Using Powerpoint in a pitch presentation is like that time Uma Thurman snorted heroin in Pulp Fiction. If you’re going to use it, use it right. With that opening quote, from guest expert Christoph Sollich, last night’s Founder Institute Startup Pitch Bootcamp in a packed upstairs room at Betahaus, Berlin, really got going.
About the only thing the eight contenders in the speed-pitching session had in common was their lack of presentation slides. There were two events masquerading as startups (Tech Open Air Berlin and Failcon Berlin), one Silicon Valley import and a new signature dance move… On the jury: Sollich, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, who is in town for the next month, Aydogan Ali Schlosswald from Deutsche Telekom’s new incubator hub:raum, Paul Nelligan, Holger Dietrich and last night’s PitchSlam winner Michael Roben.
Crowdcademy, TurnYourTime, that cool-sounding DJ app
Were there enough big ideas in the two pitch competitions this week? One audience member thought not. Too many mobile “social” apps, niche adaptations of existing ideas… “What about global warming? How are we going to solve that?”
Fair point, but last night’s founders would probably argue their ideas are ambitious enough. Tim from Crowdcademy wants to create a crowd-rated, curated search engine for online skills. Sergej wants to strengthen communities with skills exchange platform TurnYourTime (he’s added a signature “clock arms” move to the pitch since last night’s PitchSlam, where he placed second).
Jawed Karim’s hacker brother Ilias, taking a break from Stanford University, shared an idea he’d been working on for a while – a mobile app to turn playlist-makers into DJs, allowing users to cut in voice clips and mix tracks using their thumbs then share it quickly with friends. Very cool, and the audience clearly felt the pain point. “I tried to show my girlfriend my DJ skills two years ago and she laughed at me,” one jury member admitted…
PingBox – keep track of viral videos and hard-to-find flicks
PingBox might have trouble with URL recognition (pngbx.com, it took a bit of Googling) but the idea is memorable – an easy and secure tool to help you organise your (probably partially illegal) movies and keep track of what your friends are watching, whether it’s on desktop, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu or mobile. One thorny question: will users be willing to pay for a video storage service when they’re downloading or streaming for free?
Fabbeo – a Shapeways for Germany
Fleur (above) and her team from Fabbeo are building a marketplace for 3D printers, starting with Germany, where Shapeways is yet to get a foothold. And, yes, it is possible to print a 3D printer, which you can build from open-source designs for about €2000.
Sellbox wants to turn Dropbox files into gold
Sellbox, the startup-child of Daniel Mendalka (above right) and Piotr Machowski, already has a CrunchBase profile and a bit of media coverage behind it. Like hot Silicon Valley startup Gumroad, Sellbox, not to be confused with the book-to-ebook converter of the same name, wants to let you “sell as you share”, in this case your Dropbox files. Sign in with Dropbox, pick a file, add description and price and get link to sell via PayPal.
And the winners are…
TurnYourTime and Ilias Karim’s DJ app (the successor to SoundCrate) shared the top spot for pitch of the night and both won a scholarship to the Founder Institute mentorship and acceleration programme in Berlin in October (6Wunderkinder CEO Christian Reber and Amen co-founder Felix Petersen are among confirmed mentors). There are five more scholarships up for grabs, thanks to Sven Lubeck from Covus. If you’re interested in applying, please contact Sascha Karstädt directly at email@example.com.
We’ll close with another Pulp Fiction quote from Sollich, one for the runners-up. “Everybody be cool…” – there’s always the next pitch.
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99 Problems but a pitch ain’t one – top VCs and investors on the secrets of a perfect pitch
99 Problems but a Pitch Ain’t One Part 2 – startup mentors on what gets their attention
99 Problems but a pitch ain’t one Part 3 – pitch secrets from CEOs and entrepreneurs