Tag Archives: Excelerate

Lessons Learned from Pitching our Startup

Nick Yecke of PVPower Launches SolarBear

Early last week our company PVPower presented in front of over 200 investors from throughout the country, along with friends and family at the House of Blues in Chicago. ‘Demo Day’ marked the conclusion of the Excelerate Labs 2010 summer start-up incubator program in Chicago. All of the companies knocked it out of the park with their presentations. The amount of preparation, focus and precision by the group was truly a pleasure to see unfold.  The mentorship of Sam, Troy and Brian (Excelerate leads) was crucial to the show being deemed one of the best people have seen. I don’t think venue selection hurt either, you know what I mean if you’ve ever been to the intimate, yet slightly eerie House of Blues Chicago.

I was fortunate to present the PVPower demo/pitch for 10 minutes on stage last Tuesday. A very gracious introduction by Chuck Templeton only helped me as I took the stage. In preparation for and during this great day I learned a few things about how to pitch and position a company to a wide variety of investors and mentors. Here are a few of my personal insights:

1. Be Real – When presenting something that you know intimately, in a high-pressure situation, it isn’t the time to fake it. Be yourself. Use your style, your emotion and your words in describing the business, challenges and solutions. If you don’t do this you’re likely to fail.

2. Have Fun – We had a ton of fun putting this presentation together. Dan (my business partner) and I wore green PVPower shirts, obnoxiously orange Puma’s and one of our co-workers even dressed up in a Polar Bear costume to help launch our new SolarBear web application. SolarBear (the Polar Bear) was in the first balcony and I gave him a shout-out mid-presentation. Bringing a smile to everyone’s face, including mine – now that sure eases the pressure.

3. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. – This seems obvious, but true preparation takes weeks and requires guidance from a variety of people, co-workers and mentors much smarter and experienced than yourself. You don’t need to take all of their suggestions, but do look for trends and listen closely because these people know what they’re doing and likely have done so in the past.

4. Pretty Pictures – Nobody has ever said that there were too few bullets on a PowerPoint slide. People hate words, they like stories, and investors love numbers (as they should). Support the numbers with awesome, striking visuals that make the numbers memorable. This is how the audience will remember key points, and at the end of the day that’s what you’re going for, 2-3 hooks that the audience (in this case investors) remember about you and your company.

5. Simplify – Only talk about the headlines, the key points that are crucial to drive home. Use devises such as music, video and imagery to reinforce your points. We used an awesome video (below) created by our friend Matt over at Vidiseo to explain (in a very simple manner) the problem that our customers face. (video password is “solarbearvideo”)

PVPower SolarBear Intro from Nick Yecke on Vimeo.

More from TechCocktail – Excelerate Labs Demo Day

Full Excelerate Labs Demo Day Photostream over at Flickr

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Excelerate Labs – The First 3 Weeks… Already?

I can’t believe that we’re in the third full week of Excelerate Labs, man time flies. Our company, PVPower, has been luckily selected as a participant in the inaugural class of the Excelerate Labs start-up incubator program in Chicago. So far it’s been an incredible experience.

Excelerate Labs

The incubator is being run by Sam Yagan of OKCupid and SparkNotes fame and Brian Luerssen of Hyde Park Angels, among others. There is a lot of leadership and support being provided by Troy Henikoff of Northwestern University, SurePayroll and OneWed, Sandbox Industries and Kapil Chaudhary of i2AFund. So far all of our colleagues in the program have been nothing but impressed by their organization, tynacity and connections. The third piece I mention is the key, connections. I’ve been blown away by the quality of people who have given their time and energy to this program. To coach our up-and-coming businesses, provide council, resources and advice – many of these things you couldn’t even buy, especially from people of this caliber.

I’m looking forward to the next 2.5 months of Excelerate Labs, it can only mean great things for PVPower and our future. Working with the folks we continue to meet and developing relationships is a lifelong value that I couldn’t be more thankful for.

If you’re a business leader, entrepreneur, investor, technologist, or simply a wise old (wo)man please drop Sam and Brian a note and let them know you’d like to participate, I’m sure at least one of the companies could benefit from your experience.

Excelerate Labs…
Website: http://www.exceleratelabs.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/exceleratelabs
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