If you think that you have a great startup idea, then one of the best ways to go forward is to actually tell people about it or better yet - pitch it to a professional and get some valuable feedback.
Often this requires going to events or hunting for experts, which can be a hassle. So to make life easier, ArcticStartup together with The Founder Institute, is organizing an online ArcticStartup Founder Hotseat Webinar next Wednesday night, October 16th at 07:15PM EEST, which will take place on this very page.
Startup pitching events have become sort-of a cliche, they are all alike and there really needs to be an improvement to the whole process. Investors want to get a better understanding if the startup would be a good fit for them, the audience is interested to know if people are actually going to use it and the founders want to get quality feedback from the audience, the judges (if any) and investors.
This seems like a very straightforward problem and for the most part it is solved by de facto. However as we have seen with Catchbox, small additions to events can make them a lot more exciting.
So when we heard about the Estonian based Funderbeam, it caught our eye. Their current plan is to provide an app for pitch-feedback that collects votes & ratings from the audience, generates leader boards and statistics. However they plan to do a lot more with it.
Whatever you had planned for next week, cancel it. Unless your plan was to go to Latitude59, a startup conference in Estonia that is picking up speed every year. With themed days, it was a blast last time around and attracted great speakers from all over the globe.
This year, the team behind the event tried to make it even more impressive and gathered a great selection of speakers. Perhaps even more interestingly, there are surprisingly many investors who signed-up to speak and attend the event.
As announced earlier, we're organizing an Elevator Pitch Competition for all startups and growth companies in the Baltic and Nordic countries on June 3rd in Tallinn. The applications are due tonight May 12th at 8:00 PM EET.
We'll have a pan-Nordic/Baltic VC jury, so this is a perfect opportunity to put yourself on the radar and get valuable feedback on your pitch from an experienced jury. We also have great prizes for the winners, and of course coverage on ArcticStartup.
For the third time, we are organizing an Elevator Pitch Competition for all startups and growth companies in the Baltic and Nordic countries. The competition will be held in Tallinn on June 3rd at the International Technology Law Association's IV Tallinn Conference.
Whether or not you're interested in applying to the pitch competition, check out the conference agenda (pdf) which features this year a keynote address by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, and topics like marketing and branding, early stage financing, and landing the first customers. The conference is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is needed.
The Nordic Tech Tour, organized by the independent not-for-profit organization The European Tech Tour has kicked off today. During two and a half days, the selected 30 promising early and later stage growth companies based in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and the Baltic countries will gather together with the leading cross-border venture capital and global corporate firms.
During the event, the companies have twenty minutes to present their business plans to 70 international delegates, consisting of senior partners, VPs, and CEOs from the global venture capital and technology industry, as well as advisors and academics. The investment capital present at the Tour is said to be worth over €10 billion.
We've set the date and are on the final stretches of the preparations for the second ArcticEvening this year, to be held in Tallinn on the 1st of June. I don't want to give away too much at this point on the program itself as we're still finalising it. However, I do want to announce a small part of the program now so startups can prepare for it and consider it if they'd want to participate.
This is a reminder that the applications for the Elevator Pitch Competition on June 1st need to be sent in at the latest by May 6th 8:00 PM EET to events (at) arcticstartup.com.
All Baltic and Nordic startups and growth companies are welcome to apply. The applications to the Pitch Competition must be made using this form.
The Elevator Pitch Competition is organized as part of the Third Annual Tallinn Conference by The International Technology Law Association and Enterprise Estonia. The conference will be held at the Swissotel Tallinn during May 31-June 1, and the Elevator Pitch Competition will take place in the afternoon of June 1, 2010.
The conference theme this year is Preparing The Technology Company For Breakout: Challenges and Tools for the Nordic Region. Last year the conference drew in VCs, entrepreneurs and business owners, and naturally business lawyers (of the good type...) from all over the Nordic and Baltic countries, and also many guests from the USA.
To top it off, ArcticStartup will also organize ArcticEvening Tallinn in the evening of June 1st, to wrap up the conference and the pitch competition, and to create a networking forum for the international bunch in the city. Mark it in your calendar and stay tuned for more info!
Photo by cpalmieri (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
On Monday night Squace hosted the first of a new generation of Mobile Monday events in Stockholm. The evening featured pitches by 6 young companies in the mobile space, followed by commentary from an expert panel of tech. journalists, investors, and senior members of the tech. community. After the presentation, attendees were asked to vote on the most interesting company, with the winner getting a nomination for the Mobile Peer Award at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This nomination carries some weight, since last years nomination, PopCatcher, went on to win the special jury award.
