Why the hell would you even do that?
By now, for those who have been following me, you should know that I don’t like doing things like anybody else.
So it comes to the launch of OneRagtime. We were looking at organizing something nobody has done in the venture capital industry, and with a strong appeal to millennials entrepreneurs.
It didn’t even finish a tour of my brain I knew it, the Snapchat Pitch it will be.
But why would you even want to use Snapchat to organize a pitch competition? After all, messages sent on Snapchat are meant to disappear, but so are the words you speak…
Snapchat allows you to send real moments captured in the instant, it’s true, even if you add a dog filter to your face.
And that’s exactly what you want to see from a pitch. When a startup pitches on stage, it’s live, it’s real. What you need to do as a startup when you pitch an investor is to spark his interest. If you can do that, he will ask you his question to get a better understanding of your projects. But this is true in any kind of situation. Whenever in life you want to tell people about something to do, because you need them to help you, or because you want to sell them something, start with a good story to spark their interest. People are always busy with their life and will only give you some of their time if they can have an interest in it.
As a startup, it will be the exact same with your customers (mainly in B2C) won’t give you more than a few seconds to convince them to buy your product. So if you can’t convince me (a quite tech savvy and open minded guy) in 30 seconds chances are you won’t convince them either.
Plus for those who are still in doubt about a pitch competition, I would just say why not. It’s at least worth a try.
And you know what, the competition went great! Everybody loved it, the entrepreneurs (even those who never used Snapchat before), the team (kind of an obvious one), our investors, and people in general. Literally, everyone I spoke to during the trip was super interested in the competition because of this new format. Plus I would say people loved it too when they watched it. You will have to take my words for it, but our number of views during the competition just kept increasing. So take that, haters…
Anatomy of the Snapchat Pitch
The competition happened in 2 rounds.
For the first round, startups pitched us directly on our personal accounts, so everyone in the team could judge who will be sent to stage 2. I asked them to send us 3 snaps. For those of you who aren’t Snapchat users, it represents 30 seconds.
The second round was the most interesting one definitely. For it, I organized a series of takeovers of the OneRagtime account.
A takeover = you give access to someone else to your account so they can post directly on your story for your followers to see it.
Startups were given the opportunity to post 12 snaps to our story, equaling to a 2 minutes pitch.
This was the tough part to manage. This stage was an event spread on 2 days. We had 17 startups engaged (down to 100+ from the first stage) all across Europe, and even some in America. Each was given a 30 minutes timeframe during which they were granted the access to our account to do their 2 minutes pitch. Managing startups back and forth of the account, plus saving their pitch so we can send it to them afterward was something, but we did it.
What did I learn organizing the most innovative pitch competition ever?
First, and I guess this one is true for any kind of pitch competition, it’s hard to find good startups to participate. Good startups are hyper mega busy, and doing a good pitch requires a lot of efforts and preparation. They need good reasons to participate, almost when you asked them to pitch on a platform they aren’t familiar with.
The benefits they will get from the pitch competition can be really diverse. And to interest startups in joining your competition you must tailor them to the startups you want to participate. This one sounds obvious, but it’s not that easy to find what kind of benefits will generate the most interest.
The first benefit that comes to mind is obviously a prize money, though this is difficult to gauge how much is enough to interest them and how much you are willing to give away for free. It can be participation in a funding round, though you won’t be able to set the conditions before the competition is over thus it’s a tough one to market, and can give you some troubles or at least a good headache.
Then from free services and goodies to exposure, the types of benefits you give to the winners can be anything. It’s whatever will enable you to attract the kind of startups you are targeting.
Because of the inner structure of Snapchat (10 seconds video max), you have to structure your thoughts. I found it was an amazing exercise to do. It really helps you to prioritize your message and deliver it in an easy, yet straightforward way. It makes it much easier for your audience to understand it, and so it gives you a better shot to spark their interest. You would think it doesn’t give you the opportunity to tell everything, but a) it’s not true, and b) it’s not what a pitch is for. A good pitch will give enough to the investor so he can ask you the right questions about your product/company.
Though, at least at first, it makes pitching even more difficult. So there’s no way around, you need to train over and over again.
People remember stories (pun intended), not facts. So you have to tell them a story about your startup. It’s difficult, and even more with the constraint of a Snapchat. So you have no other choice, to tell a great story (on Snapchat, but actually, in general), you have to be bold and innovative. Everyone prefers the original movies to the remakes anyway, so do the same. Work on your story, learn how to tell it concisely and be bold, be f*cking bold. You want to blow people mind so bad they are fucked up for a week!
Overall Snapchat is an amazing tool to interact with your audience. It’s new, it’s fresh, and in our case, it’s right in the audience we want to be the closest with, aka millennial entrepreneurs.
This is just one of the way you can use Snapchat for. And as the platform grows there will be more things you can do with.
Just play with it, try new stuff, and you will see what came out of it.
Have you seen the new Spectacles? I want them so badly; imagine all the cool new things you could do with them! If someone wants to ship a pair to Europe for me, I’d be grateful for life…
Organizing this pitch was amazing, the startups that participated were all amazing, and our winners are beyond awesome. It was the first one, and definitely not the last. I will be back soon with OneRagtime for new competitions, and I have other new cool stuff in my pipe. 😉