By July 28, 2009 Read More →

Proto.in Edition 6: Poor Pitch

Somebody please tell me what exactly happened at the three-day Bootcamp that preceded Proto.in Edition 6. The agenda note said that the Bootcamp would, among other things, “teach and groom (the showcase startups) with everything that goes into the mastery of delivering a pitch.” The results at the July 25 showcase in Pune were disastrous, to say the least. Not one startup that presented at the showcase (each was given six minutes) answered with precision or satisfaction the six essential questions that a good elevator pitch should address:

  1. What does the product or service do? Guy Kawasaki recommends in ‘The Art Of The Start’ (recommended reading for every bootstrapped entrepreneur) that this question should be answered in less than a minute. Which means it has to be simple and precise.
  2. Who are you selling to? The entrepreneur should be able to clearly identify the end user, which should automatically illustrate why that person would be using his product or service.
  3. How will you make money? Most pitches at the showcase spent the least time on this one.
  4. Who are your competitors? Everybody has competition. Knowing the competition implies that you know your market.
  5. Why are you better than the competition? This is where the startup finally gets down to explaining what its key differentiators are, what problems it solves that the competition does not.

Hopefully the Bootcamp is going to be a regular feature and will be taken more seriously in future. No matter how much the organizers holler about “venture capitalists being incidental to the event”, ultimately 90 per cent of startups who turn up at an event like this expect to get noticed by investors who may fund them at a later stage. So, getting that elevator pitch right is of utmost importance. The flash and crackle of showmanship is great entertainment but of little use.

Now, on to the 14 startups showcased in Edition 6:

Bankbazaar: Founded in 2008 by Adhil Shetty, Arjun Shetty and Rati Rajkumar. Online realtime loan disbursal platform. Based in Chennai. Seeking venture capital.

eMart Solutions: Founded in 2009 by Aditya Bhamidipaty and Srikanth Chunduri. The product, GoVasool, is an online group shopping and reverse auction marketplace. Based in Bangalore. Seeking venture capital.

Vigyaapan Technologies: Founded in 2008 by Ankush Gupta and Ramayya Krishnan. Mobile (user base) analytics and advertising applications. Based in Mumbai.

Time Vision Infotech: Founded in 2009 by Siddharth Goyal. The product, Conwizta, is a content wizard and testing application. Based in Kolkata.

Vrixx Education Solutions: Co-founded in 2008 by Santhosh Thriviraman and others. Web portal solution for educational institutions that streamlines activities related to academics, administration and communication. Based in Bangalore. Seeking venture capital.

Enterux Solutions: Founded in 2008. The product, English Seekho, is a telephone-based tutor that imparts a course in basic English. Based in Pune. Seeking venture capital.

Compark Education: Co-founded in 2009 by Raju Moza and others. The product, TestMerit, is an online entrance test preparation portal. Based in Ghaziabad. Seeking venture capital/ investment.

ThinkCore Technologies: Founded in 2008 by Narendra Narayana and Santhosh Thrivikraman (he is also a co-founder in Vrixx). Enterprise communication and collaboration solution. Based in Bangalore.

Aerosoft Systems: Founded in 2006. E-commerce reconciliation system. Based in Pune.

HyCa Technologies: Founded in 2006 by AB Pandit, Anjan Mukherjee and Vivek Ranade. Makes reactors (patent pending) that use energy dissipated by collapsing cavitation bubbles to modulate physical, chemical and biological processes. Based in Mumbai. Seeking venture capital/ investment.

Intsolvers Technologies: Founded in 2006. Automated optical inspection system for auto component manufacturers, etc. Based in Trivandrum.

TouchMagix Media: Founded in 2008 by Anup Tapadia. Digital media solutions. Based in Pune.

Vardenchi Motorcycles: Founded in 2006 by Akshai (no surname). Custom motorcycle manufacturer. Based in Mumbai. Seeking venture capital/ investment.

Automotive Robotics: Founded in 2007 by Rajeev Ranadive. Bolt-on-Kits to enhance the performance of existing cars. Based in Pune.

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Comments

  1. vikas shah says:

    Hi Snigdha,
    We want to launch a magazine on entrepreneurship .Would you like to help us in strategising.

  2. Freeworld says:

    Ha Ha… Sudhir reminded me of Sajid Khan… trying his wits to outwit the audience… Mobile Phones ringing on the podium…People walking up and down the stage all the time..maybe the proto.in team should watch the event all over again…

    and CS…I don’t think most of the finalist were from Pune.. but i could be wrong…

  3. CS says:

    I Agree with Sasi. There some things that should have been taken care of
    1. There was no one to one interaction between the VC’s and Promoters.
    2. The Quality of startup’s is still questionable, also why were most of the finalist’s from Pune ?
    3. Pathetic arrangement at the reception, Hoards of people at the reception and no one to manage.
    4. VC’s should be given preference because… They are the ones who are going to put in their money in the startup’s that Proto.in selects. The more investment’s the bigger the platform.
    5. Suhir… on your website.. you talk about VC participation and also your presentation spoke about it being a platform for VC’s and Promoters getting on the same platform.
    6. with Due respect Sudhir…The anchoring and the presentation also showed lack of coordination.

    However, inspite of all these..I will still try to attend the next event.

