In November, Lisa and I had the opportunity to pitch Blackout Technologies for the Microsoft ScaleUp program. The Microsoft ScaleUp program is designed for Startups like us. To the startups selected, Microsoft offers consulting, sales, marketing, and technical support. Having the opportunity to receive help with a company as big and prestigious as Microsoft, would give us the opportunity to grow our network and skillset significantly. This pitch was important to us given that, not only would Microsoft be involved, but they would also bring investors and people interested to hear us out! Keeping in mind that Blackout has not received any investments or expert help so far, it was our first pitch representing our StartUp. This was a good opportunity for us to give our idea to experts and hear what they had to say, respectively get feedback on how and what to pitch!
At first, we were not sure what we needed to include in our pitch deck and what was important to say. Because we only had 10 minutes to pitch, we were having problems deciding what the most important part of our company was and how to present it in an easy to understand and entertaining way. But after doing some research and preparation, we were confident that our pitch would call some investors’ attention.
Our pitch day was set in Berlin, so Lisa and I travelled from Bremen early in the morning and did our last minute arrangements and preparations on the way. Once in Berlin, we went straight to our meeting location and waited patiently for our turn. I felt nervous at first, mainly because I had no idea what pitching would be like, and how the team of the ScaleUp and also invited guests were going to react to our amazing startup. Thankfully, Lisa had more experience on this matter, and was calm and ready to do it! Once we finished setting up the things we needed for the presentation, it was time to begin.
I have to admit, the 10 minutes of the pitch went by really fast. Although we had agreed on what topics we were going to talk about, it still felt like we could have added 2 hours more of information about us, and it wouldn’t have been enough. Regardless of what I thought, the audience seemed quite satisfied with the presentation.
After the pitch, we had 35 minutes to answer people’s questions. At first, only 2 people had small questions that were easy to answer; but after some time passed, more questions emerged. Fortunately, Lisa managed to answer all the questions and discuss new ideas and plans for the future. After a nice presentation and Q&A time slot, our pitch hour was over.
Overall, I think the pitch went well. The audience was satisfied with our explanations as well as with the answers we provided. They gave us a few recommendations that we will definitely keep in mind for the next pitch deck. We are confident that we will get better every time, learn from our errors and grow in confidence and experience. We are grateful for the experience that Microsofts ScaleUp-team provided, and we are eagerly waiting for their reply and more feedback in the upcoming weeks.
After we returned to Bremen Lisa asked if her contact to the ScaleUp Team (Philipp) was able to give her a bit more in-depth feedback on how we presented ourselves. Since we believe this feedback is in General useful to any startup that prepares for their first pitch, here goes:
- Try to make very clear what your core business is. With us it was quite difficult for our audience to understand from the get-go what we’re doing. E.g. our btNexus and nexusUi can do a lot of cool things, but make the USP very clear in the first couple minutes. This way it’s easier for the audience to follow-up on the other informations you provide.
- Pick your demo carefully. We prepared a demo of our btNexus and nexusUi, since this is our scaleable solution. But it wasn’t the most entertaining one.. Surprisingly (or not?) a more hands-on demo like a conversation with one of our robots would have been more captivating.
- Where I was quite excited, Lisa was trying to be very calm during the pitch. This seems very obvious, but don’t try to overcompensate. It’s normal to be excited about what you do. Show your passion and enthusiasm for what you do.
- Make very clear how you earn money. For anybody who thinks about getting involved in your company it’s the most interesting to make sure that if they put even 1€ into you, they get at least 1€ and a bit extra out of the deal.
- When you are thinking about showcasing some market size and market growth calculations, keep in mind that a market below 1 billion US$ and a significant CAGR isn’t really interesting to any kind of investor (especially VCs).
That we’re our 5 most important Lessons-learned and general feedback to our pitch. We hope it might help you out at some point.
We will keep you updated as soon as we know more about if we are joining the next batch of the Microsoft ScaleUp Program!