The following is a quick rundown of the companies that presented last night, and who will be representing Stockholm in Barcelona next month.
At the end of the month just after midsummer, ArcticStartup will be organising an ArcticEvening in Copenhagen, Denmark. The date is set so that it is in the eve of the awesome reboot conference.
We have previously lined up a panel for our events, but since there is so much untapped startup potential in Copenhagen, we decided to set aside the whole evening for startup pitches and those who want to come and meet the startups. So if you're a startup and would like to receive Nordic wide coverage for your startup - apply for a slot in the evening. Have a look at the guidelines for applying below. Similarly, we'd love to see you if your interested in seeing and meeting a great line up of Nordic startups.
If you haven't been to ArcticEvenings before, we suggest you take a look at this video. The events are laid back and we've received a lot of compliments from organising these in other Nordic cities and now it's time for Copenhagen.
The venue for the event is the La Oficina located at Suomisvej 4. The event will begin at 6.30pm.
How do I sign up?
Tickets can be reserved below or directly from Amiando for free as long as they last. Without exceptions, in the past the tickets have ran out extremely fast, so make sure you are here to get your ticket. Make sure you'll show up at the venue if you reserve a ticket, or you'll end up on our black list which means there's no coming to our events in the future. We are able to host the event free of charge for participants due to our wonderful sponsors. Our sponsors are presented below.
In Copenhagen we have reserved the floor purely for startup pitches. If you would like to come and present your company - drop us an e-mail at info (at) arcticstartup.com and with a few sentences explain what you are doing, in what stage your company is at and why you should be chosen to present at the event. The occasion will be very informal so you don't need a slide deck nor a demo. We'd just like to hear you tell about your startup to the audience and meet the other entrepreneurs. Unfortunately we can't guarantee everyone a time slot to present (even though we do our best to fit everyone in), so we will make sure those with the best effort get a chance. Deadline for applications is 18th of June.
We will let you know by 20th June.
Our event is made possible by our Sponsors. Do take time to get to know them - they are one of the most interesting organisations in the industry. We hand pick our sponsors to bring value to the evenings - these guys are truly worth your time.
Sombiz is a Social Media Business Network of Finnish social media & Web 2.0 companies, research institutions, and other organisations and individuals operating in the field of social media.
Sombiz provides a network for organisations to collaborate, learn from each other, and create partnerships. By connecting business with research Sombiz is stimulating the creation of new innovations. The ultimate goal for Sombiz is to find new business opportunities and help companies to grow and go international.
Sombiz operates as a thematic network of the Finnish Digibusiness Cluster and is a part of the government funded Centre of Expertise Programme (OSKE). In 2008 the building of the Sombiz network was selected as the national “OSKE Top Project”. The project is funded by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
The background organisation of Sombiz is Technology Centre Hermia Ltd.
Sombiz is a Finnish-based network operating internationally. The strategy of Sombiz is a “BUGC” approach: linking Business, Universities, Government, and Communities in order to build and boost the social media business ecosystem.
Hammarström Puhakka Partners
Hammarström Puhakka Partners, Attorneys Ltd is a law firm specialised in business law. The firm has a good corporate practice with experienced M&A advisers acting constantly for domestic and cross-border clients. Specialists provide M&A services to public and private companies relating to assignments concerning private equity and venture capital transactions. The firm is constantly involved with complex transactions in connection with private equity firms and experienced in advising private equity/venture capital investors in divesting their investments.
Thomas Madsen-Mygdal and Nikolaj Nyholm
Thomas and Nikolaj are among other things angel investors and very active players in the startup market. They want to support the Copenhagen ArcticEvening and create value for the whole industry. You can follow them on twitter or read their blogs.
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TechCrunchTalk Nordic was held yesterday in Stockholm. The event was sold out and gathered many familiar faces from the startup and VC communities for panel discussions, presentations and pitches followed by drinks and networking.
The panels and presentations had a good mix of representatives from the entire region and discussed topics covering the Nordic and Baltic startup and VC culture. In my opinion the most memorable message sent was by Pär-Jörgen Pärsson from the VC firm Northzone Ventures. He presented some hard figures and facts just to state how the Nordics is the best exit market in the world with 36% exit rate, Skype excluded. So - the startups in the Nordics rock!
When thinking about investing in a very early stage startup where the technology or the market has not been proven yet, the focus shifts to the team. Naturally there needs to be a big enough theoretical market, the technology needs to work and product needs to make sense even if only to those few individuals, namely the team and the investors (think Twitter). But when the idea is only a very rough proto or just a concept, the team will make all the difference. Team is always important, but in early stage startups it's hugely important.
