Pitch Camp, What is it Good For?


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By Michael Lang on June 12, 2014


Last week, we attended FourAthens Pitch Camp. Although we were not seeking investors, it seemed like a great idea to put ourselves through the ringer and see how investors might respond to our message.

For those of you who don’t know what a Pitch Camp is, its an opportunity to pitch your company in front of 30 to 40 investors with the purpose of getting coaching and feedback on how to wow investors into investing in your business. In our case, we presented three times in the morning to get advice on what we needed to do differently, revamped our deck during lunch break, then presented a final time in the afternoon.

Since I had never seen a pitch deck, let alone put one together myself, the first thing I did was hunt around for companies that had successfully raised funds from investors to see what their pitch decks looked like. Two pitch decks seem particularly relevant to me to model after:

Linked-In’s: Linked-In Deck Linked-In: What I wish I knew before pitching to VCs

and AirBnB’s: AirBnB’s $13-billion Startup’s 1st Ever Pitch Deck 2011

A great website to find many other good examples is Best Pitch Decks

One thing is for sure: Its hard to compress what is otherwise your full-time thinking down to 5 minutes and 10 or fewer slides. Its even harder to figure out how to tell your story with numbers and facts. And for someone like me who thinks fairly logically, its hardest of all to make an emotional connection with a moving story of why the problem we’re solving is a very real one that will bring in very big dollars. Far easier it is for me to speak one-on-one and describe the genesis of why we’re doing this and talk about the solution we’ve come up with.

So what did I learn at Pitch Camp?

  1. Our message is unclear because we don’t adequately expose the weaknesses of our competitors and current solutions out there
  2. My argument/presentation is too logical and not enough emotional pull
  3. The source of our facts need to be attributed
  4. Tell your story while the room reads your slides rather than reciting the words on the slides
  5. Avoid delving into “how you solved it” and focus on explaining the why and how big the market is and how you’re going to capture a significant chunk of it.

Some advice that I found less than useful:

  1. Do your research (we have!)
  2. Join a local start up incubator program (we have!)
  3. Identify your target audience (we have!)
  4. Put a business plan together (we have!)
  5. Get rid of all the dashboards (got a better way to show your kid’s online activity in summary form? I’d love to hear your ides!)
  6. Assemble a team of experts (we’re working on it)

So if we weren’t going after investors, was the endeavor worthwhile? I believe so! We’re getting ready to launch our Kickstarter Campaign and Pitch Camp really forced us to focus on our message and getting it across quickly and powerfully. Our approach on the Kickstarter has changed a bit as a result and here’s what we’re going to do differently:

  1. Really hit home on the emotional connection. What’s going on today with kids on the Internet is a really, really big problem and we’re going to show that side of the story much better.
  2. Less logical, mundane recanting of facts with the focus on the solution. We’re going to more aggressively target why Chaperone is needed and why every Parent should be using Chaperone.
  3. More focus on the current technology’s short-comings and tuning into the Parents’ apathy at those solutions. We’re different, we’re better, and we’re on a mission to protect your kids with an answer that actually makes sense to the average technologically challenged Parent.
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