After reading several blog posts from fellow founders, entrepreneurs and investors, we began documenting our journey just to have a point of reference of going back and analyzing what we’ve done, how we have done it, and what we can do to improve. A key aspect of this process is continuity and consistency, something that is challenging in and of itself, but still good practice in order to narrow down thoughts and learnings about each step of the way.
Last week, we were invited to pitch an entire day at Techweek NYC. Dubbed as “one of the top conferences for entrepreneurs to attend in 2016” by Inc. Magazine, Techweek is definitely a great, active place to pitch and be in front of all kinds of folks including investors, potential hires and users. Undoubtedly, New York is not an easy stage given the tough competition it has. In our experience when talking to other founders, it’s interesting to see that disregarding the industry each one is attacking, there are very similar methods to get from point A to point B: from prototype to MVP, from pre-seed to early seed, PR traction, just to name a few. A few weeks ago in Buenos Aires, fellow founders talked about the importance of getting yourself in the circles where you can potentially talk about your business and product, and something we definitely agreed on, was that it’s always important to apply to almost anything. Keeping in mind it takes as little time as possible (so you focus on building and iterating on your product), and keeping in mind that it’s always good practice to continue practicing. Meaning, the more times you can find yourself out of your comfort zone (that is, the 4 walls of your office), it’s great to talk to people, get ideas, get inspiration, and hopefully start new business opportunities.
Following this method is how we obtained the Audience Choice Award in Las Vegas and the Intalent Prize by MIT Technology Review and IDB. In a way, Techweek also happened simply because we wanted to pitch to more folks, be immersed in the NY tech community and compete for the Launch Startup Competition. The Techweek national Launch winner will get $50k in cash. For the NY chapter, there were almost 180 companies applying, out of which there were around 35 early-stage startups selected to be at the event. We had to set up our table and demo from 9 am to 3 pm at the Metropolitan Pavillion and pitch to whoever approached us. A group of anonymous judges would also be listening in and select the Top 5 to pitch from 4-6 pm on the same day to all judges and audience.
Throughout the day, we learned several things. Practice, practice, practice. Very much in line with Hillary Clinton’s way of replying to Trump’s allegation of her being on ‘enhancement drugs’: “That’s right Donald, it’s called ‘preparation'”, we also prepare extensively on what we want to say and how we want to say it. We are aware that the music industry itself is very volatile to the ears and eyes of investors. So our challenge is to communicate our value proposition up front and in a crystal-clear way. An important aspect of our pitch, and it’s something we’ve been noticing at other events and from people’s feedback, is that we focus on Hispanic Millennials. This is a no-brainer for investors and tech-industry folk. Why? Because it’s ripe for innovation. And it’s proven just by seeing how more and more accelerators, funds and incubators are focusing on offering the resources and opening the doors to Latino founders, also because they know what it represents to the economy. Again, something that Hillz knows, and Trumps simply denies (not to get too political here, but it’s true).
We pitched Stereotheque to the audience and judges and even though we received great response and feedback, we didn’t win, but were in the Top 5 in the NY chapter. Some facts, we were the youngest company competing (with only 6 months of starting), the winning company has been operating for over 2 years and has already several thousand users and a running product. So, in all, we felt pretty confident and satisfied with the results. Just to go back on the above comments, the most important thing we got out of this other than practice and the recognition, were the potential business opportunities that came up with very influential organizations (can’t disclose this for now, but hopefully will in the future).