8 things I wrote down while people pitched their sports tech ideas at me

I spent Tuesday evening hosting Sports TechPitch 4.5.

Eight pitchers, three minutes each, five judges. The winner gets some industry kudos, exposure to some real life VCs and a bottle of something.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 17.26.03

The judges are there because they know about tech and/or entrepreneurship. I don’t claim to know much about either, so I was there to keep things ticking along. The atmosphere is supportive and because I’m not one, I have enormous admiration for people who are or are trying to be entrepreneurs, risking their own money and devoting their lives to the idea.

It’s an intense couple of hours and this is what stayed with me.

1 We all have our own lens

Nic Couchman is a lawyer. Dom Moorhouse created and sold a big project management consultancy. This shapes their world view and the questions they want answered. I’m a journalist. I get stories. I get bored and confused when there isn’t one.

2 I didn’t understand what most of the ideas were

Related to 1). Each pitcher was given a form to fill out beforehand and this was distributed to the judges as prep. In this form was a box where the pitchers were asked to write down what the product was they were selling.

In only a few cases did they succeed in telling me in simple terms, what it was they were selling. My frustration may be due to the fact I’m not a techie. But I’m not an idiot either.

3 Some never got beyond the first sentence

Because of 2) I spent three minutes trying to work out what the business did. This wasted time I could have spent thinking about other questions, such as how good it was and whether I’d invest in it.

4 I remember people

Eight ideas in 90 minutes. On the train home I couldn’t remember very many of them. But I remembered the people giving the presentations. They were all competent. All spoke well. Some immediately struck me as people I would give money to (with the obvious caveat that I’m not going to give them money, but you know what I’m saying).

5 Most failed the film test

A sign of a bad film is that when you start watching, it reminds you of another film. Often, when listening to the pitchers, they were reminding me of other businesses.

6 Pitching in public saves time and money

Often, the idea for the business is flawed in some way. It might be the market isn’t there, or the tech is faulty and will take too much money to make better. Whatever it is, its better to fail quickly than die a slow, lingering death.

7 Entrepreneurs are like writers

The story analogy again. Having just written a book, I was struck with the similarities. Both involve a leap of faith. There is a longing to run a business, just as there is a longing to write. Both are encouraged by the democratic idea that we all have a book in us and the self help industry is as keen to take our money along the way. Also, in both cases there are two types of people, the ones who plan meticulously, and the ones that prefer a more spontaneous approach, leaving some freedom for interesting diversions. In both cases, the need for a strong central idea is paramount. It’s that story which keeps everything moving forward: And then, and then, and then. The rest is sweat. Which is important too. As is ability.

8 I want the dream layer

If the product is there in front of me, I lose a bit of interest. When the basic question being asked is, this is what we’re selling, we need the money to make more of them, some of the magic dissipates. I like it when something not quite formed is presented, which allowed me to project on to it what I’d do with the business idea. Again, the writing thing is relevant. Stories take place mainly in the head of the reader.

As mentioned, each of the pitchers were great in their own way and I wish them nothing but luck and vast wealth.

 

 

Warning: Moderation taking place #AWEurope

Doing a panel session at AdWeek Europe on women in sport for Havas. Come and say hello.

My head appears in this video.

Golf and the Art of Trump

In 1987 one of the best selling business books of the year was The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump, which the man himself referred to with typical understatement as the second most important book in the world, after the Bible. The Donald was the tycoon de jour, the most famous businessman in America, as prominent in the gossip pages as the financial press.

Until recently The Art of the Deal has lain unloved in the remaindered section of secondhand bookshops and the outer reaches of Amazon’s search algorithm. But now the ‘author’ of the book is in the race to become the most powerful man in the world and The Art of the Deal has been given a new lease of life. This time next year Donald Trump could have his hand on the nuclear button and assume control of the world’s biggest economy. His campaign for the Republican nomination has electrified and horrified audiences far beyond the voters of the 52 states, and has left voters of all political colours to ask the same question, what sort of president would Donald Trump be? Continue reading “Golf and the Art of Trump”

I’m with Nick on this one

“All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal…With each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”  –  Nick Hornby

Forget Brand Sharapova. Remember Sugarpova

The whisper was that she was retiring

But it turns out Maria Sharapova took the wrong drug

It’s fitting given her brand status that she was allowed to control the news release

Nike has dropped her, a Damascene Conversion

Sensing a Tiger like fall, Forbes rushes to put a dollar figure on her brand value

The point is not what she’s worth

It’s how she used her brand power when the world was watching

We’d all have taken Nike’s cash, or fronted Dolce e Gabbana if asked

To look in to the true meaning of Brand Sharapova, always remember Sugarpova

The Jack Nowell Brand, part 1

Jack Nowell is ‘the tattooed, rat’s-tail haired son of a Newlyn trawlerman’

Jack Nowell dropped out of the New Zealand tour to get his knee right

Jack Nowell scored a try against Scotland

Jack Nowell is the new face of Team England after the Disappointing World Cup™

Jack Nowell wears white boots

Jack Nowell did a nude Demi Moore cover for The Times

To be continued

Lord luv a duck! 16 names for the London NFL Franchise™

Two hardy perennials of sport biz coverage are now officially linked forever, as from this day forward The New Spurs Stadium Story™ is attached to the uber chestnut that is, The NFL London Franchise Story™. Continue reading “Lord luv a duck! 16 names for the London NFL Franchise™”