Phoenix Business Journal: Pitching a startup well: What I learned while competing for the Unicorn Cup

Just-Published-PBJ-1We had a lot of fun while learning a lot during the first ever Perfect Pitch competition at PADT.  This is an event where startup mentors get up and pitch the same fictitious company. During that process, we learned a few things that are useful for anyone trying to fundraise for a startup or those who mentor companies.  “Pitching a startup well: What I learned while competing for the Unicorn Cup” highlights those lessons.

250+ Gather to Celebrate Arizona Engineering and Manufacturing at Nerdtoberfest

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Customers, friends, partners, and students braved 100 degree temperatures and some unusual traffic to gather at PADT’s Tempe office to celebrate engineering and manufacturing in Arizona at Nerdtoberfest.  Machinists, startup experts, engineers, and professors mingled under the stars and took a tour of the facilities while enjoying pizza and beer.

The day started with a seminar on Metal 3D Printing given by Dr. Dhruv Bhate.  If you missed it, you can watch his talk here:

We followed that with the first ever PADT Perfect Pitch competition, where four teams pitched the same fictitious company as an exercise in seeing if those who teach, can do.  That was such a big part of the day that it has it’s own blog post including a link to a video of all of the pitches.

And after the the laughing and congratulations to the winner of the Unicorn Cup, we started the open house.  A chance to tour PADT and network with other members of the Arizona Tech Community.

If you have ever read a post before about one of our open houses you know we have a consistent problem. Once the party starts we stop taking pictures. The only one I got was of Dhruv showing off our new Laser Concepts Metal 3D Printer.

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That room was definitely the star of the show and we calculated that Dhruv was talking from 3:00 to 8:30 – five and a half hours non-stop.  He earned his pizza and beer.

The table from Basis Chandler was also popular, where they talked about their 3D Printed prosthetic hand project.  We also had representatives from the SciTech Festival and RevAZ talking to visitors.  The 3D Printing demo room was great and many people stopped to hear about how we are combining 3D Printing and ANSYS Simulation.

We always enjoy these events, they give us a chance to socialize with people we see all the time in work situations.  It is also a great opportunity for us to introduce people that would probably otherwise not meet, and grow the strength of the Arizona engineering and manufacturing ecosystem.

First Perfect Pitch Startup Presentation Competition a Success – CEI Takes Home the Unicorn Cup

perfect-pitch-16-all-2The verdict is in, if the company barq! actually existed they would have raised a lot of seed money yesterday.  Members of the Phoenix area startup community gathered at PADT to try out a new idea: what if the experts who mentor and coach startups tried their hands at pitching a company?  The result was fun, funny, and educational.

title-slides-perfect-pitch-2017Local incubators/accelerators CEI, Seed Spot, and Tallwave joined PADT in pitching a totally made up company, barqk! to a group of judges who are startup experts.  We talked about poop, doggy depression, bessel functions, big data, valuations, and the cat revolt. In the end we ended up with four fantastic examples of how to pitch a company and how to answer questions from investors.  One of the best parts was that every single team finished their pitch in the 10 minutes they were given, and they covered everything that needed to be covered. Yes, it can be done!

And the winner is… The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI).  Tom Schumann and Patti DuBois told a story, explained the product, and got across the value to the investors of the product

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You can watch the recording of the presentations in the video below.  Take some time to watch the pitches and get a feel for barqk!, and how different organizations approach telling the story and more importantly, attracting investors.  The audience noticed that each team had a unique take that represented their strengths.

Our judges were Jim Goulka from Arizona Technology Investors, Christie Kerner from ASU, Carine Dieude of Altima Business Solutions, and Linda Capcara with TechTHiNQ, and they did a fantastic job, especially with keeping a straight face when the contestants responded with some very inventive responses. Their contribution was important.

If you are interested in doing a similar event, here is some background information:

barqk-logo-200-1Rules:

  • Each team gets a copy of the angel group funding application and a logo.
  • Each team gets 10 minutes to pitch
  • The judges have up to 5 minutes to ask questions
  • The other presenters can listen in
  • PowerPoint slides are allowed
  • Some variation from the company application is allowed for humor or to fill gaps, but everyone should stick to the same basic material

Here is their angel funding application, everything you need to know about them is in there: barqk-angel-application-1.pdf

We look forward to doing this again, hopefully as part of a larger startup event. Thank you to all who participated by pitching, judging, or being in the audience.

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Who will win the Unicorn Cup next?

Nerdtoberfest: Perfect Pitch Startup Competition and the Fight for The Unicorn Cup Heat Up

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William and Mahatma guard The Unicorn Cup before the competition.

The teams are set, the judges have confirmed.  Details on the fake company has been shared. It is time to see how the professionals pitch a tech startup. The area’s best startup incubators and accelerators are facing off in this head to head competition to take home the awesome Unicorn Cup and bragging rights.

The teams are:

Thomas Schumann and Patti DuBois from CEI
Nate Mortenson from Tallwave
Wiley Larson from ASU
Lauren McDannel and John Johnson from Seed Spot

Our distinguished panel of judges consists of

Rebel Brown of Cognoscenti
Carine Dieudé of Altima Business Solutions
Jim Goulka of ATI
Christie Kerner of ASU
David McCaleb of ATI

Perfect Pitch is a contest where teams present the same fictitious technology startup company.  A group of expert judges will determine who gave the best pitch. The event is part of PADT’s Nerdtoberfest celebration of engineering and manufacturing in Arizona, and takes place from 4:30-6:00 on Thursday, October 27th at our Tempe offices.

Everyone is invited! We will have an overflow area set up if we get more than can fit in our seminar room where you can watch live.  We will also be streaming the event live to the world (watch this blog and social media for the link).

barqk-logo-200-1If seeing the best of the best pitch is not enough, here is some info about our fictitious Company: barqk!

At barqk!,  we deploy the latest cloud based machine learning and big data algorithms to convert your dog’s barking into words on your mobile device so that you can understand your pet’s needs, if they are sick, and be made aware of danger.

Dog owners face significant problems communicating with their pets. Although you can train a dog to obey commands, the dog cannot tell it’s owners what it needs or wants. This leads to significant stress for the owner and may lead to death when the animal cannot communicate an obvious and present danger.

Barqk! has created a cloud connected wearable device for dogs that records their barking and uses machine learning and big data algorithms to convert dog-speak into human-speak. The translated words are sent via text or through our app to the owner’s phone. Initially the owners provide feedback to the network, and the responses of all owners to every dog’s bark are collected as big data then fed through our proprietary algorithms that use Bessel functions and advanced machine learning approximations to develop a consensus on what a given bark means. Over time a translation for each dog will be developed and we expect 87% accuracy.