Acceleration

Maze X startup accelerator – Week 6

Henni, co-founder of SitEinander, at the Pitch Practice of Maze X, the impact startup accelerator

Goals: improving the business, storytelling and designing the perfect pitch

A year ago, we bumped into an article titled ‘The Pitch is Dead. Long Live the Conversation‘. We were preparing the Demo Day of a previous accelerator program, and we asked ourselves Should we keep on pitching in Demo Days? What does success mean for the founders in these events?

After a long reflection, we decided to keep the pitch. And the reason is simple:

The pitch is the departing point for all introductory conversations regarding your business. The pitch is the home where all the important messages about your business live and evolve. These are the numbers, facts and arguments founders want to be repeating again and again until they are imprinted in the hearts & minds of the people that are relevant to them and their business. And this can be trained, practised and mastered.

Pitch Practice

On week 6 of Maze X, we spent two full days improving the pitch of the 9 impact startups of Cohort 1.

On day 1, we started by doing an improvisation exercise to relax and focus our minds on communication and persuasion. One member from each startup had to choose one among a series of random objects that ranged from bicycle pedals to plastic human bones. They had 15 minutes to prepare the perfect sales pitch with their teams and then, present it to the group. The results were outstanding.

Jordan, co-founder of SitEinander, at the Pitch Practice of Maze X, the impact startup accelerator

After, the 9 founders pitched their true business to an audience of teenagers who were not afraid to ask questions. ‘By removing the slides for the teenager audience we were forced to slow down and use the anxiety in another way.‘ said Michael Parkes, founder of Urban Food Box. This was very relevant to help the founders simplify the messages.

In the afternoon, we had our first pitch roast with Emily Avila, an expert in public speaking and Orson Stadler, Maze X investor in residence that provided valuable feedback in their respective areas of expertise. All founders participated in the roast, and they all benefited from hearing each other pitches and learning from the feedback.

On day 2, we had three clinics in the morning: business, storytelling and design. This allowed the founders to improve their pitch based on the feedback they were provided the previous day.

We had lunch with Hugo Augusto, Managing Director of Techstars Lisbon, and also a co-founder of MyChild. He shared his learnings on how to pitch your business and engage an audience of investors. As a co-founder, he spent a lot of time raising money. According to Hugo, one of the main mistakes founders make is to show too much willingness to customise the product/service to get a YES from an investor ‘You say you can do everything for everyone. Investors want the opposite‘. Finally, he reminded us that every time someone pitches a business they might be tapping on talent. And talent is the most valuable resource of any business.

We wrapped up with a second and final pitch roast to assess improvements and define the priorities until the Demo Day taking place on July 4th at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

 

Photos: Henni, co-founder of SitEinander, during the improvisation exercise at Maze X Pitch Practice (cover) and Jordan, Chief Data Scientist at TUKI.

 

Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas and Casa do Impacto as partners.

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