money is real money, and often enough to get the lights back on. But what if I told you there are startup CEOs who have totally lost their way, and are just pitching for the paychecks and karma?

These startups are often run like a “startup cargo cult” by a founder who has fallen into the cognitive trap that pitching constantly will somehow automagically lead their company toward billion dollar dreams.

Reality doesn’t work that way. Neither do businesses, and any success is made harder when a company distracts itself with pitch competitions and demo days instead of doing something that matters -delivering to paying customers.

Pitchcraft advises client founders to constantly re-evaluate why they are pitching. Is it for the publicity alone? Is it an ego thing?  Is there anyone in the audience whom they know will attend and want to network with? What’s the stated ROI of attending and winning the demo day? Confirming those details is one of the first priorities of pitching.

Pitchcraft Online Course

Pitchcraft Online Course

Update

Pitchcraft’s clients are founders on the move, so we’ve launched our online course so that they can learn anywhere, anytime.

Check out our first free course, Y Combinator Primer, which curates some of the best advice and information about pitching at Y Combinator’s famous accelerator and demo day.

Link: Pitchcraft MOOC

Interview with Technode at Slush Shanghai

Interview with Technode at Slush Shanghai

Media Coverage

Congratulations to #Waffle for their recent travel to China to drum up new investment and opportunities, and on their interview with Minji Kim from Technode!

Pitchcraft and #Waffle worked together on improving their English pitch deck during 1:1 coaching sessions. While the pitch deck was professionally formatted and beautifully designed, it was cluttered with too much information. Heewon, the CMO, simplified their brand message and shortened the overall length of the written and spoken content. Within a few practice rehearsals, he was ready.

Waffle Wi-fi platform connects advertisers, businesses, and travelers with an elegant, premium Wi-Fi experience that’s free. Tourists in particular can simply swipe an ad for a local business and instantly receive free internet access without the hassle of obtrusive registration or unwanted ads.

  • Consulting type: 1:1 coaching, pitch deck advice
  • Events: Chinaccelerator, Shanghai Slush
  • Results: $20,000 seed funding. Media coverage. Investor inquiries. Demo day pitches.
Grand Prize at Seoul Digital Forum

Grand Prize at Seoul Digital Forum

Media Coverage, Pitching, ROI

Congrats to CookieVR for winning the Grand Prize at the Seoul Digital Forum Next Media Challenge pitch event!

Pitchcraft and CookieVR worked together on refining the overall business strategy messaging. The founder had several directions he wanted to discuss publicly, and he had to tailor his message for Chinese investors. Together, we worked on focusing the product roadmap from what the company was working on now and what was in store for the future. The result was a focused message that generated excitement about the future of VR, AR, and mixed reality applications!

CookieVR is creating next generation mobile experiences for entertainment and education. By augmenting media clips with virtual scenario-based dialogue, Cookie’s app allows users to learn and experience conversations with famous celebrities, animated characters, or the perfect friend.

  • Consulting type: 1:1 coaching, pitch deck advice
  • Events: Singapore Investors networking, Chinaccelerator, Seoul Digital Forum Challenge Pitch
  • Results: $10,000 Grand Prize. $20,000 seed funding.