Friday, June 29, 2012

Pitching: Change the Physics of Data

Today we'll have the London Tech City Mentoring event for which start-ups have been preparing.

Pitching is really just saying what you want others to hear, in the way you want them to hear it.  I'll take here David White's vision for his own company, Kusiri.

Pitching can transform the physics of data.

In this paradigm for pitching (maybe it also applies to Kusiri?), the Law of Integrity is governed by the addition of conviction.  If you feel that what you say is important, then others will, too. 

Empathy is a chemical reaction.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Springboard in Action

Yesterday I worked as pitch doctor with Springboard's start-up teams for a second time to help them prepare for Demo Day on 5 July.  Impressive progress from our first round two weeks ago.  They'll now practice every day until we meet again on 4 June for a final run-through.

The challenge here is both content and performance -- you can say all the right things, but if you don't sound like you care, listeners won't either.

This matters a lot when you're pitching for investment.

To make things more challenging for our heroes, Estonia's Wise Guys incubator start-ups are pitching in the morning before Springboard even arrives.  Springboard's companies must really shine if they want to be noticed after investors have already had a morning of listening for opportunities.

For now, here's evidence that at least one of the teams, Teddle, does actually do what it says on the tin.

Teddle found Jess Williamson, key player in Springboard's success, a local hairdresser immediately, which is when she needed one.  In fact, the treat made Jess, with very few hours sleep, look a lot like a Bond Girl.

Here's the proof -- and stay-tuned for more on Springboard.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Don't Like How Your Business is Going? Tell a Different Story

In Harvard Business Review, Rosabeth Moss Kantor sums up very succinctly how the wrong narrative can sink your business and the right one can get you back on track.

The first step is recognizing that the right story is THAT important.  The second is finding the right person to script it.

I spent the last week in NY with Emma Gilding, a rebranding expert, working with a small company to raise their profile.

Just a tip on hiring -- those of us who started in theatre have an instinctive grasp of effective narrative and how to make it work.  Our training?  Make something believeable to a crowd of people you've never met out of absolutely nothing, on deadline.

Emma began in the theatre with many similar convictions as I.  In fact, we even overlapped at Central School of Speech and Drama in London.  She was a student -- I was only helping out a friend. 

In any case, find the underlying truth, create the right script, play it with conviction, and it's hard for your business to fail.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Second Pitching Event: Lessons Learned

The second pitching event at Hackney House, leading to a Speed Mentoring session on 29 June, was even more well attended than the first.  Everyone worked very hard, and after 4 hours, we had all stories reframed and ready for practice.

One of the participants, Peter Johnston of wrote to me afterwards: "I wanted to thank you for the feedback from Friday, I've digested a lot of it, and will be much stronger next time I hope."

Where Does Hope Come Into It?

Here's a big challenge: the first time you transform a story whose telling has become habit, you're left in the in the space between the comfort zone you had before and the dazzling effect you're like to achieve.

In other words, it's unfamiliar territory.

The only way to go back to a place where you feel comfortable -- with material more effective than that which you had a habit of repeating - is to practice.  You then have replaced ineffective habits with more effective ones.

All the participants promised to do some homework -- to write their pitches on cards and learn it so that if someone were to wake them in the middle of the night, they could rattle off the story by heart.  Only once you know something cold can you improvise - as you must with each new set of listeners -- because you know how far you can go out on a limb before you have to come back.

It's a lesson Max Roach taught me at 21 on my first day working at La Mama Cafe back in my days as a theatre dramaturg. It's one that I relearn every time I work with a new client.

So here's the very impressive Peter Johnston and me -- come hear his story on the 29th. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Calling All Start-Ups to Hackney House

I led a pitching event at Hackney House last week.  I've never seen a Pop-Up Venue so elaborate.  It's very much worth checking out.

On 15 June, there will be another that will qualify start-ups for the Speed-Mentoring event on 30 June.  You can win a Kindle if you're the best at it.

It's all free of charge, sponsored by UKTI, so register by emailing Karen Ball as soon as possible:

All you Start-Ups who need a place to work and be inspired, visit even without the pitching event.  You'll probably need to wear headphones to prevent distraction.  It's full of genuinely interesting-looking people and events. And the furniture is rather fabulous, too (Philip Stark, eat your heart out).

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Blah Blah Blah Investment Blah Blah Blah

Following on from the last post on investment pitches, I'm clearly not the only one to read Gary Larsen.  And investors aren't the only ones known for their strategy of listening through pattern recognition.

A friend and client, Angelica Robinson of Jobs4Creatives, sent me this:

Investor Pitches - Hear Here

One of the ways I describe how and what investors hear in a pitch is through the cartoon "What a Dog Hears" by Gary Larson.

Where Gary Larsen puts "Ginger," insert "when-will-I-get-my-money-back?", "How-big-is-the-market-so-I-will-get-my-money-back?", "what-is-your-usp-so-I-will-get-my-money-back?," and so forth. No disrespect intended -- we all are creatures of pattern recognition because it saves time and attention.

No disrespect intended - we're all creatures of pattern recognition because it saves time and energy. So know the patterns your listeners attend, and you can't help but be heard.