Always a favourite of mine, TechPitch 4.5 returned to Pinsett Masons on 20.5.13, and below is a write up of the better pitches presented. Two failed to make the grade for inclusion, based largely on their inability to demonstrate clearly their value proposition!

Unlike at many competing events, the keynote was actually worth listening to, with @AlexShebar from Yelp talking about the importance of community for brands. In an example-rich presentation, he detailed what makes a community online (shared interests, not merely communication) and showed how to manage members successfully. As someone who’s really not shy to slate bad experiences on social media, I really bought in to his method and message.

@GetLunched was my favourite startup of the day. Real-world business networking has never been conquered by any application, but I felt that Lyndon Gasking’s simple and digestible concept was a potential winner. By making the experience fit within a lunch formula, it seems both accessible and attractive. Their fee-driven business model got a hammering, however – and I fully agree that strangling demand is not the right way forward for the brand. Without this gaffe, I think a prize would have been within reach.

I’ve seen @InputDynamics before, and Giovanni Bisutti presented an idea seemingly unchanged in both technology and traction since I last hear their pitch. The concept is to allow the phone casing to register different types of input, principally taps. Samsung has a comparable concept, with various kinds of wobbling, twitching and rocking to make the S3 do various things. None of those input mechanics work well for me, and I’m unsure as to why the ‘Softkey’ concept should be any different. As the judges pointed out, it’s also hard to get defensible IP on a concept which is little more than a vibration & motion detection with an accelerometer – a device already engineered for exactly that purpose.

@Nutrinoco was an interesting startup, which claimed to have 65K users. Whilst not all are active, that at least shows some significant traction. The basic idea is to allow users to plan meals based on specific nutritional & dietary requirements. That’s a noble goal, and clearly meets the criteria for a double-bottom-line business. The combination of uptake and a sensible proposition impressed both the audience and judges, and ended up with Eduard Ros finishing on the podium.

@TSQER was an strangely-written freemium solution to the problem of learning to code. (It’s pronounced Tasker, apparently.) Presented by Seyi Akin-Olugbemi, this startup has indirect competition from General Assembly, and more direct challenges from a number of other online coding courses and resources. As an investment proposition, one of their most distinctive features was an extremely low raise of around 30K. This is an awkward figure, as it sits uncomfortably between bootstrapping and angel funding. Perhaps taking this product to an accelerator would be the best way forward?

@WeGetQuotes was a lead-generation & comparison platform for B2B sales, funded by payments from suppliers to feature. The bold pitch was based on cutting procurement process waste, and reducing purchasing costs. Despite finding favour from the judges, I have to confess Steve Swan’s presentation left me wondering whether the concept was flawed. There are many quoting and comparison sites out there, and they tend to specialise in particular markets. The perception of impartiality is core to their success, and a model which is reliant on membership fees immediately unsettled me. Despite the competition and the potentially limited market coverage caused by the fee structure, the business ended up on the podium.

@WooWave is a competitor to Vyclone, and synchronises videos from multiple sources. The idea is to be able to pull together disparate video feeds into a single viewing experience – all nicely timesynched. They already have traction, evidenced by having sold a triple-digit number of licences to professionals. This is an IP play, which contributed to Igor Jovcevski’s podium finish.

The award of prizes combines the feedback from the Judges’ panel (consisting of lawyers, VCs and brands) with a separately audience vote. Woowave and Nutrino took the runner up and first prize respectively from the audience, and Nutrino and We Get Quotes were the judges’ comparable choices. Personally, I felt that We Get Quotes was too generic a model to stand out, and was also disappointed not to see Get Lunched on the podium.

I’ll be back to TechPitch 4.5 soon, as it’s one of the best run, and most interesting pitch evenings in the sector, and is well worth a visit.