Last night in New York The Hatchery hosted their infamous ‘Are You Serious?’ pitch contest. The Hatchery, founded by Yao Huang, is a venture collaboration forum that builds a community of entrepreneurs, emerging companies, and investors, via its events, advisory services, and incubator.
The winner of the pitch was OCX Open Capital Exchange. OCX is a lending platform that connects small businesses with credit investors. The exchange offers up to $100,000 for one year with interest rates as low as 8%.
The other four pitches included:
FundThatFlip: A crowdfinancing platform for real-estate. Professionals and DIY flippers can raise money to purchase and flip residential real-estate. The minimum backing is $5,000, but with real-estate you can realize an 8 to 12% return for this amount.
Bownce: A social networking site for athletic recruiting. The platform allows coaches to interact with the athletes they are recruiting in an NCAA-compliant environment.
Kicker: Kicker is a news website that gets down to the important news without sacrificing fun and engaging content. However, you won’t see any cat stories on this website unless it has to do with PETA. The team focuses on servicing Millennials who have a difficult time getting up to speed on what's happening in the world and helping them discover how they can take action.
goPR.it: What do you hate spending money on? PR. I’ve been a victim to PR prices as well, so I can see the value in this platform that connects all sizes of businesses to journalists. The prices of PR Newswire alone will make you love the $99 a month fee for goPR.it.
On the judges panel was Sachin Jade from Klifer Capital, Adam Quinton from Lucas Point Ventures, and Dawn Kikel from 37 Angels. 37 Angels puts a gender-twist on the typical setup of an investment firm. Each investor in this group is a woman, but they invest in male or female-run businesses. One attendee asked the judges if any of them tend to invest more in startups led by males or females. The consolidated answer was females, but mostly by coincidence.
Stand-out startups in the crowd
Outernet’s Lantern: In my opinion, this is a disrupting device and service that I cannot wait to come out. The company calls Lantern an anonymous portable library that constantly receives free data from space. It streams uncensored news and information from space, not from what we or news outlets curate and broadcast. And, with programs launching soon with The World Bank and IREX, millions of people will have access to free information from this portable device.
Check out their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which is asking for $200,000 and has already raised $50,000 in 2 days. There are levels of funding starting at $1, to the deep-pocket funding level of $5 million to $1 billion. Yes, please.
What’s great is that for $99 you can donate a Lantern. And for only $30 you can get a Global Library Card to Humanity’s Public Library which is an 8 GB micro SD card pre-loaded with software to turn a Raspberry Pi into a DIY Outernet receiever. It is also pre-loaded with a trimmed version of their Core Archive.
Vengo Labs: A digital vending machine that offers consumers more information about the products. The machine is smaller than traditional vending machines, and it is more pleasing to the eye. I am pleased to see a company going up against the traditional model in the vending market, especially because they offer other forms of payment besides cash or coins.
Love That Fit: In short, this is a digital dressing room. No more trying things on, no more waiting in line, and more importantly…a reduced number of returns. The system works by letting consumers take and send in pictures of themselves. Then, the company converts the pictures into measurements. Using a ‘proprietary advanced modeling system’ the consumer can try things on via mobile and ecommerce shopping to understand where the clothes will be tight, where the lengths of pants and skirts fall, etc.
I’m excited for this business to move forward because it seems like a long-time coming for a technology we engineers have seen since the first 3D scanning device came out. At every tech and 3D printing show I go to, I always see image conversion apps like Autodesk’s 123D Catch, which turn images into 3D models. It is beyond me why this service has taken so long to develop, but I’m hoping it takes off so that we can save fuel and cut time from the act of returning items.
More about 'Are You Serious'
‘Are You Serious’ is a typical pitch event where five startups take five minutes and a handful of slides to explain their business to the crowd and to a panel of judges. The difference is that these judges not only score the businesses but also tell the crowd and the presenters what they are thinking from an investor’s standpoint via questions, examples, and straight-to-the point opinions. The event is similar to Shark Tank or the original series called Dragon’s Den. However, the winner is not given any funding but I’m sure the judges and the presenters connect afterwards if it’s a fit for both parties.
Nonetheless, the event helps entrepreneurs understand what types of questions to expect from investors and how to perfect their pitch. In fact, at the end of the event a professional speaking consultant critiqued each of the pitches. He pointed things out like a lack of smiling, voice projection, body language, etc. Another helpful piece supplied by The Hatchery is a list of points to cover in your presentation. The list is found on the Are You Serious Meetup page and below:
What your product/service does
What issue/pain is it looking to solve/address
What is the solution
What is the addressable market
What is the competitive landscape
Any current customer/client/pilot pipeline
What is the revenue stream/source
What are your financial projections
How much are you looking for in investment
What will you do with the money, how will it be spent