[Article Sharing] How to make the most out of Founder Showcase

The following article is adopted from Elisha’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Made it to the recent 7th Founder Showcase 3 weeks ago at San Francisco where Naval Ravikant spoke about doing one exceptional thing instead of doing everything (traction, team, product, social proof, pitch) well, and Mark Suster advised us to take 2 when the hor’dourve tray is passed because you don’t know when it will be back around.

While the event was great and I learned quite a bit of stuffs, I wished somebody told me what to prepare before heading over. So I thought I should do a  I-wished-I-knew list for any Singaporeans (or people living in this side of the world) who wishes to hit Founder Showcase in the future.

General

Arrive early
There are about 500 attendees present in the venue. While that means there’s a lot of people you can meet, it also means that people wouldn’t be bothered if they missed you. So make sure you arrive early enough to clear any jet lag that will stop you from looking ultra radiant with a big-ass smile.

Go to some networking event beforehand
To all folks who’s awkward at networking sessions, attend some networking events to get used to the accent and what people usually talks about before the Founder Showcase. So far the conversations I eavesdropped are about tech stuffs I don’t understand. There’s an event almost everyday in Silicon Valley (checkStartupDigest for listings) so this shouldn’t be that hard.

Leave late
Not too sure if this works but if you’re pitching, it might be a good idea to hang around long around enough to score some meetings. After all, that second meeting will be significantly more significant than the first meeting at the Showcase.

Bring moisturizer 
Your skin will start peeling as if you got burned by the sun right about the time when you’re done with jet lag. When your skin does that, BB cream can’t save you and you have to go foundation-less. ……….. Ok, this one’s just for your inner bimbo (yes, there’s one in everyone)

Not pitching

Have something ready to show
Sighs. My only regret going to Founder Showcase was that I didn’t have a demo ready. You can’t make someone love the product without the product. And many of the attendees there are people whom you want them to love your product. Bring an ipad ready to show your product.

Pitching

Beg/Borrow/Steal/Punch/Kick/Hit/Lie to make sure you pitch in the first session
I don’t know how the sequence of pitches go, but I do know that about 40% of the audience leave after the first half of the Showcase. Not surprising because the event runs pass dinner time. So pitching in the first half gives you more exposure. Plus, pitching in the first half gives you something to network about during the break between sessions.

Have charm
The competition goes like this, there will be 5 pitches per session. In each session, the audience vote for the best company. The judges only decide between the 2 best companies of each session to win the competition.

While the audience are not uninformed about startups that you can push some inspirational shit to win their votes, I believe that a certain amount of charm could come in useful.

Otherwise, bring tons of friends along. lol

Have traction
The prizes to winning the pitching competition are not fantastic (it’s USD2500 in cash, $1000 in Elance credit, $500 in Tropo credit, and an iPad 3G) but if you, like me and Charlie Sheen, love winning, have some traction before you pitch.

Between the final 2 companies, the judges seem to be judging on investability, or how invest-able a company is rather than the awesomeness of the product or the pitch.

Apply to pitch

After reading to this point, you should be itching to sign up for Founder Showcase already right?

Shame on you who don’t.

To apply for pitching (it’s free), you have to register yourself at thefunded and get other users to vote you up. Note that not any random person gets a membership there. They will pretty much be your fellow entrepreneurs, future partners or investors.

The next Founder Showcase should be happening around September/October.  For updates follow them on Twitter, or Like them on Facebook.

Things to note: Bring an iPad to showcase your product! =)

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