Last week me with SlidePick, and others 70 startups, we were part of the sixth version of the “GeekCamp” Santiago, Chile. An incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs, from Chile and the rest of the world, to show and share their ideas and startups to an incredible audience and an excellent jury. Which came directly from Silicon Valley to evaluate each project and select the top 15 for entering to an accelerating program and a one month trip to Silicon Valley, to pitch for possible investors. A rare opportunity for us in this small country at the end of the world. [zilla_likes] What I always had in mind and which was the principal reason why I really wanted to go, was because of the feedback we were going to receive and the progress, that just in a week, could improve SlidePick. We had a tremendous faith and expectation that we could do an excellent job and that we would go back home as one of the winners. But fate had something else in mind, a different lesson to give us. We started on Tuesday at 9 am, in a room for 70 startups that wasn’t big enough (but I think this was part of the idea). We recognize some friends and we sat with them;
Error number 1: Stay out of your comfort zone. Expose yourself and your idea to a new audiences and listeners.
That day we had to do a 1 min pitch to introduce your idea to the jury and the rest of the groups. Hell of a task, a 1 min pitch is not an easy thing, you have 60 sec. to do a brief summary (In our case) of more than 4 month of hard work, tears, blood and sweat.
Advice number 1: If some day you are in that position, my recommendation is to present a 1 or 2 slides presentation, focus on; A) Problem you are solving (in 3 lines) B) Solution (3 lines and a reference, for example “Slidepick is Mailbox for your photos”) C) introduce the team.
Well, after waiting hours for our turn, in which the anxiety and nerves begins to freak you out (next time; Stay cool, be cool) it was our moment. In 60 seconds we show our idea, and the face of the jury was pure joy. There was no question asked, just compliments and flattery. I felt in heaven for the next 3 minutes, that was the end of the day, I returned home feeling victorious. The next day was a little more relaxed and calm. We had more time to talk with the other groups and entrepreneurs (Which we didn’t use as we should have, we stay with our friends and met a few more people) After that we had a “one on one” mentoring, in which our mentor resulted to be an Early Adopter of our product and he loved it. Our confidence was off the ground. The last part of the day was a “speed dating” (5 min) with each one of the judges. We presented our solution and we dedicated the whole time, with each one of them, to talk about it.
Error number 2: Don’t waste your time on that! Ask, ask and ask again for feedbacks and for weak spots that you might have. We lost the chance to get real insights about what we were doing, because we thought that showing off our product was more important.
At the end I felt that we didn’t get the feedback that I was expecting, but I thought that maybe it was because they really liked our startup. 3erd day was on, and was the first day of eliminations. This time we have to do a 2 min pitch, a piece of cake after all we had lived the last few days. We prepared the presentation the whole day, focused in which was important for this moment, the revenue model. I felt confident and ready to rock it on stage.
Advice number 2:
In a 2 minutes pitch…just SHOW THE MONEY! (and the market). Focus on this, investors wants to hear the sweet words of cash on their ears. The rest is just bluff and time you don’t have. Make it count!
We passed to next round, leaving only 30 startups competing for a place in the final. But I felt in my guts that something was not good, we needed to make some changes and start to ask the right questions…The problem was that the game was over for me. The next day all went to shit…I had to go to college to do two exams that I expected to skip, but there was no option (I will write about this soon, my daily struggle between go to college or go in search of my dreams). So the rest of my team got in charge of doing the pitch that day and work towards the final round. But all went to hell when in personal feedback, by one of the jury, he told us that we were not in the top 10 candidates to win the GeekCamp because they didn’t saw any potential in our revenue model. Something that has haunted us since the day we started this idea and there was again killing our possibilities. Icing on the cake was that even the jury didn’t know how we could solve this, so basically we were fucked up.
Error/Advice Number 3: When you have that “guts feeling” probably is because you are right. I didn’t listen to this feeling and I preferred to keep doing the work that we had done until that point. Wrong call, so next time your stomach starts fighting your rational mind, is a good option to listen what it have to say.
I think you probably knows how this story ended. The team fighting to, just in a few hours, reinvent a whole revenue plan and months of work. It was a disaster and the levels of desperation were out of control. Beside all that, I was stuck in college with my hands tied and nothing that I could do to avoid this. At the end we fail…We fail hard. But you know something, It was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. It taught us priceless things, things that not are only applicable to our startup, also things that help me to grow as a person. To be more humble, more attentive to details, listening more carefully and to always ask for feedbacks and comments. I take this experience as an incredible source of learning, that I hope it might help to a fellow entrepreneur out there.
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Bill Gates
I would love to catch up with you and know about your experience! @mati_honorato or at email@example.com
Any grammar, spelling or punctuation mistake, please let me know. So I can keep improving my english…my best to all of you!