My Blog

Thoughts & Musings on Startups, MVP Design & UX

Startup Weekend Pitch Fire Tips

by | Nov 30, 2017 | MVP Design, Product development

“What is a ‘pitch’?” you ask? “Do I need to have powerpoint?” you query. “How much financial information do I need to have?” you implore. The good news (and possibly at the same time the bad news!) is that you have only 60 seconds for your pitch so all you need is you, your voice and your enthusiasm for your idea.

Powerpoint? Presentations are explicitly not allowed, so don’t waste your time on it!

Do yourself a favour: …and before you pitch, do a basic google search to see if your idea is already out there. Your audience will be frantically googling while you pitch to figure it out already, and if it’s already out there, and you don’t have a unique slant, chances are your idea won’t get picked to go through. Better to figure that out before you pitch though!

Numbers and financial mumbo-jumbo?  A basic sizing of the market opportunity would be ideal and will give your pitch credibility bit it is in no way required, e.g “there are xx thousand small to medium brick and mortar clothing retailers in Ireland & the UK alone who are not yet online”. Keep it basic as you have 60 seconds – you will not have time for too many numbers. Bear in mind your audience – descriptions  of the opportunity such as google insights trends will do well also (look at 3d printing as a trend – that’s the kind of trend you want to see ).**A tip is never to use numbers anyhow – imaginative comparisons usually work better e.g. instead of saying  8.4 million people, say the equivalent of the population of New York City or to relate it to your audience, that is, almost twice the population of Ireland.

What can I pitch? You can pitch any idea including for-profit, non-profit, social, etc. The event is strongly tech oriented with the majority of ideas being mobile and web grounded.

You can pitch more than 1 idea. However if both/all ideas are chosen, be prepared to release one of them into the crowd to be worked on by a separate team as you can only be on 1 team. In saying that, in my personal experience, the environment is usually more helpful and collaborative than competitive so you can of course help other teams out and collaborate if beneficial. You will only gain by having your idea worked on by others, and hopefully you will interact with then enough to establish a relationship with the team even if you’re not explicitly on that team for the weekend.

Finally…What do I cover in the pitch? It’s actually pretty simple.

  • Introduce yourself in less than 10 seconds! Who are you and what is your background? And of course the name of your idea/product. **A good hint is to pick something descriptive and memorable so that people will remember you after all 10 or 20+ pitches have been heard (it’s easy to forget who’s who). (5-10 Seconds)
  • Outline the problem illustrating the urgency of the need for solution (ideally with some sort of sizing, such as the size of the industry, the potential size of the audience (e.g. for a US focussed geo-targeted ambient messaging service, the audience sizing would be smth like over 4.3 million people ride the subway system every day) (10-20 Seconds)
  • Outline the vision for the solution and how it solves the problem in a compelling way (don’t focus on product features here – there isn’t time!)
  • Let the audience know who you are looking for to make up your team. Remember your team member audience will be made up of designers, developers and non-tech – you are pitching to them to join your team for the weekend.

What if my idea isn’t selected? The best philosophy for the entire weekend would be to roll with the punches! If you’re doesn’t get selected you should forget about it, go join another team and give that team your all with a good attitude and enjoy yourself. Just because yours wasn’t chosen, it doesn’t mean the idea isn’t good. I have personally seen where great ideas haven’t been chosen and some not as good have been. The popularity of ideas is just that – popularity – not ‘quality’. Topicality for that particular sector can vary wildly month to month and this might just not be the month for your specific idea. It could be that there are a couple of ideas which are too similar. Or of course that you may need to go back to the drawing board to improve how you are pitching your idea – either way, the session following the pitchfire is a great way to get feedback on your pitch and your idea – an early win in a benefit pack weekend.