Do your pitch – then SHUT UP and Listen!

Do your pitch – then SHUT UP and Listen!

I was able to attend the GeekWire Anniversary event yesterday in Seattle (#GWSummit), great event, great turnout of ~500 people.

After the speakers had concluded, I was talking to an acquaintance who suggested I listen to an new Entrepreneurs pitch. I was intrigued because it started with “let me show you” on an iPad… I always prefer a demo to a pitch. However, it went downhill from there.

Instead of walking me through a demo, I got the “here is the website, what do you think” question. I figured that actually meant they wanted me to tell them what I thought…

  • Starting with the name – all the “good domains” are taken, so this was a misspelled, phonetic name that wasn’t a good choice. And even if you sounded it out you wouldn’t remember how to spell it to get back to the site the next time. I can still remember how to say it 24 hours later… couldn’t remember how to spell it…
  • The fonts on the logo were what Matt Shobe (@shobe) calls Font Salad – upper and lower case in the Company Name making it tougher to remember vs cute.
  • Speaking of fonts the <H1> headline was some old style Gothic font that didn’t include the name of the Company, just a headline from old England that didn’t tie the pieces together.

Other than that… well.

  • The market for this cool new product was: everyone. It’s good to have a vision of where you want to go. But pick a market that you CAN serve first, wow them and move on to the next market.
  • We talked about how much cash they had in the bank to make the point… given the limited resources. Go talk to your target customer FAST. Find out what they think, add or change the features and either fail fast or add more customers – but don’t go after everyone.

The hard part was the feedback process. One of the founders was asking good questions – “what do you mean but that”, “how would you target the customer”, “what’s the best way to get customer feedback”. Regretfully, his co-founder was off to another feature, still pitching.

If you find someone that will give you candid feedback. Stop pitching and listen.

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