It’s the nature of Andy Fishburn’s job as head of investment at Virgin StartUp to know a good pitch when he sees one. Here, he reviews five pitches from the 2015 Voom competition and offers his expert opinion.
The pitch: Roccbox
The good: Tom talks about the number of ovens he’s sold in the two days since the product was made available. Although he doesn’t have much to go on, this is a really good way of indicating early interest and demand for the product. I love the idea that Roccbox will help to reconnect people with the great outdoors.
Tom also explains how, in the age of smartphones, this product can help bring people together. This is smart, because it elevates the product from ‘portable oven’ to something much loftier. It’s often true that people don’t buy into what you do, but why you do it – this pitch reinforces that.
The bad: I’d like to hear more about the product – what sets it apart from other ovens on the market? Why would I buy this one and not one of its competitors? I’ve looked it up, so I know that the product is actually very cool and beautifully designed, but it doesn’t appear in the video. I’d like to see it, so I can picture exactly what’s being pitched.
The pitch: Oppo Ice Cream
The good: The narrative of this pitch is built around the beginnings of Oppo. The brothers’ story (which begins on a kite buggy) makes the pitch exciting, as well as relatable.
Sadly, we can’t try the ice-cream via video. But the revelation that the product is stocked in Waitrose and Ocado acts as a seal of approval, giving the pitch added credibility.
There’s a really confident ‘ask’ in here. We understand why these guys need to win: “We need to establish Oppo as the go-to for healthy indulgence. To do that, we need to develop a marketing campaign, and to do that, we need to win.”
Charlie is ambitious. He gets us thinking about how far the product could go. “Ice-cream is just the start… we want to be known as the go-to for healthy indulgence.”
The bad: As a general point, it’s always good to practice your pitch in front of several different people. If there are common questions that come up at the end, revisit your pitch to see how you can address them.
The pitch: Aduna
The good: The storytelling narrative is engaging. Andrew does a good job of conveying his motivation and passion for the opportunity presented by baobab. The National Geographic stat brings perspective to the size of the opportunity, and the use of props is excellent. Aduna’s branding looks strong, so I’m glad he’s showing it off.
There is genuine sincerity in Andrew’s delivery that helps me buy into the ‘transformational power’ of baobab. While it’s important to practice your pitch, it’s equally important your delivery is natural, so you connect with the audience. I think Andrew does a good job of this.
There’s also a clear call to action for us – “help make baobab famous” – and I really want to get behind baobab.
The bad: Andrew sells his vision, but a number of questions are raised about practicalities. For example, on a social level it’s great that the baobab trees are community-owned, but what does that mean logistically? The social element is important to this proposition, so I’d like more concrete examples of potential impact. For instance, for every 100 baobab bars sold, how much money goes back to rural Africa?
The pitch: What3Words
The good: The opening facts really grab your attention – “4bn people are without an address.” Giles is very good at articulating the problems caused by having no address – access to finance is restricted, parcels aren’t delivered, businesses lose custom. The idea that we could positively impact such a huge number of people is inspiring, and it’s something that an investor could get excited by.
The bad: Unfortunately, it’s not clear what the underlying business model is. Where does the revenue actually come from? This is something I look for in every pitch and, in this case, the answer isn’t clear.
The pitch: Kino-Mo
The good: Kiryl outlines the ‘problem’ well – the high cost of traditional hologram technology – and he has a clear solution for it. The direct ‘pitch to camera’ is broken up by product shots, which keeps the pitch engaging. This works particularly well here and in general with products like this, which are easier to demonstrate than to describe.
The bad: It would be good to hear some practical and commercial examples of how the technology could be used. He talks about a partnership with thousands of bars – what does this look like? How are the bars using the holograms? I’m still unsure what the real-world application is.
Current competitors in Voom 2016 are right now competing for the public vote on their pitches. With €1.2m in prizes up for grabs, entries from SMEs can be added up to 10 May, and those that make it through the first round will meet Fishburn and the rest of the judging panel at a non-stop Pitchathon.
Good or bad image via Shutterstock