Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The 3rd Dimension in Pitching

iEvening’s Power Pitch session took on a new twist when we invited noted pitch consultant, Laura Allen to join our workshop. This gave entrepreneurs a chance to test their pitches, have the group break them down and let Laura help them build it back up again according to her proven 15 second pitch formula.

They key to pitches is that you really have understand everything about you and your plan and then ruthlessly cut it down to the absolute essentials. They also have to be the ones that matter to the appropriate investors. Most important – you have to establish your credibility as the person to deliver and execute the plan. You also need to know how to read an investor so as to calibrate your pitch and then give them the right call to action.

In the real world, this is harder than mastering a golf swing. Sure, some people just get it but everyone else has to really work at it. That’s why we have a standing room only workshop!

What takes the Power Pitch workshop to another level and delivers a steady stream of rave reviews is unique is that we take you to the next level and introduce you to the really big picture: how do investors actually perceive a pitch? We call this the symbolic dimension and it is distilled form our experience of listening to investors after thousands of entrepreneurs “have left the room. “

What investors come up with is not necessarily what you think. This is especially true in the Start-Up world where business ideas change so much that it really is more about who you are rather than what you pitch. Or as they say, it’s the jockey not the horse they’re betting on. So investors have ways of figuring out who you really are that having nothing to do with the text of your pitch. That is why I have seen a barefoot engineer in his 20’s from Palo Alto get funding while a savvy exec in a suit got a pass. One look credible for his space while the other didn’t.

The symbolic dimension is simply the way in which investors scan you for the information that matters to them. And they all have their little rules of thumb. If you figure that out you will get funding, or supporters, followers and everything else you need to succeed.

In other words, investors see your pitch as a coded enactment of their future business relationship with you. How you present yourself, whether you ramble, whether you are too sure and so on, tells them the following:

1.     Are you coachable?
(Ever wonder why some really bad pitches get funded. Ever wonder why Apple’s management actually fired Steve Jobs? Being a great entrepreneur can mean less than their ability to take guidance.)
2.     Are you specially qualified to do this?
You don’t have to be the expert – in fact, that can work against you because then you wouldn’t be coachable. The issue is whether you have the ability to execute - so your track record in any related way, really matters.
3.      Will your respond to the marketplace? Every idea is great until the market gets to see. Mostly they ignore it or hate it and so you have to adjust or “pivot” – but in a way that doesn’t lose the essence of the idea. Most entrepreneurs believe they are right and the market is wrong. Investors generally avoid those kinds of entrepreneurs.
4.     Will you be on budget? Fiscal discipline, without going overboard is a big plus. So, for example don’t invite the investor to a fancy restaurant – share a sandwich. If you own a BMW don’t drive it to your meetings unless you want them to think you don’t need the money. Talk big but act frugal.
5.     Can you survive the inevitable draught? All stat-ups will face times of low cash and no sales. It’s the ones who can overcome that who matter. Most investors can sniff out a survivor but what they really want is a winner. Someone who can turn adversity into a plus. Find an example in your past that illustrates this.
6.     If there is a known objection to your plan – start with your response to it. For example – you are a me-too company in a crowded space. You have a big liability risk. The market is not growing. Investors will find this weakness in a heartbeat but if you confront it by describing your solution – you can win them over.

As if on cue, on of the iEvening’s Investors, David Beatty of Goldenseeds took measure of how long the speakers went over their 4 minute limit and predicted how much they would go over budget. Yet very presenters adjusted to their pitches in response to that.

There was number of medically related pitches since this is a growing marketplace. This is a perfect storm: an aging nation that lives longer with meds meets digital solutions and a relaxed approach by the FDA.

The iEvening’s winner was AgSquared – an arguably unlikely winner since New York investors are not known for their interest in farming. But in this case, by tapping into the locavore and health consciousness movement and adding the Pitch Panel insight about mentioning mobile data collection and delivery - the idea of providing big time farm ERM software as a freemium sevice for small farmers struck a chord.

The crowd choice was Gift Side Story, a site that helps people, particularly men, buy gifts for their loved ones with a kind of online concierge.

The other presenters were:

Brouha which provides an RFID-based customer tracking system for retailers.

Ross Medical offers a low cost alternate ER patient management system for low-risk chest pain patients

Medsonics US, Inc. is handheld dvice that scan scan for stress fractures

RF Telematics is a HIPA compliant secure wireless network for Medical data transmission

Eco-Auger is a high efficiency, low impact, water motion power generator.

Additional pitches on the program were:

Lessonwriter – an online service lesson capture and development for teachers.

BP Wiz (Book Publishing Wiz) an online gateway for book proposals to publishers.

The Athlete’s Network: a system that brings high school athletes to the attention of college coaches.

FreezeCrowd, Inc: a college social network that interactivelyconnects people through group photos with their friends

Read our thinkpiece on "'Occupy Wall Street' as the Tea Party for Social Media"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dec. 1 - Mobile Health Conference

Dec. 1: The First Health Conference on Mobile Apps
Attend the first conference on the convergence of Digital Media and Healthcare - a demographic perfect storm - on Dec 1.
The Mobile Health field is exploding! By 2015 mHealth will become a $23 billion market with over 500 million doctors, patients and users of apps to help diagnose disease, manage healthcare, fitness and exercise.

