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    Jan 2007
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    Default Pitchfest review

    Went to a pitchfest last night, here's an overview on the companies and a rough summary on feedback. Overall this event was middle of the pack in terms of quality of presenters/presentations.

    I'm leaving names out for the sake of privacy. If interested PM me and I'd be happy to forward.

    11 companies pitched at this event. The first 6 were 2 minute 'elevator speech' type pitches, while the last 5 were 3 minute presentations. All 11 had a VC panel; after presenting, there would be a 4 or 5 minute question session followed by a similar feedback period. Q & A was 2 way while feedback is 1 way.

    1) Mobile app based large scale public venue/event back office management

    Essentially this company has built an app which allows a central source to communicate/control the widely spread aspects of a football game or other large sporting event.

    This presenter led off with some very nice names - i.e. existing traction for their product. However, what the product was, was extremely unclear. Many of the questions were associated with what exactly the product was.

    Other questions and feedback: the business side was completely left out. No presentation how big the market was/how many customers, what competition might be, and so forth.

    2) 3rd generation Internet software support

    Another example of a very unclear product. Essentially what this company does is enable better control/diagnosis/support of Cloud based internet services. If 1st generation is direct hardware/software ownership and design thus first hand monitoring, 2nd generation is using pre-made portions of hardware/software from Oracle and so forth plus cloud but without the ability to access the pre-made portions, then this company's solution is building command and control directly into the cloud bits of a company's product.

    Very nice traction - existing revenue. Essentially a consulting group going corporate.

    Feedback however focused on the failure to address the competitive space: obviously if the problem is large, there are going to be lots of people looking to solve it. What exactly is this company's 'magic'? And if so, how is it protected?

    3) A hardware product which detects the act of graffiti making

    Interesting product, technology not particularly proprietary but still pretty cool.

    The presenter did not go over the potential market, the economics, or the ability to protect the product until Q & A. Also there was a significant tactical error in talking about supplying the municipal police - several police departments are enthusiastic early supporters, but the sales cycle for cities is brutal especially in these times. Later on there was some mention of sales to the public.

    4) Essentially a Netflix, but for children's e-books

    Quite a respectable presentation - covered economics, what product is, what the benefits are for users. Saw this company at a different event already 2 weeks previously, probably a factor in the more polished presentation.

    Feedback from panel: A major concern was the longer term viability of this product, specifically that if the business model is proven, that there are so many large players already in the e-book space that this company would be 'dancing with elephants'. There was also a comment where the company might consider trying to tap into the self-publishing market.

    5) Online swapping of stuff

    Good presentation in terms of what product is. Very poor coverage of competition - especially in online goods transactions which is a brutally competitive area even excluding Craigslist. A duet presentation which came off well - not something you normally should try.

    Feedback was essentially that this company really needs to show differentiation to have any chance of success - either better interface and/or better content. 200 existing customers is not even close to credible.

    6) Virtual reality/augmented reality via camera recognition app

    This company has an app which accesses the physical environment via an iPad or smartphone camera and brings up VR/AR as a result. Very nice demo where beer packaging brings up an ad, a coaster in a bar brings up a 3D interactive soccer game, etc.

    Good name bandying for traction, good explanation of what the product does. Smart ignoring of 'no demo rule' to make a quick and reasonably effective demo. Another company I saw previously at the 2 week ago event. High power team.

    Feedback from panel: how will they make money? What makes this company different than the many other (including failed) AR/VR startups? What do they have which is proprietary?

    7) Niche play focusing on the group travel portion of the online bookings market. Essentially offering an app which helps physically separated groups of people come more quickly to consensus on group travel.

    High powered team. Very good analysis of the market and market opportunity. Excellent explanation of how this company will attach and address the niche identified.

    Feedback: not clear what the company's advantage is for this niche, though niche was well understood. A poor response to a panelist's question on niche size (business vs. leisure).

    8) Online viewing of concerts at popular venues

    Essentially allowing a viewer at home to see a live concert. Very good explanation of product. An overly long and unnecessary video which was not even a demo. IP rights issues defused reasonably well in the presentation. Good traction examples.

    Feedback: the company is focused on smaller venues - not the ones which Live Nation and so forth cover. This should have been spoken to in the presentation. Good subject matter knowledge on the IP and the niche being addressed. Presentation decent but speech vs. screen was dissimilar and this was bad for the panelists.

    9) Hardware/software enhancement to improve breast cancer detection in a large segment of the female population

    Excellent description of the product, the market being addressed, and the economics. Poor coverage on marketing - selling to doctors and hospitals is a challenge. Presentation itself was badly made - the text on slides was popup on prompt; coupled with the 3 minutes this made it impossible to both read and hear for many people including the panelists.

    10) A company which apparently has proprietary technology to extract higher value products from organic waste

    Very poor presentation: turns out the presenter was a banker talking about chemical engineering. So the result was a mish-mash of biz-school terms with chem-e terms resulting in incomprehensibility to almost everyone. As an example: one slide actually was centered around an ecosystem whose core was an SPE - special purpose entity. You know, like the ones used by the TBTF banks to jack up their official equity percentages?

    Feedback: A fake picture was detected by panelist, not good. Another panelist noted that if the company had proprietary technology, but that there was such a huge capital requirement, why not just license the technology? Poor answer/response to this question. Questions on viability and scalability of business.

    11) Another exchange site, centered on moms, for baby related items.

    Clearly a first time presenter who was scared out of her wits. Did a pretty decent job on explaining the product, the target market, and the need being addressed. A much poorer coverage on the economic side of the company - a 3 year projection was slapped up without any explanation.

    Feedback: many questions on whether VC/angel funding was necessary if the objective was smaller - specifically that most of the funding requested was for staffing. Also questions on just how attractive buying used 1 year and below baby clothing is. Elicited a positive response when presenter responded to an ownership question with: I'm flexible.
    Last edited by c1ue; 05-22-12 at 01:42 PM.

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