15 minutes. One Uber ride. One investor. One startup. One pitch. Go!
We can add another fossil to the list of cultural dinosaurs that have gone extinct since Uber came knocking: The elevator pitch.
UberPitch, a novel approach to pitching organised by Seedstars World and Uber, took place in Singapore today.
Founders and VCs were picked up at the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University or Singapore Management University and, during a free ride between the schools, given an opportunity to pitch their companies.
After the pitch, VCs offered constructive criticism of the pitch and advice on how the startup could improve.
“To be honest, 15 minutes is not even close to enough. Usually, I spend [around] an hour with someone… So I am trying to figure the person out. What makes them so excited to attack the problem? Because it is very trendy to be a startup founder these days but, ultimately, it is not for 99 per cent of people. That is what we are looking for,” Patrick Kershaw, Investment Director at Leo Tech told e27.
Before the ride, e27 spoke with Leonard Leong, who was pitching an appointment app called Fleet with partner Lester Phua.
“Our gameplan is to let the VC know that this problem (setting appointments among friends) actually is a very big pain [point] among students. So, having the pain point will drive us to come up with the solution,” Leong said.
After the 15-minute ride, we caught up with Phua, the other brain behind Fleet.
“[The VC’s] the advice was to go for pre-Seed funding because the idea has potential but is not at the place to pitch for a lot of money. I think she was receptive and asked questions that indicated she was interested. I understand that we are not ready for US$1.5 million (the Seedstars World grand prize from the global competition held in Switzerland) but we are here to get feedback,” Phua said.
Now that the event is over, Seedstars World Asia Regional Managers Karen Mok and Katarina Szulenyiova will work with the VCs to determine a winner. e27 will update when the winner is announced.
The champion will get the last open spot to be one of 12 startups competing in a regional pitch event, also in Singapore, on December 11. The winner of that event will be invited to Switzerland for a chance at the $US1.5 million investment.
Mok explained to e27 what it takes to win:
“In 15 minutes, [the investor] should have [an] understanding of the problem the company is trying to solve, what the solution is and who is the team behind the idea. If they can’t do that in 15 minutes, it is going to be hard to sell the idea,” she said.
A tidbit from a team whose job is to travel around Asia and speak to startups
Mok and Szulenyiova have a macro-knowledge of Asia’s ecosystem that is difficult to match. For the past six months, the duo has been travelling the region to set up events, talk to startups and get to know the scene in multiple countries.
So, sitting on the sidewalk with that amount of perspective, it was impossible not to ask,
“What is your favourite startup?”
“My favourite is a startup from Pakistan called doctHERs. They solve the social issue of women (medical professionals), who, after getting pregnant and giving birth, are not able to return to the workforce. So, basically, all of those skills they learned in university are going to waste,” said Szulenyiova.
“So, this startup solves this problem by creating an online platform for women doctors to connect with people who have no access to medical healthcare services. This way, they can work from home while caring for their children, and, at the same time, serve a population who would not otherwise have access to healthcare services,” ended Szulenyiova
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