I had the privilege of being one of the judges for the #tcbattle (TechCrunch Europe Summer Pitch Battle) at the new @techhub last night and really enjoyed the opportunity. What I valued most was how densely packed and good value the event proved to be. When and however else could I get exposure to more than 40 different startup pitches within a span of 2 hours? For me that’s a very efficient use of time no matter what the outcome.
Fortunately, I was also genuinely impressed at the calibre of cold-pitches (turn up and just pitch cold without slides in 1 minute or less). The group last night was comprised of confident, ambitious and keen entrepreneurs; such a great vibe.
All of this is of course a testament to @techhub, which was established expressly for these types of events and in order to bring various consituents of the tech community together. It’s something we also strive to do (albeit on a smaller scale) here at White Bear Yard, but I really commend @evarley and the @techhub sponsors for pulling it off with flying colours; job well done!
@TCEurope had promoted the event for a few weeks, and from my point of view the format was very successful. Everyone who had purchased a ticket and showed up had the opportunity to submit a 1-2 line description of their startup (or project idea) that they wanted to pitch. All of these were vetted very quickly by the 5 judges to come up with 30 who would each pitch for 1 minute at a time.
Following those 1 minute pitches and another conference between judges, 7 were nominated (along with another 3 who were part of a previous UKTI pitching clinic) to pitch for a further 3 minutes each and then 3 final winners selected.
Perhaps one reason I was so impressed with the format is because I was initially skeptical. I didn’t think we’d be able to hear more than 10 or so pitches, I figured people would run long/over their time, and I thought we just wouldn’t be able to maintain a good pace. However, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed that most people kept their pitches to the 1 minute (thanks to great time-keeping by @mikebutcher) — or even less in some cases, which helped to compensate for the time lost between pitches during handovers.
Since the list of pitches/people was only deciuded just before the start of the event, it wasn’t possible to have a prepared list or agenda/order regarding who was up next, but that definitely would have been helpful. Perhaps in future (as ws done for the 3 minute pitches), Mike can project the full list of presenters (or next 5) on screen so that people know when they’re next and can queue up. Another alternative would be to use twitter (since wifi was obviously in good order and quite a fair number of attendees were tweeting and making notes using the #tcbattle hashtag anyway).
The other benefit of this would be that audience members could actually see the company/project name spelled out along with a URL or twitter handle or other identifying information. I know that along with other judges and attendees that there were more than a few occasions when we weren’t exactly sure what the company name was.
Apart from that, I overheard some attendees saying afterwards that it was quite difficult to hear the pitches from the back of the room and that the lack of aircon was definitely a force, but from where we were sat as judges (lucky us!) everything was fine.
While the judges initially selected 30 teams to present 1 minute pitches, because things seemed to be going so well, we were all in agremeent (along with Mike and the rest of the audience) that it made sense to let the other 10 or so “applicants” do a 1 liner/sentence “intro” (shy of a pitch in that amount of time) as well. So in total, there were 30 1 minute pitches, 12 additional 1 sentence introductions and then 9 more 3 minute pitches. Here’s my recap with full apologies for any incorrect company names that I might have misheard/understood [note suggestion above] as well as apologies if I misunderstood the actual proposition, offering or description. Note: If anyone wants to comment or contact me with corrections/edits or URLs/twitter IDs where missing I’d be more than happy to update the following —
- Hullomail: instant voice messaging
- DADapp: organizing, finding and reusing digital media
- Pzyche: real-time visitor intelligence for online gaming
- Calaboard (@calameda)* = 1st place winner; augmented reality video conferencing
- Crowdscanner*: event ice-breaker/iPhone app
- TRData: Bloomberg for emerging markets
- Duedil (@Duedil_app)* = 2nd place winner; people reputation system
- AdAvengers (@adavengers): making display-ads simpler
- MyArt: creativity marketplace (for collaboration and sharing)
- YourNextRead: book recommendation discovery and sharing
- MindQuilt*: enterprise knowledgement management platform
- Me-stars*: social casual games for mobile
- Whaddado: social bookmarking platform for events, gigs, happenings
- Logentries: collect, visualize and store log data
- Privilink: message and connect with people as easily as PayPal for payments
- OneLeep (@oneleep)*: pay to contact anyone (who sets a price on contacting them with %age going to charity)
- Nsyght: social search
- Eclectica: white label bookstore platform
- TheNudge: location based service for recommendatiobs
- Geomium (@geomium)* = 3rd place winner; mobile location based “what’s going on around you”
- Pridesnapz (@PrideSnapz): mobile penny auctions and group buying
- Future Content Lab: last.fm for content, matching content with transactions/commerce
- Getyoo (@Getyoo): device for exchanging digital information, leaflets, PDFs, files
- Mojo: mobile airline live pricing database
- Fubles: eBay for matching players, pitches, games
- FaceValue: social commerce (buy and sell via social networks)
- OnePage (@myonepage): business cards in the cloud
- Subsify (@subsify): easy online payments (for SME/startups)
- Qhub: Q&A website platform for whitelabel
- Psonar: music in the cloud
- [ ]: graffiti for events
- Homemaker: Basecamp for families
- Dress2Press: drag and drop ecommerce items (fashion/clothes) onto photos
- [ ]: open source trust maps
- Hipsnip (@hipsnip): connecting real and online worlds
- Timeline-X.com: records history of site visitors
- OxygenOnline: content production company
- E-Export: manage logistics of import/export in/out of Brazil
- 28msec: XQuery in the cloud
- MoneyDashboard: Mint.com for UK
- SIPcast.me: converts SIP phone calls to webcasts
- HRLocker: HR software
- GourmetOrigins*: foodies and location/destinations
- Prospectvision*: sales and lead gen via behavioural analysis
* Companies who were selected to give 3 minute pitches
Again from my point of view — interested in meeting and hearing about very early stage teams, ideas, projects and companies — the event was ideal and well-executed. I don’t have access to the registration or attendee list, but my own quick scans showed that it was a fantastic turnout of entrepeneurs *and* investors or corporate representatives — which is ideal for everyone involved. Mike tweeted this morning that there were over 200 attendees, and I personally saw representatives from Google Corporate Development, Pearson, Peacock Fund, Advent Venture Partners, Balderton Capital, Dawn Capital, Eden Ventures (which was a sponsor), m8 capital (another sponsor), Neuhaus Partners, PROFounders Fund, and of course @robertdighero and myself from @whitebearyard.
What a great turnout and event all around. I hope to have the chance to participate in future ones. You may ask if there were any pitches that I would deem as “investable”, and to be fair, 1 or even 3 minutes is not enough on which to base that decision. However, for whatever it’s worth, I had made notes of at least 11-12 different teams that I’d like to learn more about — whether for existing investee companies/projects and collaboration or for potentially working more closely with. That’s effectively 25% of teams seen, so clearly a great sign.