We are Weekdone, an internal communication, team status updates and goal-setting company (it's free to try and forever free for small teams). Exactly 2 years ago, in November 2013, we won the pitching competition at Slush, one of the largest startup and tech events in Europe. We were the best out of 100 companies pitching, winning 3 rounds of pitches over 3 days: first 100, then 20, then just the finalists pitches. Good times.
As Slush is kicking off again I thought I'd share our winning pitch slide deck and my exact script. You'll find them below. Before that also some tips on what I believe makes a great pitch.
What was interesting is Weekdone went to Slush as a black horse. Initially I had planned to go to Slush because of the great parties and all the drinks they have. We did not register among the 100 startups selected, but a slot opened up at the last minute so we accepted the possibility. That also meant quite a short time to prepare. But if you're pitching Slush this year then remember: you still have 48 hours to go, more than I did. Use every second of it to make sure you win.
Where we are now
2 years later Weekdone is a successful profitable company of 8 people, used to improve collaboration and team spirit from Fortune 500 to startups and SMEs. Our customers, while most of them in the US are situated across the world on all continents. People really enjoy using Weekdone to improve their teams and companies. Weekdone has shown that in addition to real-time messaging and chats, what many need instead is a simple high-level communication and sharing tool. Instead of thousands of lines of chats to read daily many people tend to enjoy just a quick high-level overview of things that matter. These include goals and accomplishments, quick ratings and open feedback questions, like what are the things that can be improved in a team next week. The weekly paradigm and limited key facts make sure that everyone, both leaders and co-workers actually read what's being said. More importantly, it's all actionable towards people and teams. Weekdone is all about making teams more productive and transparent, about improving how your company is doing.
Some startup pitch advice
Tell a story. Paint a picture. Sell a dream. Cover everything: problem, solution, customers, sales, funding, the big dream. Numbers help. Plenty of good advice out there on the 5-10 slides each deck should have.
Write a script. However good presenter you are, without a script you'll always do worse. Every word matters. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. It's good to know your speaking speed (words or characters per 10 seconds) so you'll already know how long the script should be.
Time your script. If you have 3 minutes, you have 3 minutes. Leave some slack time as well. When timing at home, in a familiar setting, always leave 10-20% of pitch time free. I believe my pitch length was 2 min 30-40 sec when timed at home, but in public settings it always took more. 10 slides in 3 minutes means just 18 seconds per slide. In the script below I don't have timings per slide, but usually I do and I did when preparing. Every second counts.
Rehearse. Learn it by heart. Do it again and again and again. How many times to rehearse? For most Europeans I'd say 50-100 times minimum, for Americans 25-50 times. It must be in the back of your head, even in stressful situations. Don't lie to yourself that you can do it without trying it out loud 50 times.
Present to people you know. Try it out in small settings.
Design matters. My co-founder Veli is a kick-ass designer. Always involve top designers in designing your pitch. Big part of winning Slush were how the script and slide design were tied together.
Simple slides. Not much text. Beautiful design. One sentence per slide max. You don't want people to read your slides or go deep into them. They'll not listen then. They must listen, not read. People are crap at multitasking. I don't remember what kind of an accident had me leave slide 9, the team in in such a format. I forbid you using such slides with so much text. 10 words max per slide.
Know what you're doing. Know your product. What customers think. What competitors think. Know things that don't work. Know what does. Focus on what works, but be prepared to answer everything else in Q&A. Faking rarely works.
Be confident in Q&A. This I believe worked out well at Slush, together with knowing what we did and do.
Be human. Both when presenting as well as in Q&A. Don't be a machine.
Focus at the event. Forget all the parties, free drinks, other presentations. Keep rehearsing. I was in my hotel bed before midnight, with all my friends enjoying the massive party Slush has. I had just my script in front of me.
Have fun. Pitch competitions in most cases don't matter. Selling to customers does. Take the pitch with a light heart and enjoy it. The less seriously you take it the better you'll do.
Weekdone Slush 2013 winning pitch deck
Here is the 12-slide deck we used to win. The script to it is below, they go hand in hand.
