Winning at Tech23

Oct 26

Winning at Tech23

It’s been a massive week, and I thought I’d do a personal post on what it was like to win 3 prizes at Tech23. I don’t usually do personal blogs – I honestly don’t think the inner working of my mind are that interesting. But this time – as really a note to self – I thought I would so at the very least I am reminded about how exhausting and time consuming the whole process is.

Firstly, I spent A LONG time preparing. I think any major talk/ presentation you do is probably going to take around about a week of your time. Even thought this was a 5 minute presentation, speaking unaided means you have to memorise it (if you want to get the main points in – which are crucial). The prep takes easily as long as a 45 minute presentation so don’t think less time equals less prep time, the opposite is true.

The second thing is that it was really important to get feedback from my peers, industry heavy weights, the Tech23 Team, my husband and my 3 year old. I had the chance to pitch 6 times to the first three groups in two sessions organised by the awesome Rachael Slattery. It meant that I cut out heaps of market landscape stuff and focused on how I could explain what StreetHawk does so that my mum and dad could (even) understand it. I saw a lot of other Tech23 companies benefit from this too. Their pitches were filled with tech acronyms and frankly stuff I will never understand. They totally simplified it for the day so that everyone in the audience could understand them. They did a brilliant job.

My husband also helped me cut out the jargon and my self-styled short-cut language. My 3 year old just got bored if I didn’t seem enthusiastic enough. At the end of sitting through another 5 minute practice, he said – ‘Mummy, does this mean StreetHawk sends me messages, me?’ and I said yes. He said ‘That’s great’ and I knew I was winning the understandability stakes.

Another thing I learned is that you really have no idea how adrenaline will affect you on the day. All you can do is rely on the practice you have done. What I found strange was just how much I had pumping through my system. I have spoken a lot before in front of small and large audiences, from students to big, scary investment types and have never been that worried by it. I don’t know why this was different except that perhaps this pitch was to peers.I also think that if you’re a bit ‘sensitive’ like me, the stress being leaked out by others in such a concentrated way is something you can’t avoid.

On the day there were plenty of very nervous CEOs, some who have raised millions of dollars, or have been at this game a long time. Again, I put it down to presenting in front of peers. And I don’t know why, as founders are probably the most supportive of each other. VCs can rip your throat out being ‘cruel to be kind’ but maybe we don’t care so much about them!

Finally, I got a lot of ‘great pitch’ from people I thought were just being kind. Turns out, that even though I forgot a lot of what I was going to say, I did do a good job (thanks to preparation). I was really surprised to get anything, let alone three awards.

So really, if you’re going to take any learnings from my Tech23 experience, it’s to prepare,  and be prepared for anything on the day. I will probably add  a few links to this blog including video pitches from my favourites including Script Rock, Mike Baukes  just added some real magic (again prep – know your audience and it helps to have done the same pitch at least 10 live times!).

Happy pitching!

Natasha

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