Last week I’ve been on the last day of Protechting’s bootcamp. It’s far from being my first one, but it was the first time I actually stopped to analyze them. Not to judge them, not to evaluate them, but to have their backs even without speaking. A lot of our startups come from abroad so their support system is far away.
I used to have this teacher back in college that said we all should go, at least once, to a club, to be completely sober and just observe, he said it was one of the richest sociological experiences he’d ever had. I never did it. But I’ve decided to observe people during a pitch day of an open innovation program, I pretty much minded their businesses without even knowing them.
For a week the startups share our building (Beta-i) but the whole team doesn’t have a close contact with them – we’re almost 60 people -, so we don’t get to know their dreams, their hopes, their fears. But if we stop for an hour to hear them pitch we can have an easy access to all of that. The beauty of pitching is that is someone on their most vulnerable state, trying to convince people they’re good, that they’re here to make a change and they know that unless they’re willing to put their heart, sweat, tears and nervous system on stage, they don’t stand a chance.
I learned that the more you understand and/or enjoy a certain kind of technology the more focused you are during the pitch and the more the nerves are insignificant to you. I have a soft spot for healthtech so, even though, I know for a fact they were all nervous it isn’t that easy for me to understand it and that made me realize that who’s evaluating can easily ignore the fact that their hearts are on their mouths on that stage.
Dry mouth, racing heart, moving hands frenetically are some of the stage symptoms, but it’s the differences that make them unique. Some decide to face the stage in pairs, others record their partner on stage. I may be extremely unfair here but I’d say portuguese and spanish are the ones who show more nerves on stage – this hot blood of ours doesn’t help our cause. The funny thing is that their posture changes from night to day as soon as their pitches end and the Q&A starts.
What do they all have in common? The relief when leaving the stage. For what they all go through, the pressure they put themselves under, my huge congratulations. All 23 were amazing – they always are.
However, from those 23 there were 12 moving forward, it’s not a matter of being better, it’s a matter of fitting better the needs of the client. And those are: SkinSoul, Criamtech, CopSonic, Humanoo, Wall-i, MedicSen, Gistek, BaylifeTech, TMASS, SpinAnalytics, Cardiomo and Rnters.
We’ll see each other soon.