Photo from video “Pitching a Web Startup“
I was encouraged to take a look at a video where web startups pitched their companies in 60 seconds. In the small amount of time I spent watching this video, there are several valuable lessons to be learned. Watching the presenters, it is important to pack in a lot of information in a short amount of time and the investors stressed the importance of “showing rather than telling” in the presentations.
It was stressed that investors want to see the analytics curve which includes the traffic, subscribers and trends. They did not care about the current market, the team or the company philosophy. They simply wanted to see what it is.
5 start-up companies presented their ideas throughout the video and were graded by the investors based on the idea and the presentation of the product. Below is a brief review of the companies, their ideas and presentation reviews:
phonefromhere.com (does not have a live website currently)
Phone From Here is a startup idea that allows a website visitor to make a call directly from the website utilizing their speakers and microphone with nothing to install. The company was presented with a financial model that they would make revenue from qualified phone leads. The investors expressed concerns that it was something that Google could easily develop through their Google Talk platform and Skype could also integrate an API that performs the same function. The presenter suggested it to be similar to an 800 number business model.
The presentation did not show what the functionality of the product would look like, which did not entice the investors. The investors suggested that the company was headed in a good direction, however it is not the company’s big idea.
Raffle.it is a raffle business model that allows users to raffle off products. Rather than being a random draw, the lowest unique raffle ticket is selected as the winner. The model is built for everyday users as well as schools and charities to increase their fundraising revenue. An example was presented that if a user wanted to sell a Wii for $200, the raffle platform would allow the seller to sell 200 raffle tickets at $1 each. The company generates revenue by taking a percentage of raffle ticket sales.
The investors were impressed by this model and suggested that marketers would utilize this platform to generate opt-in leads rather than the typical “win an iPhone” scams. Utilizing a platform like this would allow a company to genuinely “raffle” a product without being “scammy”. The presenter showed the product, how it worked and explained exactly how it was used in the 60 second time allotment allowing the investors to give high scores to the idea and the overall presentation.
Following the presentation, I still did not quite understand what this product was and the investors also expressed this concern. It was presented as a social platform that integrated several social network sites together with full functionality to each site. Through this platform, the user could share something on Digg and have it post to their Facebook wall. The revenue model is set-up as a one time fee with license subscription. An investor suggested a model that could quickly be used with a fast install API for their own websites rather than focusing on the sales model.
The presentation did not show the idea fully and focused on the team more than the product. The investors scored the presentation and idea well due to the possible direction the iplatform could lead, suggesting that it does need more work.
The presentation of this product seemed to lead to the impressive ownership of the domain name, however this product is targeted specifically to young women in the 16-24 age range. The investors agreed that this market is overlooked and a product marketed to this niche group is a good idea. The presentation did not show the product which bothered the investors and bothered me as well. It sounded like a blog, although they said it was not a blog or social network. The presentation focused on the market and was criticized by the panel that it did not focus enough on what the product did exactly and that they should not have focused on why social networking and blogging are “bad”
diary.com was presented as a platform that is literally a calendar based diary with superior privacy options that allow the user to share and interact with their “true friends” rather than focusing on the number of friends. Revenue is generated by targeted ads, affiliate network and from premium users. Because of the lack of product demonstration, the investors did not score the product or presentation very well, although they agreed that they are reaching the right target market.
Erepublik is a massively multiplayer game platform and business model built to emulate games like Risk. Like many strategy games, ERepublik allows the user to have an avatar, build custom businesses and dwellings, build an empire and take over the world. What impressed me about this particular game is that it is geared to be playable in only 15 minutes a day and the game was developed under user suggestion. This was described as being built in ‘reverse’. This model has a huge model of success because I, like many love strategy games however do not like the hours it takes to play them.
Because the game is free, revenue is generated by selling virtual currency which was described by a member of the investor panel as “the future”. The presentation and idea were rated very high by the investors because he explained exactly what the game was and showed it to the audience. It sold me.