Correction: A previous version of the article misstated the name of the Eristica presenter as Artem Dalevich. It was Nikita Akimov.
The pitch — an inevitable, and often nerve-racking, part of the startup experience.
Whether it’s an investor pitch, a competition or a Demo Day, it is the fastest way to deliver a company’s message to an audience that is willing to give the startup a chance.
Today, e27 attended the Singapore Demo Day of a mobile-focussed accelerator programme called MOX (Mobile Only Accelerator). This was the second batch for the programme.
MOX is run by William Bao Bean, the Managing Director of the early-stage VC firm SOSV and the head of Chinaccelerator.
e27 has already covered the companies in the batch so we thought it would be a good opportunity to break down our three favorite pitches and explain why they worked. For startups preparing for their pitching sessions, this could be a good opportunity to grab a tip or two.
One key takeaway: Videos are basically standard operating procedure for pitches these days. BUT the types of videos that work are silent, simple visualisations of the UX. The pitcher can speak over the video, but it helps visual learners understand how the product works without hijacking the entire pitch.
To be clear, this is not a critique of the companies, it’s based simply what they did with their few minutes on stage.
For people interested in reading more about the companies, they can do so here.
ELSA is an english-language pronunciation startup (the name stands for English Language Speech Assistant) that helps people minimise their accent.
The founder and CEO, Vu Van, who is Vietnamese and has lived in Europe in the US, loosened up the audience with a short personal anecdote. She told the story of a meeting in the US. Instead of saying ‘spreadsheet’ she said ‘spread shit’.
Van explained that she had been learning english from the age of five, was basically fluent, but pronunciation was the hardest hurdle to overcome.
The story clarified the pain point for the audience — which she then backed-up with a detailed explanation of the technology. She highlighted that ELSA can help users pronounce the ‘EEE’ sound, and it will give them real-time feedback (plus tips on how to improve).
The kicker was locking-down her advantage over the competition without pointing to market-share or personal self-confidence.
Van pointed out that speech recognition requires machine-learning, which equally requires time and users so the AI can learn and improve. Van argued that ELSA stood apart because it had 25 million sessions — which she did not pitch as a user base number, but rather as proof that ELSA’s AI technology is smarter than the competition.
It was a compelling argument.
LotaData is a company that transforms geolocation data into mobile ‘people intelligence’ to help companies understand a consumer base. It provides real-time information without revealing personal information.
What LotaData did well was paint a picture of their target audience, and used it to help the audience understand a fairly complicated technology.
The CEO, Apu Kumar, painted the picture of a 28-year-old Singaporean named Eva Wang. This person was a pet owner, lived a busy lifestyle and enjoyed mobile war games. She was also a fan of the 7-11 convenience stores.
Companies across the world are trying to figure out how to market to these hyper-specific personal preferences.
At this point, Kumar introduced his platform for creating actionable data to help companies market to these types of people. Instead of vague ideas of ‘people’, when Kumar introduced his product, the audience had a clear idea (Eva Wang) of how LotaData would work in the real world.
LotaData has a lot going on, so creating ‘Eva Wang’ was crucial to ensuring the pitch did not get bogged down in confusing details.
If your company has a dynamic, personable person who is comfortable with public speaking, it is probably a good idea to put that person on stage.
Eristica is a ‘challenge’ video streaming company that let’s users give and accept challenges for people to perform on video (“I dare you to eat an Oreo filled with toothpaste” was the example presenter Nikita Akimov used).
Akimov then focussed the pitch on Eristica being the non-American alternative to viral challenge videos. It was smart; Eristica doesn’t want to compete with their US alternatives, rather they want to be the place where Southeast Asians watch other people in Southeast Asia perform these challenges.
It localised the app and received a positive reception from the audience.
Also Read: migme partners with MOX; looks to raise US$7.5M and resume trading on 4 Aug
It should be noted that Eristica is Russian company — but the point of the pitch was to explain that the company was raising money to expand into Southeast Asia. It focussed on its goal of localising in this part of the world, showing that it can adapt its product to its audience.
In the end though, what Eristica did well was pinpoint a charismatic person and allow him to run the pitch.