Last Friday I attended my first pitch event as a Vulcan Post writer, but in the clubhouse. Yes, that app that everyone (including us) has been talking about lately.
In the past, my colleagues have visited both physical and virtual pitches, but even for virtual ones they at least had a slide show and saw the moderators and judges.
Since Clubhouse is an audio-only platform, I thought it would be interesting to see how the pitches would work without pitch decks or the faces of the presenters.
The present jury consisted of:
For those unfamiliar with Clubhouse, it's an invite-only audio chat app that was blown up in part thanks to Elon Musk. Users can go into rooms to listen to the speakers or join the conversation.
There is a saying that a good pitch usually doesn't need visuals to secure it, but as someone who has never attended a pitch event before, I wasn't sure how true this statement is.
And the reason I've never been given the opportunity to attend physical pitches is because I came to Vulcan Post during the pandemic.
There were 6 presenters in attendance that day, and some notable were a social enterprise that sold popular branded items and donated the funds to charities, a facial recognition service for loyalty programs, and an online e-commerce platform for kitchen appliances.
The style of this event is almost like MaGIC's Grill or Chill, where the moderators get pitching and feedback from the investors on the panel and no funding is promised for the event.
Most of the moderators are first-time visitors so it was expected that some of them would have hiccups here and there, for example if they did not make the most of the 3 minutes allotted to them, if another moderator came in their place, and so on.
There were about 60 people attending the event … Can you find me in the sea of icons?
"Fall in love with the problem, not the solution"
For the facial recognition service for customer loyalty programs, her idea is to help customers whose telecommunications are not covered in the region because they cannot claim their rewards or make payments.
For the most part, the judges failed to grasp the significance of this idea. They shared that it sounded vague and a bit scattered as there wasn't really an emphasis on what this company was trying to solve.
"I've heard things like loyalty, redemption, electronic payments, healthcare scanning, it just went in big circles," said Paul.
"What you are missing tells us the big picture: Why should we care about facial recognition and loyalty systems? How does this help the SMB behind the counter? And how does that help the person at the counter trying to buy something?" added.
According to them, it is important to be as niche as possible in the early stages rather than trying to use the technology to reach every possibility at the same time.
For my part, I had doubts about the problem as no statistics were presented on how many people were facing these loyalty program problems, which in turn left me unsure of the potential market demand for this solution.
Avoid asking questions before you even throw
The other interesting pitch was from an already established startup called My Cooking Story, an online kitchenware e-commerce website. They started their pitch with a question just before delving into the meat of their presentation.
“The figure is 100 million RM. I offer the opportunity to win 5 million RM in 3 years with a share of 5% in the company of 1.5 million RM, if possible today, ”the moderator began.
After listening to them I found that this was the solid pitch because they understood their market well, but it could be that they are already an established startup. However, this introduction has pretty much thrown some judges off.
"Normally, I would like to know about the problem and the product and the business before you decide on the terms of the investment," said Tiang Lim.
"If you first said who you are, wholesalers at Tesco who sell 8 million knives, the credibility would already be there. But when you got that feeling of arrogance, we all shy away because we don't even know what the problem is with should start, ”added Bikesh.
After watching all 6 moderators, I noticed that the only thing they always got feedback on was their problem statement. They were either too vague, not really a problem, or even explained too much.
In order to start a good pitch that is related to the judge, one would therefore need a problem that is supported by sufficient statistics and market research.
The potential of the clubhouse as a pitching platform
Surprisingly, it wasn't too difficult to keep track of what was happening at the pitch event, even though it was all audio. However, this still depends on how good a speaker is the moderator.
The lack of images also forces listeners to grasp more spoken detail rather than relying on slides to keep up with the information being presented.
Since this was done via a group phone call in an app and not in a room full of eyes, the atmosphere of the event felt quite casual. I can imagine that it would have been less nerve-wracking for the moderators as they didn't have to show their faces or pitch decks.
I don't think visuals were necessary for this event as it was mostly a pitch exercise and most of the moderators were still in the brainstorming phase.
For pitches that ask for full-scale funding, a visual representation is better as charts and graphs can help the audience and judges better understand the numbers and statistics.
Would the clubhouse then be the platform of choice for many seats in the future? I wouldn't quite say from my experience. It suits more relaxed feedback-based pitch events like this one, but those that involve actual grants and funding are most likely sticking to physical or virtual pitch shared pitches.
It seems easier to build trust and credibility this way, and body language conveys a lot more than just one voice can do on its own.
- More pitch events that we covered here can be found here.