Startup pitch competitions can be intimidating but if you win it can be a huge boost for your startup team. At the very least it's an outstanding addition to your startup's resume. Winning a startup pitch competition, especially in New York City, will give you tons of exposure, free PR, and potentially connect you with advisors, mentors, and investors.
Make sure you prepare based on how much time you have allotted for the presentation. Also, prepare to cover each subject that you are being judged on. Skipping judging criteria to focus on your business plan is a common error in startup pitch competitions. The judges have different categories they need to check off and if you skip just one and you'll automatically lose valuable points. This seems obvious but is a common error in the whirlwind of planning your presentation.
Don't just talk about your product, show what it can do. The winners of TechCrunch Disrupt NY '15 was Liquidity. Liquidity is a water filtering system that uses a precise and dense mesh of fibers. The bacteria get stuck, but the water flows. You just need to change the filter every two to three months. The company is also thinking about licensing its filters for other products. It’s cheap, practical and efficient. It’s also the result of 15 years of patented university research. A well-deserved win.
The key differentiator for Liquidity vs. the other extraordinary startup finalists was that Liquidity demonstrated their product. On stage, in front of the judges, the founder gave a live demonstration of their water filtration product - by drinking water straight from a pond in Central Park. There aren't definite reasons to point at this being why Liquidity won. But you can easily imagine the judges going over the finalists and having an extremely tough decision on who to choose, with the Liquidity demonstration being a key reason on why they ended up choosing them as their winner.
The end result of startup pitch winners is a mixed bag. In the long run winning a startup pitch competition is not an indicator that your startup will end up being the next unicorn. That being said the early exposure of winning a startup competition will be nothing but a positive experience. At the very least the break from the long hours will be a positive change and a breath of fresh air for your team. Taking the time to prepare your presentation will give you insights and reminders into what your original vision was and where it's headed. This can easily be forgotten in the daily grind of building your startup. Entering a startup pitch competition and competing against your peers will be a positive outcome for the health of your startup regardless of what the judges say.
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