Pitching for Management returned to Nabarro on 10th September. This is cashless pitching, where firms seek to hire key staff, or attract sweat equity investment, rather than gain financial investment.
The pitching firms were tech heavy, but varied in sector. Pitching for Management events tend to attract an older, more experience class of businessman (and they were mostly men) – both to pitch and in the audience. Only a couple of the firms were cast from the typical ‘tech startup’ mould, which visitors to the likes of Google Campus will be familiar with. The other firms were all run by much older founders. Today, one notable feature of the pitches was that they were all fairly established businesses, and the usual ‘pivot panic’ I suffer when watching presentations was notably absent. Only one of the brands seemed to need a fairly fundamental tweak/rethink, and the others simply needed to accelerate their progress.
Luke Raskino pitched Crowdmixx labs. This startup already has traction with major clients such as UCL. Their offering is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product to manage innovation contests and programmes. It cuts management costs, whilst ensuring that an organised and high-quality service is delivered to programme participants – all with a minimum of administrative hassle. It’s a relatively small niche. However, with a focussed and slick product, I’m confident they’ve a very high chance of becoming dominant in their sector. Luke was seeking advisory board members, and also assistance selling into his target market of institutional and corporate clients.
Brian Hawkes presented ForesiteSpa. I’ve had dealings with the firm in the past, and they provide an interesting SaaS solution for firms looking to improve their financial coordination and planning. The company has a strong product offering, but isn’t yet getting the sales success it deserves. Business development was therefore Brian’s focus, and he was looking for someone to open doors to C-level execs in the mid-sized firms and corporates who need the ForesiteSPA technology.
Proxicap was introduced by Roy Price. His model is based on finding great ideas and innovations to back. He sources these from individuals who lack the full capacity to take them forward unsupported. Roy then helps find the right people and teams to turn the ideas or gadgets into successful firms. He sought leaders for the brands in his stable.
Matt Cooksley presented Make Positive. Their pitch was for a Telco-experienced chairman, as their business model is now concentrated on providing billing software to Telcos. Their development strategy is unusual, as their speciality is coding on the Salesforce platform, which I wouldn’t have expected would be a good fit for Telcos. However, as these firms are becoming more confident using SaaS, it seems likely that Make Positive will be a rising star in this market. Certainly they have seen a dramatic increase in their focus on this area in the last year or so since I previously saw them. The claims they made were bold – with massive savings in time-to-bill possible using their technology. For a Telco, this means a reduction in bad debt and a greatly improved cashflow. A slam-dunk proposition, which the market will greatly benefit from.
Explosiva, run by Jonathon Lewis was perhaps best described as twitter for purchases. If you’ve seen something you like, whether that be a dress, kettle or gig ticket, you can share and recommend it to your in-app social network. I’d personally like to see more clarity from the brand as to its target market. Whilst I can see people getting fairly excited about gigs or fashion, the same is rarely true of kettles. Having a tight focus, especially early on, helps give clarity to a brand. Jonathon has done a good build, and the software looked slick and worked well. However, without more precision in his marketing, he may struggle to engage users. He was looking for people with a range of different skills to help develop his young brand.
One problem with the PfM format was that it isn’t specifically suited to tech. It would have been great to see app demos, and software screenshots mandated in the pitches. I felt it hard to get to grips with some of the presentations, and this simple tweak could have really helped. Tech is obviously a booming industry in London, so it’s great to see the PfM Brand focussing on this in terms of their pitching firms. However, a format shift is needed to get the best out of this obvious opportunity.
The venue was good but cramped, and the use of an ante-room for catering and networking would be an improvement. The food was excellent, with scallops wrapped in bacon a particular favourite of mine. Nabarro’s on-premises catering facility means no curly sandwiches at this venue!
The PfM event series comes highly recommended, and of course I’ll aim to be back next time. Pitching for Management are currently taking on new staff, so things seem to be going well for the brand.
As usual, thanks are due to the usual clutch of sponsors from the professions: Marks and Clerk (patent & trademark), Smith & Williamson (accountants) and venue sponsors Nabarro (solicitors). HR sponsors included Russam Business network and First Flight, who assist in promotion of the event, and also offer alternative routes for delegates to find management roles.