“One of my biggest flaws is I don’t take advice.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
On the 12th of March SLP had its practice Demo day class. This is an elective session, with the aim to give the Fellows a friendly environment to practice their pitches for the Demo day. Throughout the Program there have been ample opportunities to craft and refine our stories, yet given the busy schedule it had been a while since we last pitched in front of a filled room.
One thing I learned from running the Business Pitch event was that the Fellows seemed to value feedback more when it focused on the chemistry (positioning, tone, style and delivery) rather than the physics (business model and unit economic critiques). Having done a quick market research pole from the Fellows on what they would like to get out of the evening I formed the hypothesis that mentors that were incredibly experienced in helping startups craft their pitches would probably be the right approach.
I then set out to look for mentors from Techstars and Seedcamp along with speaking coaches that help startups and entrepreneurs tell their stories. I also wanted someone with incredible technology and product experience that could help the Fellows better frame their products and services. Lastly, I wanted to focus on bringing in people outside of the SLP network. With incredible luck Jules Mckeen, Carl Petrou and Vinita Rathi became our mentors. Jules is an incredibly impressive serial entrepreneur and Techstars mentor. Carl is a very successful entrepreneur in his own right, with several successful ventures, and also happened to be a Techstars alumni. Lastly, Vinita has built and runs a very successful development agency and has mentored, organised and judged many Women Who Code Hackathons.
The evening was always going to be figured on the fly. Given the elective nature of the class, it’scommon to have cancellations, schedule changes and last minute required adjustments. Steven and I were figuring out the handover, house cleaning announcements and introductions 2 minutes before we kicked off.
Embracing the fluidity of the evening we started with fireside chat with mentors followed by 6 Fellows practicing their pitches. The evening turned out to be incredibly valuable to the group and a huge success. From the questions and answers session to the feedback on the presentations, Jules, Vinita and Carl were phenomenal. Helping to frame our stories better, drill down on the important and cut out the unnecessary. Their wisdom and help proved invaluable and I and the SLP would like to extend a huge thank you to Jules, Vinita and Carl. We hope all three can become part of the SLP network and we look forward to seeing you at future events.
This class is not one of the important sessions on the program. In fact, it probably ranks at the bottom of the list given that it’s optional and falls just before an all-day Saturday session. However, what the evening proved is that with incredible mentors a simple practice session can turn out to be far more valuable than ever hoped for. Several fellows approached me after the class to tell me that this had been their favourite session or to compliment the panel selection. This was all completely due to our 3 mentors on the evening. In running any successful business getting the right advice and guidance is key. This class once again re-affirmed the notion that seeking out brilliant people that have been there before can be invaluable for any endeavour.