  4. Hi All, Thanks for your comments.

  5. Kishore says:

    nikhil,

    i agree with Sasi. When few media guys at the forum can demand (and were provided)for preferential treatment instead of standing in Q. The guys at the reception made a mess, unable to sort between vcs, general public and entrepreneurs (media guys got special badges as they didnt stand in line).
    In how many of these startups, would u invest YOUR MONEY?

  6. Nikhil says:

    Sasi,

    disagree with you on the quality of startups. I thought that companies selected for his showcase were quite good, and as a collective, fewer disappointments than at previous or other startup showcases.

    Secondly, why should there be a separate line for VCs and entrepreneurs?

  7. Sudhir says:

    Hi Sasi,

    I write on behalf of Proto.in. Ravi Narayanan is a VC and he is a part of the panel. So is Sushanto who heads SINE – the IIT Mumbai incubator.

    We don’t think entrepreneurs and VC’s need separate queues — like we have said many times before this is not an entrepreneur meets VC pitch forum.

    On the other issues – light, latop fixing – we were a little handicapped due to a variety of reasons. Write in to us on contact@proto.in or sudhir@proto.in, we’d like to have you over to perhaps help us address some of these issues.

  8. Sasi says:

    I totally agree with Snigdha. The showcase event was disappointing as they failed to address key issues in a time bound and precise manner. The arrangements like sound, setting up ppt etc took way too long. There were beelines near registrations and no separate lines for VCs and entrepreneurs. Overall, I’m disappointed and would think over to attend the next edition. The quality of start ups were also below par. Organizers need to revisit the method of short listing the companies. I believe there is no VC on the panel.

  9. Nikhil says:

    Completely agree that most of the 6 minute showcases did not address key business questions – very little on potential/existing clients, alternate revenue streams, competition.

    Which is why I felt that the Q&A should have been longer, to make up for that. Even during the Q&A, at least in one instance, the answers received were incomplete. TouchMagix did a great demo, but how much time was spent on the business case?

  10. Santosh says:

    Ravi …oops sorry for misreading your comment.. thanks for the clarification…About getting better, definitely agree there is always scope for improvement in the preparation and the pitches. Personally looking back to the lead up and the video of our actual pitch I can see several areas where we could have done things a bit differently and involved the audience a bit more… We are wiser for the experience.

  11. Sudhir says:

    Hi….I disagree here. I thought almost all the pitches were well above the mean and this was the same view I got from all investors and entrepreneurs there.

    I don’t really know where this analysis is coming from…perhaps like some of the comments above Snigdha should elaborate a little more…with case studies perhaps.

  12. Ravi says:

    Santosh,

    My response to the article was – yes the pitches have to be better and there is most definite room for it.

    One of the things Snigdha has got wrong in this analysis of her’s is that proto.in’s 6 minutes is to pitch the “product”. The showcase is aimed at a general audience and not only a investor. That’s how product launchpads are designed. They aren’t B-plan competitions.

    All questions mentioned in the article regarding business viability of the product need not be addressed on stage completely and they cannot be without getting into specific domain details that completely take the focus away from the product.

    The key is to convince the audience which includes the investor that this product solves a real problem and has customers who are willing to pay for it.

    And in that pitch, yes we can get better. And we certainly are going to!

  13. Siddharth says:

    Snigdha – Why don’t you answer these questions.

    How many start-ups have you worked at?

    How many investor acquisitions have you been involved with?

    What are the exact credentials you have to rate pitches?

    None to all…would assume. I rest my case.

  14. Alok says:

    Hi Snigdha,

    It’s interesting to note that you always have something negative to say about all Start-up events in general.

    I completely agree with Santosh, I think over 90% of the start-ups covered these points. And I wonder why you haven’t given any examples.

    Quoting Guy Kawasaki is all well and easy… but can we please have some originality? This wafer thin style of writing doesn’t deserve to get published even on this crappy site.

  15. Santosh says:

    Hi Snighdha,

    First up thanks for the coverage :)

    I do beg to differ and I think most startups had a good pitch, in fact I am surprised that Ravi also endorses this opinion that the pitches weren’t good!

    Proto.in has a very stated and concentrated focus on the demo of the product(arguably rightly so) and is not just the pitch. In fact is to be the central piece around which everything else has to be said.

    Inspite of this most of the start-ups did cover 4 of the points you mention and probably left out competition. In fact personally we tried to cover the team, product demo, need, product, market, USP and revenue streams…

  16. Shashi says:

    Ah, that is quite harsh to say none of the startups was up to the mark as far as pitch is concerned. Only first 3 questions could be meaningfully covered in 6 minutes. Some startups could have skipped giving cv of the founders, but that’s far from a disaster.

    Would love to see your reviews for these startups.

  17. Ravi says:

    The boot camp was for one day only this time due to some logistical issues.

    There was significant improvement with the startups after the bootcamp. But the execution did lack a wee bit at the proto.in showcase as there probably wasnt enough practice after the bootcamp. We will be looking into this aspect way more seriously next time. Thanks for the feedback.

  18. Shane says:

    I totally agree with you, none of the startups got their pitch right. The bootcamp needs to be more focussed in arming these entrepreneurs better. Otherwise Proto.in could have gotten other basics right like the sound, etc.