Weekdone Slush 2013 winning pitch script
Here is my exact script, slide by slide, sentence by sentence, word by word, copied from my old docs. I'd timed it, learned by heart, rehearsed, rehearsed, and rehearsed some more.
Hi! My name is Jüri and we are Weekdone.
Do you know what your team members achieved last week?
Do you knows their this week's plans?
Do you regularly collect improvement ideas and suggestions from your people?
Most managers don't.
Most spend too much time in unstructured meetings.
Weekdone is a quick team dashboard with weekly e-mail reports.
It's a tool for managers to run their companies better and improve internal communication.
2. Backstory + problem
Let me tell you a story.
I used to be a board member and sales and marketing director of a big IT services firm.
We had 600 people.
Reporting to me were the legal team, marketing team, account management and sales teams in 5 different business lines.
A big part of my job was to quickly know, what each team had accomplished, what their plans and problems were.
Managing this was a nightmare.
I had no good tools to manage the process.
It’s a problem most managers we’ve talked to agree with.
Like our customer quote below says, Weekdone is a solution.
3. Current manager tools: e-mail and docs
As consumers, we have tons of different tools for our daily needs.
Especially on mobile and tablets.
Managers unfortunately still use mostly e-mail and shared excel and doc files for everything they do.
There are very few special tools.
This will change soon in enterprise.
Managers already demand beautiful easy to use tools, similar to consumers.
Especially big is the demand on mobile and tablets.
4. Employee form
Weekdone provides managers and team leaders with high-level overview of how their teams are performing.
Here is how it works.
Once per week each employee is reminded to fill in a quick form.
It takes just a few minutes to enter their weekly progress, plans and problems.
5. Report & dashboard (Benefits) for managers
We then compile a beautiful report for the manager.
They access it on the web, get it delivered to their inbox, their tablet or their smartphone app.
Our visual dashboard helps managers understand in seconds how the teams and people are doing.
They quickly see when someone underperforms.
They see who needs more attention and who deserves a pat on the back.
They can proactively apply corrective measures and take actions.
Weekdone helps a manager to be data driven and fact based, not just gut-feeling based.
6. Paying users
We are loved by customers of all sizes.
Launched earlier this year, we’re now at over 50 paying companies.
There are many more free users and ongoing trials.
We've grown to a few thousand dollars monthly revenue.
The numbers are going up fast.
Our paying users include teams at companies like Autodesk, Expedia, HP, Shazam, American Airlines, Ripleys and Sunpower, down to small startup teams.
Many of these are companies where there is potential to grow to thousands of users, increasing our account size and revenues.
We currently charge a few dollars per employee per month, keeping the price low for marketing and distribution reasons.
Over time, there is an opportunity to charge more.
We’ve already had interest from investors and partners to take Weekdone to regions like Asia.
Our team, who knows each-other for years, is based in Europe and New York.
We cover all areas from design and development to marketing and sales.
We’ve designed some of the top services coming from our region.
We have done both startup exits as well as run departments at large companies.
Our early backing is from angels like Skype and Kazaa founding engineer Ahti Heinla
and people who operated and later sold Russia’s largest social network Odnoklassniki.
We are looking for immediate smaller funding round of ~100k.
In 6 months time we want to close a larger seed round of over half a million.
If you want to make money, come talk to me right now.
11. Big vision
This is going to be big.
100 billion dollars, like dr evil said, when taking over the world.
Although we start from one specific feature, our goal is to build a large-scale European enterprise software company, with hundreds of millions in revenues.
We are building a foundation to a suite of functionality, encompassing everything related to company people management.
Weekdone is going to be the single most used tool in any manager’s pocket, used at work as often consumers use Facebook or Twitter.
We’re just getting started.
FINISH ON STRONG SENTENCE / CTA!
That's all. It was interesting for me to re-read the script as well, not having opened it since November 13, 2013 🙂
Good luck at Slush and other startup pitching competitions! Focus and work hard on #winning. Then you win.
P.S. Remember that more important than startup competitions are a great product and selling it to real customers. Be close to your customers.
P.P.S. Are you running a team? You can do even better. Try out Weekdone for free to improve your team spirit, productivity and communication.