2. August 2012–
Eight would-be startup company pitch champions faced off last night at Berlin's first PitchSlam. Only one would take home the top prize...
The event, billed as Berlin's summer pitch Olympics and hosted at YAAM bar on the banks of the Spree, ran in three rounds, with audience voting and an expert jury - Berlin Startup Academy founder Christoph Raethke, Facebook partnership manager and all-around "media guy" Heiko Hebig, Startup Weekend Berlin organiser and Rally managing director Markus Schranner, and Hasso Plattner Ventures analyst Lisa Chong.
The four startups below made it at least to round two. TurnYourTime, "Project Expertise" and TimeCapsule (pictured above) made it to the final round, with TimeCapsule scoring the ultimate prize: two tickets to Tech Open Air Berlin (plus pitching clinic entry), three months membership at Ahoy! and $1000 in Amazon Web Services credits.
And the mood, one might ask? Breeze, cool sky, Corona with lemon, a queue for fried chicken wings and a crowd of about 100 with barely any laptops out.
"Coworfing" concept from a crazy Frenchman
"Crazy Frenchman" Alban Leveau-Vallier is part of what he says is a growing, working community without a permanent office base. Leveau-Vallier and the rest of the team behind Coworfing want to take all the co-working spaces, free Wifi cafes and hotspots in Berlin (to start with), with users also encouraged to make their own homes and spaces available, and put them on an app-access map for all to enjoy.
Some jury members felt this was bludging; I thought it was brilliantly useful, though not an easy money spinner. (We've also previously mapped co-working spaces in Berlin and selected our pick for the top spot.)
TurnYourTime – skillsharing spin on Milk.ly
Sergej Soft (aka Rewiakin) made it to round three with his spin on the likes of Milk.ly, TaskRabbit and all the other classifieds 2.0 services out there. TurnYourTime's point of difference is a focus on collaborative consumption within neighbourhoods.
Tricky question from the jury: the wisdom of basing a platform on what could be seen as a black market for labour (i.e. tax-free). Bonus points: social responsibility as a core part of the business model, which clearly won fans in the crowd.
"Project Expertise" – testing coders' mettle
That's the working title, anyway. Angad Singh is a Stanford University student currently based in Berlin. He wants to create a standardised test aimed, it seems, at all those Codecademy grads around the world who've taught themselves how to code, don't have degrees and may struggle to get jobs despite their excellent skills. The pitch: "expertise, not experience". It's a riff, sort of, on would-be LinkedIn challenger Geekli.st
TimeCapsule – making the web more meaningful
Michael Ronen charmed the sneakers off the crowd, calling on his theatrical training to pitch TimeCapsule as part of the answer to today's overwhelming, faceless, often meaningless flood of internet content. TimeCapsule, in my words, wants to fit the web with location- and time-based silos to encourage meaningful moments and memories.
What will that look like? Some sort of mobile app/platform that lets artists embed rich media ("time capsules") so that clips can only be experienced by people at the right time and location. A comedian, for example, could embed a dentistry-specific clip in a clinic waiting room.
This idea, the ultimate winner, grabbed me in the same way fellow Berliners Lover & Hater did. Sure, the ideas are early-stage and still a bit fuzzy, but using the internet as a "sixth sense" to explore places and cities and create unique experiences sounds like fun.
The organisers behind PitchSlam are Lutz Villalba-Adorno (TWiST Berlin, TOA Berlin) and David Nagy. For the second installment of this week's "All You Can Pitch", head along to the Startup Pitch Bootcamp at Betahaus tonight.
FOR RELATED READING, CHECK OUT:
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