I’ve been a fan of Tech Crunch for some time now and even more so since I’ve been watching HBO’s Silicon Valley (I so want to go to Disrupt!). This past Tuesday night I attended a NY Meetup and Pitch-off
at Les Poissons Rouge (The old Village Gate) in downtown Manhattan. I’ve never attended one before and it was a very interesting evening but for reasons different than I anticipated.
The event was a centered around 10 start-ups each having 60 seconds to pitch their concept. Moderator and Tech Crunch Senior Editor Jordan Crook deftly managed the proceedings which included 5 panelists who acted as judges. The description of the event 666from Tech Crunch:
“Judges included Greycroft’s Alan Patricof, Foursquare’s J Crowley, FirstMark’s Amish Jani, Quire’s Erin Glenn, and TC East Coast Editor John Biggs.
Each pitch concludes with a brief Q&A session and at the end of presentations, judges will determine a winner.
First place will receive a table in the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September. Second place gets two tickets to the conference and the Audience Choice winner will take home one ticket to the big show.”
The event was a sell-out – and then some. For a modest fee of $25 you were granted access to the event, (which went a little less than two hours though it was scheduled for one) including pizza and open bar which was cleverly unadvertised. It was so crowded that I had an eye on the closest exit in case of emergency. I probably would not have made it however.
What made it different than I anticipated was the warmth of the crowd, which was made up of young wanna-be entrepreneurs, frustrated millennials working in finance trying to find a way out, and real entrepreneurs who wanted to get the feel of pitching at an event such as this. As one of the few guys wearing a jacket, I stuck out more than I would have preferred. The warmth of the crowd was in stark contrast to what were almost entirely modestly interesting tech concepts almost all without any real revenue model.
About half the presenters were able to get through their base concept in the allotted 60 seconds and the other half were cut-off by Jordan Crook in mid-sentence. Follow-up questions from the panel generated more revealing information on the concept and the possible ways to advance that concept.
Having a founder present their concept is a tech specialty. There are no spokespeople as investors and people in general prefer to hear the idea from the creator. My first advice to potential technology company creators is to be more polished in the presentation of the concept (how could you run over when you KNEW the time was one minute? Ever hear of rehearsal?).
And there’s the whole pesky revenue model thing. The idea that if we build it correctly the people will come and then we can think about monetizing is – well, short-sighted at the least. Investors know that pre-revenue valuations are most often better than post-revenue. So not claiming any particular revenue model seems to be being worn as a badge of honor. Those days cannot end soon enough as far as I am concerned. It’s fine if there are several possible revenue models and the decision has not yet been made on which to put in the front. But there are not many Facebook’s and Google’s out there and Twitter and Amazon have huge audiences and are still looking to return a substantial profit on operations.
In order for a tech concept to have a chance at success the product has to have utility, scalability, and some ways to make money. If they do not possess all three why would any investor be interested?
I love the energy, intelligence and can-do attitude endemic to the start-up community. I also feel that it’s not only acceptable for founders to offer possible means of monetization around their idea, it’s critical. Do you agree?