That's why you can't afford to miss this important one-day conference hosted by New Jersey's Rutgers University in the heart of "pharma alley" dedicated to the hottest innovations in mobile healthcare today. Hear from top innovators and mHealth gurus as you network with opinion leaders and the investors entering with hundreds of millions in new investments. Visit mHealthcon for more details.
Slated Speakers include:


  • Al Shar, CIO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Tom Wheeler, Chair, mHealth Alliance Partnership
  • Mayor Cory Booker of Newark
  • Jayant Parthasarathy, SVP, Mobile United Healthcare Group   
  • Ryan Sysko, CEO, WellDoc
  • Richard Glassberg, COO, MedHelp
  • Dr. Edward Zuckerberg - "The Father of Facebook"
  • Serge Loncar, CEO, Carespeak  and many more!      
Sign up today at the early bird price of only $125 and get:    
2 Keynotes!  * 4 Workshops!  * Network with 200+ startups, investors, pharma execs and stakeholders.
Meet the innovators breaking new groundCheck out more than 20 exhibits and demos of the mhealth apps gaining  traction.      
Hear from the investors ready to fund.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What "Occupy Wall Street" does for Social Media

Occupy Wall Street Turns 1984 Upside Down - Thanks to Social Media

We always knew that Social Media was the enabler of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement - that's what got the word out in the first place. We just didn't know what direction it would take: what could possibly be the Wall Street version of the Arab Spring?

The answer may involve a tectonic shift in government.
When the first punch was thrown by police white shirts - management - you knew whose bull was really being gored. It wasn't Wall Street that was threatened as much as the administrators traditional power relationships. That's why the police brass instinctively brought out the pepper sprays and clubs then made the rank and file follow suit.

On their own, the regular cops spent little time worrying about the protestors. Most of the time they did what protestors did - stand around checking their iPhones and 'Droids.

Police management may have been taking heat from Wall Street execs just a few blocks from 1 Police Plaza - but this is more that territorial.  It could be the first time hierarchical order has had to confront social media managed organized chaos - and they instinctively hate it.

Social Media has turned the traditional patrol relationship upside down. It is now the world watching the cops and not the other way round. It is enough to make George Orwell rise up and wonder!

You'd think Police Management would have known that the first act of violence would go international. Yet they clearly didn't understand the force they were confronting or they would have been better off house all those protesters at the downtown Marriott. No overtime, no brutality no worldwide public sympathy.

Wall Street is good for 25% of the State's economy and it likes to hire ex-offers for their own extensive security needs. But once the NYPD leadership lashed out they turned what looked like a joke into an International Phenomenon. Now they have attracted a level of attention to Wall Street and government that will change how they operate forever. It will cost them more than money - it will cost them their way of life.

We still haven't taken stock of the fact that government used our money to save the banks and yet, did almost nothing to save the public with mortgage relief. Now the banks are foreclosing those houses and you can probably forget about getting loan. I recently served on federal jury duty where a small time mortgage hustler was indicted by the FBI for a few thousand dollars while the bank that made millions by enabling him - got to testify against him. And boy, were they outraged.

When the crowd is the watchdog and they are empowered that kind of think is not likely to happen - at least not without a fight. This is the battle that has been waiting to happen.

Like Hemingway said, things change gradually and then suddenly.

Crowds have already been taking control in gradual ways. Ask Microsoft what they think about open source - as they lose market everywhere. Ask McCain or Hilary Clinton what they think about the people who microfinanced Obama's election. They haven't exactly gone away.

3 years later, mobile has accelerated the social media that bought "change" and now everyone with a smartphone is probably using it. "Occupy Wall Street" and the opposition it engendered only seems to amplify it's reach. It is already teaching people how to take charge of the political system in entirely new ways.

In countries like Greece, with severly troubled economies people are already taking control of their banks and their currency. In South Korea, they are even taking on some of the police enforcement burden.

How long before we vote by cellphone? Or "buy" politicians with Facebook Likes. Policing is already subject to who has the cell phone video. Almost everyone has one and now they are posting them on on the web taking the presumed authority away from those in charge. Political and business watchdogs are popping up in South Korea which now relies on citizens with cameras and videos for a large part of its prosecutions of corrupt businessmen and politicians.

As Wall Street loses it ability to generate jobs we might wind up doing what the Greeks are did, start using barter with homegrown markets and local currency. With mobile internet and open source software, the tools are available for the taking, free of charge. When governments print worthless money or taxes become unsustainable, smart communication may be a better way to store value. Many Africans now put more value in their cell phone minutes than their local currencies. Ask any Zimbabwean with a $100 billion note.

The triumph for the "Occupy Wall Street" movement is simply to stay on long enough - as they attract eyeballs all of the above cascades down naturally. It was just waiting to happen. Control has begun to shift to the aggregators of social media-connected communities - essentially, the new political parties.
It just needed a nudge, the NYPD brass gave it and the media fanned it. For this, they should probably be thanked.