Flickr CC: Theloushe

{ Pick My Brain! is fixed price service tailored to early stage startups, gender wage gap adjusted for female founders. }

I had the pleasure to join and mentor 5 of the 6 top startup teams at the recently held Mini Seedcamp Copenhagen together with a great mentoring team. During the day Michael Jackson of Mangrove Capital Partners held a great speech where he, besides from laying out some hard facts about angel investments in EU: “Basically, you won’t get any“, also gave two important advice: “Give before you get” and “Always be selling”.

Give Before You Get – Importance Of Paying It Forward

In my opinion, understanding why it’s valuable to build network, share knowledge, help out, and be part of the startup ecosystem, is a key to becoming a successful entrepreneur in the long run. As keeping close eye on the Swedish startups, I do see a difference in the performance of those who actively participate in the ecosystem. It’s hard enough to recruit, find business partners, get intros and raise money as it is. It sure doesn’t get easier if one’s not out there building relationships, but just collecting business cards. I find the Seedcamp mix of mentors with startups on both sides of the table, and not only matching investors, experts and startups, as very valuable to all participants. Great practice for everyone in giving before getting. And whether you’re looking for advice or money, Seedcamp events are the place where the following advice truly applies: 

“If you want to raise money, ask for advice, if you want advice, ask for money.” Jason Nazar, Co-Founder & CEO of Docstoc, via Mark Suster

The Timeless Art Of Pitching

The second advice, “Always be selling” to customers, employees, investors, suppliers and family, is what one could describe pitching in a nutshell.

Alasdair Bell and I had a long talk about how to improve the pitching quality of the teams, and I promised to get back with good examples. Since there are tons of great pitching advice, it practically should be impossible for anyone who can use Google search not to know how to pitch. And yet, there’s a lot of work left to do.

Nonetheless, no matter how great the advice, they are useless without practice. Not being prepared, especially when pitching in front of an audience, is not only being disrespectful to the audience, it’s disrespecting your own product. The very thing you’re passionate about and want the whole world to know about.

I’ve chosen four short videos, and let Mark Suster start by demonstrating the core ingredients of an elevator pitch, or rather the “cocktail party” pitch:

  • Show energy and catch the attention the first 15 sec (by showing a site/demo if you have one). If you’re not excited about your product, why should we?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • How are you solving it?
  • Who are you selling to?
  • How are you making money?
  • What’s your competition? – and most importantly,
  • Don’t forget to be human, no complex buzz words or sales pitches, use numbers instead. Show why you are special as a person. Keep in mind: “People buy You first. When they trust you, they will buy what you sell.”
  • The closing, i.e. what kind of help are you looking for. (This should be clear when you apply to Seedcamp.) The more prepared and clear you are with what kind of help you need, the more value your startup will get out of the event.

To get an idea how this works in practice, I’ve gathered three examples of real elevator pitches. This Week in Startups with Jason Calacanis is a great place to practice and get help to improve a 60 sec elevator pitch.

Two examples where the pitch doesn’t do justice to the idea and needs to be improved:
Jason’s Shark Tank: BIGLocal with advice from Roelof Botha of Sequoia Capital
Jason’s Shark Tank: Brand Yourself  with advice from Phil Kaplan of Blippy

The third one is a good example of a precise elevator pitch:
Jason’s Shark Tank: Timeshare Juice with advice from Michael Robertson of MP3Tunes

Naturally there’s a difference between 60 sec, 3 min, 5 min, and 20 min pitches, but once you get the 60 sec one right, you have a solid foundation to build upon. Here’s a 15 min crash course by David S. Rose on TED talks on how to do a longer pitch.

Mini Seedcamp London – Last Call For Mini Seedcamp Week 2010

Mini Seedcamp Berlin coming up next is already closed for applications, but you still have one more chance to apply for the main Seedcamp Week 2010. Mini Seedcamp London, 27th July, applications are now open, and that will also be the final chance to apply for Seedcamp Week 2010. The deadline for Mini Seedcamp London is midnight, 30th June. Don’t wait and miss the opportunity. Read also Reshma Sohoni’s thoughts about the future of early stage investing, and why Seedcamp is relevant for your startup.

Looking forward to mentoring the teams at Mini Seedcamp Berlin and listen to Fred Destin of Atlas Venture give a masterclass version of his “Hacking Venture Capital” workshop. Berlin, see you soon!

More Mini Seedcamp Copenhagen: Pictures (please add yours to the Seedcamp Flickr pool), Twitter list: teamsmentors.

Paula is Digital Product Advisor and Top 100 Women in Tech in Europe, focusing on Product, Go-to-market, and Internationalization strategies. Rated as one of the very best startup mentors in Europe, she has to date mentored over 150 digital technology companies on product, marketing and growth. Pick My Brain! is her fixed price service tailored to early stage startups, gender wage gap adjusted for female founders. Contact Paula for digital strategy work or book her as keynote speaker about #Startups #WomenInTech #GenderEquality #Entrepreneurship. Read more about her work and connect @Twitter, @LinkedIn. “You never learn anything when you speak, only when you listen”Roelof Botha / Douglas Leone, Sequoia Capital

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