The first-ever Startup Launchpad competition was held today at Mindtrek conference in Tampere, Finland. There were eight Finnish startups pitching their idea to a group of experienced jury.
The jury was headed by Sharon C. Ballard, the founding President/CEO of Enable Ventures Inc. Other members were Marc Davis, Social Media Guru and Chief Scientist, Yahoo!; Tapio Siik, Partner, Nokia Growth Partners; Pekka Pärnänen, Head of Finpro, Silicon Valley, and Henri Rantalainen, CEO, Business Development Advisor, Technopolis Ventures Professia.
The event, hosted by ArcticStartup's Ville Vesterinen, started with Zipipop introducing their Zipiko service, which is based on "intention sharing", enabling people to see their friends' activity plans, join them even for ad hoc events, and for sharing your own plans with your friends anywhere.
Mahshelf was next, who positioned themselves as the Youtube for comics, enabling both user generated and professional content distributed online at the best price.
Starwreck introduced a collaborative film creation platform to enable leveraging community for more cost efficient production and marketing of new films around the world.
Onedidit pitched a platform for community of eco-minded people, offering unique tools for measuring ecological living and tips to improve everyday eco-friendliness.
Hammerkit presented online visual programming tools letting designers build anything online from components in minutes without nearly any programming.
Floobs pitched their solution for producing, managing, and distributing mobile individual live TV channels, targeting the long tail of non-tv broadcasted sports.
Tripsay presented their solution for the challenge of finding personalized traveling recommendations among the loads of unorganized opinions on the web.
Runtoshop concluded with their online service for sharing opinions and finding personal recommendations on any products and services, to find the best one and getting easiest possible way of purchasing it.
Pekka Pärnänen started the award ceremony by mentioning that while he knows some of the companies and that they are doing a good job, the presentations were not excellent in general. Pekka stated if you can't explain your business to a stranger in six minutes, you can't do it in 15 or more either, you have to be concise. Don't assume that the investors know anything about what you do. Be ready to answer questions also. If you don't know an answer to something, you have to explain why you don't know.
Tapio commented that having a business model based on ads is usually a sign that you haven't though of your business model. If you use the advertising card you have to be able to really go into the fine details when asked.
Marc missed hearing the elevator pitch, stressing it should be between 30s and 2 minutes. It's essential skill for your success, and practicing it in front of the mirror a hundred times and more. What's your startup about, why should I care, and what's in it for me. Honesty is also important - state clearly where you're at at the moment with your plans. You have to also know by heart why your competitors, other startups, or big companies cannot enter your market with a similar idea and flush you out.
Sharon wanted to hear these four points answered:
- Your story; sales, can you defend your revenue projections, do you have customers.
- The opportunity, what can she do tomorrow with your team and skills, that she can't do today. There has to be a big problem that can be fixed by you and you alone.
- Management team is important, be ready to tell about how it fits together.
- Finally, the ability to express your idea verbally - can you be convincing? People only invest in people they trust.
In the end, the jury faced a difficult decision, and went on to give out the third place three times. The third place was thus shared by Mahself, Onedidit, and Hammerkit, who will take a draw for the prizes. Congrats to the winners and all participants, who no doubt all learned a great deal and got new ideas!