I talked to a prominent VC over a dinner this week and he told me that despite all the attempts it is very hard to determine what are the key success factors for a startup ie. which startups make it and which won't. But one thing where there was a correlation (not necessarily causation, but correlation) was whether the entrepreneur had previsous successful starups under her belt. So not just startups, but successful ones that he followed through with regardless of whether the idea evolved as they went forward. This might sound obvious, but it is interesting still that this is the only factor that can be shown to correlate with the success of a venture. What this comes to prove is that early stage venture capital is people business. Having said that, it does not mean that you need to be a succesful serial entrepreneur to be pull it off. If the entrepreneur doesn't have a historical track record, and most people don't, there are other indicators to look at.
Last week Kuneri won the Best SpeedNet Pitch award at Symbian Smartphone Show 2008 in London. The CEO Ugur Kaner pitched Kuneri and their next, biggest product Pikkoo to a jury consisting of representatives from Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Navteq, Orange, and Symbian. Pikkoo should be launching in a closed Beta soon, stay tuned for invitations.
But that wasn't enough, Kuneri was also selected to represent Finland at Mobile Summit 2008 in Stockholm this week by Mobility @ Otaniemi and got the opportunity to pitch at the VC Panel event. Digital event marketing and media agency Ramblas Digital got the other speaker slot for the main stage.
Congrats both Kuneri and Ramblas!
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!
Editorial note: We're publishing Kristoffer's report from Seedcamp as they made it to the semi-finals for screening. Depending on the feedback we'll see if we should make this a habit in the future as well. Please let us know in the comments. Thanks to Kristoffer for an excellent report!
On the left two founders from Uniki, Teemu and Tuomas from Scred and Adil and Anthony from Entrip.
Last week we got fantastic news. Scred had been shortlisted as one of only about 40 companies to be interviewed by Seedcamp's distinguished panel — a group of prestigious international VCs. Considering that several hundred companies, from all around Europe (and even some from outside) had applied, this was huge for us. In fact Scred is the first Finnish company to make it that far, and was one of only two Nordic companies present.
I attended a pitching competition organized by Venture Cup Finland on last Thursday. I was hoping hear some excellent pitchs, of which to grab some good takeaways. But I have to say I was a bit disappointed.
Two things let me down, the pitches and the jury work. I'm not saying either ones were bad, but I didn't really see much excelling there. Beforehand, it was claimed the jury will judge the pitches by the presentation skills and by the business idea. However, watching the competition, it felt like the jury was missing a common criteria for evaluating the pitches. They were each picking up different things in different pitches, be it the idea in general, presumed technical feasibility or financial outlook, subjective feeling, etc... Also, what came to the presentations as such, very few comments were made - I would've expected a lot more comments than just "your presentation was nice..." And, if a pitch clearly gets cut off due to time ending, while missing some information, it should not get three times 4 points (out of 5) from the five-member jury, in my opinion...
Regarding the pitches, they were slightly modest, and some even unstimulating. There were a couple of exceptions, including the winning Maija Itkonen's Power Kiss (in Finnish), which was delivered nicely. Also the content of the pitches was quite varying. Again, there were a few clearly rehearsed ones, but the rest would've needed a lot more dry runs beforehand. From two I couldn't even figure out what the opportunity or product was exactly, and in many the financial opportunity was completely left out.
I'm not claiming I'd be any expert on this subject, but the way I see it, you need to start with the customer's pain, i.e. the problem statement: who's got a problem, and why it's important? After that you need to state a clear, compelling value proposition: why it's you(r company) who can solve the problem, and how? Then you'll proceed to the financial potential. Of course you can start with your strongest point, but each element should be there. Four key attributes in a pitch would be: the pitch should be be succinct, easy to understand, induce greed, and be irrefutable. It should not leave the investor with more questions than answers. And you'd better show some enthusiasm.
A lot of the pitches I witnessed were missing much of the above, unfortunately. The organizers had done a good job, though - the cocktail catering afterwards was great, and facilitated some good conversation among those of us remaining... Anyway, I'd recommend checking out MIT 100k Elevator Pitch Contest and some other guidelines if you're interested.
PS. We were discussing with Antti Vilpponen it might be nice to organize some sort of a gettogether around pitching, providing an opportunity to practice, present your company, and to discuss with likeminded people. If you think that'd interest you, let us know: info (at) arcticstartup.com.