Early Stage Pitching

Interviewing founders

This week StartWise met with George Parrish, Super Connector, Pitch Coach, Startup Consultant, Business Angel at Society3. We discussed pitch judging, talking to investors and definition of success.

Some of our favorite quotes from George:

“Right place, right time, right product means you have a chance to succeed.”

“People need to be happy as the result of their success.”

“The best way to learn is by doing and executing your business plan every hour of every day.

The interview can be found below:

What are the tips for entrepreneurs to win investor’s attention?
George – You need to learn how to speak the investor’s language. Investors get turned on by numbers – talking in specifics, not generalities. On early stages, grow followers via social media and free downloads. These numbers 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 in Year 1 need to  grow fast – otherwise there is probably something wrong with the vision, your go-to-market sales and marketing strategies  and/or the makeup of your team. And you should never be embarrassed by existing numbers – everyone needs to start somewhere.

What is a common mistake for early stage companies?
George – Be careful how you launch – you need to start focused and have a solid plan of how to grow fast. Funnel the growth, take small steps and don’t let it scale out of control. The point is to get to the finish line – but a lot of startups start fast and big and just burn out. Also, a lot depends on the overall situation and outside influences: right place, right time and right product means you have a chance. Never be afraid of learning – the best way to learn is by executing your business plan on a daily basis.  If you cannot talk to people in a concise, meaningful manner at the beginning of your odyssey, chances are you, your team and your company will have a difficult time moving forward.  

When and how to start pitching?
George – The idea is really nothing until it is executed. The cold hard truth about business, any business (including the StartUp business) is that the market is the one who determines if your idea will succeed – so you need to start taking the steps that will allow you to succeed. Step 1 is that you need to get your IP secured and start pitching your idea.  Pitching to others, including Investors, will get you the feedback that you need to get in order to find out if you are headed in the right direction. First of all, most investors are looking for real business solutions to real problems so the most important part of the pitch is the solution – it separates you from everyone else in the pack: product, marketing, fit in the market, who are you up against. Secondly, the team – it is vital, especially in the early stages. If you and your people do not have any startup experience,  you must find Advisors or Mentors that have experience in the StartUp Vertica to round out your offering. The right Advisor and/or Mentor can have a great influence on the success of any StartUp. The wrong Advisor or Mentor can prove disastrous for a Startup. Solution and Team are the most important factors that judges and investors both look for. Also, have hard numbers and facts as well as be ready to take criticism. The Pitch has to be practiced over and over again – it takes a lot of work to perfect it.  Pitching is an acquired business skill, no one, and I mean no one is born with it. It takes working with someone (other than your colleagues at work) who can get the best out of you.  After seeing thousands, and I mean thousands of Pitches, there are still a handful of these that have resonated with me over the years.

You are devoted to helping others and ask people to do the same. What led to this philosophy of giving back?
George – Money is not the only way that I measure success. Today, creating impact is a new big trend – companies turning to help non-profits and taking a share of helping to solve global issues. What I am seeing is that startups are much more attuned to the Social Good – and that is to be commended. My philosophy is 1) treat people the way I wish to be treated and 2) people need to be happy as the result of their success – there are way, way too many who just don’t enjoy their personal and professional success. I got my slice of the pie, I’ve worked my whole life and I know that money is not the only thing that makes me happy – what truly makes me happy is my wife and helping others. And finally, no one, absolutely no one does anything successful  in life or business on their own. Somewhere along the line, somebody lends a hand up, shows a better, quicker, more complete way of doing things, tells you the honest-to-God truth. I’m no exception to this, and it is my turn now to give something back  that might help others succeed.

What is Society3?
George – Society3 is a global network of innovators – serial entrepreneurs, investors, experts and mentors which includes an accelerator program, networking and pitch events as well as a funding platform. In San francisco, we host monthly Pitch Nights to enable promising companies to present their ideas before the panel of top-notch judges and potential supporters. Founders of Society3 are successful serial entrepreneurs who take an opportunity, run with it and grow these ideas successfully. Society3 is based in Europe and the Silicon Valley – and that is amazing because this provides access to international collaborations and experience.

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Check out Society3 Pitch Nights – the next one is on May 18th at ImpactHub in San Francisco!

 

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