Change, in a nutshell. This is the easiest way to describe all those buzzwords we keep hearing in the start-up space.
Change is important for lots of reasons, not least of which is to create something new for the economic benefit of our country. It is why the government backs research and development, it is why entrepreneurship and innovation are not confined to the initial stages of a new venture; they are dynamic factors necessary to encourage the ongoing viability of all business.
It is why we are here tonight. LESANZ (the Licencing Executive Society Australia and New Zealand) has been one of my go-to networks for 20 years. LESANZ is at the heart of WA Innovation and RSM is committed to supporting and advising the many committed organisations creating opportunities for change.
As Peter Drucker so succinctly put it, “innovation is the tool of the entrepreneur”. Innovators create change. Entrepreneurs apply change. That was the magic in the room for the annual LESANZ “Best in the West” Pitch night; an exciting line-up of changemakers ready to pitch their problem-solving designs and a carefully curated judging panel. Then there was the audience, a veritable treasure trove of innovation experts, investors and enthusiastic supporters of change.
The presentations weren’t perfect, from obligatory tech issues to nervous pitchers and that dreaded five-minute buzzer just when you found your mojo, but they were damn good. They represented creativity, lateral thinking, and the use of technical expertise to solve every day but critical issues.
The passion was palpable. It is one thing that never fails to impress me. While we all need to earn a crust, I admire the changemakers risk-taking efforts because it is something they believe in – because monetising that innovation is not even a sure thing, let alone a ticket to Necker Island (The Branson Island)!
This was evident from the judge’s questions that aptly sought to query how they could monetise their endeavour. For many of our pitchers, money was not the end goal – for most it was more about world domination of the good kind. They have visions of how their innovation can be applied all over the world, and pathways for how they can make this happen.
Change is a risk. Disrupting the status quo without guaranteed results is scary, convincing investors that not only your product but you as a person are 'investible' is no mean feat.
This is why we do what we do. LESANZ, RSM, angel investors, and business mentors come together, raise awareness, create nurturing environments and provide the right resources to ensure that innovators have opportunity and support to change the world.
‘Best in the West’ wrap
I was in my happy place hosting the pitch event, I love the energy of the innovation space.
We had six pitchers, ranging from medical solutions to building and construction, education and training, and food.
Our judges included Matt Macfarlane, angel investor, and business adviser extraordinaire. If you are in this space you already know this guy, and if you don’t – make contact tout de suite.
Carolyn Williams, CEO, Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation. Carolyn has the goods on moving through the innovation ecosystem and growing research seeds into entrepreneurial start-ups.
Rod Houston was our brains trust on strategy and business management and, “Houston we have an IP problem...”. No worries, Rod has deep knowledge on intellectual property commercialisation too.
Each pitch was allowed five minutes to spruik, with judges being given five minutes to ask questions.
The judges awarded first place to The Noisy Guts Project, a non-invasive diagnosis tool for those with gut issues (I won’t lie, happy to see a worthy rival to the dreaded colonoscopy replaced!), and second place to Gelavo Ice-cream – dairy alternative. As if avocados need any more kudos, now they can be turned into a sweet treat!
The people’s choice was awarded to udrew, its founders developing a project to simplify the building process with local councils – a great example of how asking new questions about a time old process can result in time and money savings, also, their use of emojis to demonstrate viability “emoji’s never lie” – genius!
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PITCHERS HERE.
Becoming pitch perfect
- Pitching is a learned skill. Practice, practice, and just when you think you’ve nailed it, practice some more. You can never be too prepared. Know your business model inside out, anticipate questions and remember to breathe every now and then.
P.S. Pitching solely to your mum doesn’t count. Invite constructive criticism if you want to nail it.
- Find out how much time your pitch is allowed. There is absolutely no reason to go over this time. Working within a time limit is critical to the success of your pitch and remember, no one project is too hard to condense into the allowed time slot – think executive summary.
- Rely on things going wrong. Tech not working, co-presenter has gastro, you left your notes in the car. All of this won’t matter if you get the first bit right and you know your stuff.
- This is a game of show and tell. If time permits, bring your prototype and while you’re presenting its world-changing attributes, let people play with it. Got food? Make sure it is prepared and presented immaculately and that you have enough for each judge. Showing off your software? Pick a great case study and move through the application seamlessly.
- Storytelling is not just a buzz word. As humans, relationships are king. In order to develop connections, demonstrate your 'why?' and invite curiosity – get personal. You know that story you tell people at the pub when they ask about your innovation, that story works here too. While facts and figures are important, people need to hear the passion, emotion and relate-able experiences that got you here in the first place.
Let’s keep talking
In addition to expertise in the R&D Tax Incentive, I am heavily involved in the innovation space with connections to universities, training centres, investors, mentors, and many more resources. Please get in touch and find out how you can be involved in this amazing community.
|Marshall Centre||Salutem Analytics Pty Ltd|
|Gelavo Australia||Maker Kids|
This blog was first published on my LinkedIn following the 2019 LESANZ ‘BEST IN THE WEST’ PITCH NIGHT in February 2019.