Today was the first day of AppCampus. Once thing I remarked on right away was just how international the whole crew was. Off the top of my head I’d say that Russia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Vietnam, China, USA, Lithuania, The Czech Republic, and South Africa where all represented.
Today was primarily general info about the program then a pitching session. It was interesting to hear the pitches of the rest of the applicants and they ran the gamut of what you’d expect with everyone in vastly different stages of development.
It was the first time I’ve pitched the concept of Game Day Go to a group of people. I’ve pitched Location Star a few times but Game Day Go felt different, its a much more specific, concentrated thing. I still need to work on articulating exactly what it does. I get the emotion out regarding the problem I’d like to solve, but also still figuring out how to explain the feature set without completely rambling. Things like:
Game Day Go – The sports app for the casual fan
Game Day Go – Experience the game from anywhere
And a bunch of other things that sound equally vague and uninspired.
The pitch session was led by Juha Ruohonen. The main takeaway was ‘pitch like an American’. That of course comes easy for me but it dawned on me that for most of the people here English isn’t their first language. And the sort of self-assertive concepts that have been hammered into me at other startup events needed to be double-reinforced here for those who’s culture goes against those mannerisms.
I went first (very ‘American’ of me) which turned out to be good and bad. Good because I got it over with, bad because after I stumbled through it Juha outlined the key points to make when pitching. Its actually a pretty valuable hierarchy so I’ll spell it out here:
Punchline (opening intro to get their attention)
Problem (framing the problem you’re trying to solve for users)
Solution (providing the unique way you are solving the above problem)
Value (what exactly you offer to the user in providing a solution to their problem)
Money (your business model or how you plan to be profitable)
Team (who is working with you and why will they make it successful)
Traction (at what stage in the market is your product/service at)
The Ask (what you’re asking the group you are addressing for: money, testers, feedback, new hires, etc…)
Say you have 2 minutes to do a pitch. The above gives you an outline to frame the time you spend around each point. You’d have about 10-20 seconds to hit each one. This is good in that its super easy to get stuck on one section and the next thing you know your minutes are up and you never got to ask for what you wanted (the reason for your pitch!) or you have to race through it. Both of which are not ideal scenarios. My downfall was asking too many questions from the audience in the beginning, then struggling through the specifics of how I was going to solve my problem. Not to mention I missed even bringing up a few of the points.
I’ve always skewed to the emotional side of pitching. I believe in core concepts and figure that will get me through. I was mistaken in this case. Having the system gives me a structure to work around and ensures I hammer home all of my points. With practice I should definitely be able to interject the proper emotion for each point.
After the pitches we broke up into groups and went over what changes we made having been exposed to the outline and given our first pitch. Everyone was pretty good with feedback and you could start to see them already think differently about how to get these concepts across.
In other news, Finnair lost my suitcase! I couldn’t believe it. It was one flight, no connections. They were really nice about it and gave me a Finnair travel bag. Was great considering it was a courtesy travel bag from an airline. Had socks, a tshirt, and other things I needed pretty bad if I wasn’t going to get it for a day.
On Sunday I spent most of the day walking my jet lag off around Helsinki. When I first arrived it was a little overwhelming finding my bearings and locating the hotel, but after walking it for a few hours it made more sense. Whenever I head to a new city I beeline for examples of their regional cuisine, so I had a Hunter’s Sandwich (open faced steak sandwich w/ mushroom sauce) lunch at the art-deco vibed Sea Horse restaurant. It was just what I wanted, some comforting Finnish fare. Then I had more comforting Finnish fare for dinner (sauteed Reindeer w/ lingonberry and gherkin) at Zetor. So needless to say I can wait a while until I have more.
The Hunter’s Sandwich at the Sea Horse
Looking forward to tomorrow, hope I get my luggage.