Embodying the phrase standing-room only, PitchBreakfast was so full the audience spilled out from the Packard Place Garage event space into the hallway. As I stood listening in the bustling and energetic crowd during the quarterly IDEA Fund Partners Pitch event three lessons emerged.
Right on Time
Startups need capital, and investors need confidence in user adaptation and growth. Historically it seems as if Charlotte startups had the idea and passion, but investors were a little cool on the lack of documented user adaptation. A classic catch-22 scenario would ensue – Charlotte startups needing investors to grow, while at the same time having growth as a requirement to get investment. Whether it be the improving economy, growing startup scene – think incubators, coworking spaces, population growth, investment funds – or a confluence of some or all the above, the time seems to be right to start and grow a company in Charlotte.
A true sense of opportunity abounds at events like PitchBreakfast from the early-stage companies participating. With a panel comprised of seasoned investors (IDEA Fund is one of the most active in the Southeast) members are as sincere in their advice as they are realistic. In other words, you don’t have to have everything planned out yet, with a general idea and an openness to critique, one can collaborate on a vision for a lasting startup venture through helpful experience-driven dialogue. While there is no promise of raising a successful round of funding at the event since it’s purely for educational purposes, and not real fundraising, startup founders that subject themselves to the process will be far better off for doing so through the guidance and exposure PitchBreakfast offers.
Emerging Tech A Must For Growth
Leveraging new technology was a theme among all four participating companies. With Hibot and HoneyFi the flourishing chatbot trend was something both companies are looking to exploit. The growing trend in startups leveraging user-generated content and aggregation of news among media organizations seemed to fit the business models of the other two presenting companies, MedPortal and Plugs.
Build a company with tech top-of-mind. When founding a startup it makes sense to focus on what emerging technologies like VR, AI, machine learning, data analytics and so forth can be baked into an idea. This will create a richer user experience that is more likely to catch investor attention. During the event it was evident that connecting trending tech with a promising idea made a company more investment-ready than ones that lacked the adaptation of new technologies.
Getting to Know You
PitchBreakfast audience members know their stuff. Questions and comments posed were as informed as they were probing. While no poll of the audience was taken, it is clear that many would be in the relham of early adopters, potential investors, or even staff. This is an asset founders can use to their advantage at no cost to the company.
The audience seemed to be as interested in the founders as they were in the companies. Character matters. An initial concept for a company, as one IDEA Fund panelist pointed out, is far less important to investors than the person behind it. A familiarity seemed to exist in the audience with the connection between the founder of a startup and the business itself. This could be called the Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk effect. With Charlotte still as much of a town where everyone knows your name, as it is an emerging tech hub, your character can and should play a role in the startup you pitch for funding.
With a lively and informed host, panel, audience, and group of startups, it is no wonder the attraction is growing. The big question for November will be where to put people after the hallway fills up.
Level Data Analytics Bootcamp is a sponsor of PitchBreakfast. A new cohort begins October 19. Learn more here.