Triangle Entrepreneurship Week 2012: Pitch Sessions #TEW2012

Triangle Entrepreneurship Week 2012Welcome to this series of semi-live blogs from the Triangle Entrepreneurship Week 2012 (#TEW2012) conference in Raleigh and Durham, NC. Any errors, omissions, or silly side comments are my own.

I was able to attend three of the four pitch sessions throughout the week.  Each of the sessions that I attended had multiple entrepreneurs provide a 5 minute pitch about their vetted entrepreneurial company and idea to multiple representatives of angel fund and venture capital firms.  The companies varied in industry, scope, and amount of funding they were looking to receive   Afterwards, the representatives of these firms were able to ask questions of the entrepreneurs for about 15 minutes.  If time allowed, the general audience were able to ask questions, too.  At the end, feedback  thoughts on the pitches and company were provided by the investors.  

Many of the ideas I heard were good ideas with good pitches.  Some of the ideas were good pitches, but not so good on the idea itself.  Yet others were good ideas and the pitches were no so good.

Because I do not want to give any info about the specific companies or their ideas (or which ones I did not think were so good on the idea or pitch), I have decide to provide a general listing of questions and thoughts from the representatives of angel fund and venture capital firms that I think would benefit all entrepreneurs when tailoring their pitch.  These are in no specific order.  Nor are they all the comments or questions.  Also, some were asked multiple times, so I did not repeat them.

  • How do you deal with decreased online/app engagement from customers?
  • What potential channel partners are there available?
  • Have you done any case test or test marketing the product on a smaller scale?
  • What is funding for and will you need need additional rounds?
  • What makes you different?
  • Details on revenue model?
  • In detail, what is the market size & what is your penetration in Year 1, Year 3, Year 5?
  • What are the barriers to entry?
  • Who is your competition?  (By the way, every company/idea has competition.  They may just not be exactly like you.)
  • How did you come up w/ idea?
  • Have you considered a smaller intial manufacturing run before the big roleout? (Less money outlay, less risk)
  • What is addressable market and is it realistic?
  • What market research have you done to look at market penetration? (A personal favorite of mine)
  • Why manufacture, distribute, & sell when there is the potential of licensing with a company that already has established channels?  Manufacturing, distribution, & sales are not your core competency.
  • What is protected about your product/idea?
  • What is average margin of the industry?
  • Be sure that the approach to financing & marketing is realistic.  Amount of funding may be too big for Angel funds and too small for Venture Capital.
  • Create a pathway in the pitch: start, end, and how do we get there.  Tell a compelling story.
  • Determine initial focus first, then expand into other channels.
  • What is uniqueness in relation to larger, well know, competition?
  • When dealing with a niche, is it too small?
  • When still in prototype, you need proof of concept.  (Do I hear someone needing market research?)
  • How do you ensure vitality when not a broad, name know, company?
  • What about falloff of customers on the app?
  • Convenience of market demand.
  • Know who the actual customer is.  It is the end user, which may not be the ones buying from you.
  • How did you figured the pricing of your product?
  • Consider test pricing vs. downloads vs. usage (Third market research reference.  You just cannot make this stuff up.)
  • If pitching a website/app, show it in the pitch.
  • What is the exit strategy?  Who would you want to buy the company/product/software?
  • Need to get good sense of direction.  Need to clearly know what is plan and pitch on it.

By the way, there is still a pitch session tomorrow.  Click here is you want to register to attend.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at


About J. Nolfo
Well...there is a lot to know. #Cx, #Analytics, #SM, Specialty #AgChem, #StL sports, & more. FT @BASFAgProducts. @Mizzou Alum. Supporter of the #Rhino. Tweets my own. #SMMW17 attendee....Dad...Hiker...Scouter...and so much more.

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