Empty cinema chairs

Pitchaholics Anonymous

Hello, I’m a startup founder and I am a Pitchaholic

A lot of startup events are pitching related. There’s a few reasons for this.

  1. They are cheap to run.
  2. They pad out the schedule of a larger conference
  3. There are people who believe that an investor sitting in the audience will be immediately convinced and meet them off the stage with a massive check.
  4. There are people who believe that one of the world’s great developers is sitting in the audience and will meet them off the stage with an offer to build the site for nothing.
  5. The expert panel has no prep (just say the first thing that comes out of your head!) which is ideal for busy people so you can always fill it up. I’ve played this role… it’s fun to have opinions.

I know this is endemic to the startup world but in particular South East Asia has a bad case of over-pitching.

You’re pitching to the wrong people, at the wrong time. If you are pitching, know why.

You need to stop talking to other potential entrepreneurs, start pitching to rooms full of your clients and future customers. At ImpulseFlyer, we pitched to hotels and to groups of our target audience of customers, not to other startups.

Sidenote: Pitching at incubator demo days is worth it, if they are rammed with real investors.

Pitching to a room is an easy thing to do psychologically because when someone disagrees with you, it’s because they don’t understand. Plus you can pretend that all the preparation proves that you’re moving towards your goal. Right?

If you go out to the market and try and sell your idea and no customers come & pay, that probably proves that its not gonna work. But that’s good, because then you can work on the next thing. But then you can’t call yourself a founder anymore. Not good. Unless you want to actually do the tough leg work of trying to start a company.

Even with a functional business model this stuff is hard enough, so don’t waste your time pitching at every goddamn event: spend your time finding out whether your concept, with you at the helm, can ever make money. Else it is just a lot of talk and the simulcrum of action.

Thanks to Derrick Ko for reading a draft of this.


2012