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Friday, December 8, 2023

Pitching Competitions Are For Rockstars, Not Entrepreneurs

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What is the purpose of pitching events? To find the best startups? Perhaps the top entrepreneurs? If so, are they really the best tools for the job?

Afterall, an average pitching competition lets judges read a one-pager for a few minutes and then asks them to decide the winner based on a 3-minute presentation and a 2 minute Q&A session. With no disrespect to any participants, but even Air Guitar Championships have more strict rules, regulations, and practices while the World Conker Championships are definitely more fun.

Pitching competitions have become engraved into the startup culture, and it is even something that we are all being mocked for.

Just check the Silicon Valley TV show for the reference. Why? Because it turns startup entrepreneurs into rock stars, who are glorified for winning pitching competitions and raising millions of EUR’s, instead of building real businesses.

As a pitch coach, I have coached the winners of Slush, Arctic15 and many others, and I can tell you the truth – almost any startup with ambition and willingness to practice can be coached to get very far in any pitching competition, no matter how good their business case is. This true statement should instead be nowhere near the reality, but alas – it is.

There is nobody to blame for this – in the beginning, it was an amazing tool for building hype around the startup world, and it did help to attract many new founders into the scene, and many companies –  to improve their businesses as though practicing for events, you are naturally forced to grow.

Still, today, I would argue that most of the best companies out there – have never gone to and will never go to a pitching competition, as they are simply too busy focusing on their business. Unless something changes.

That is very much our intent, together with Arctic15, FIBAN, Nordic BAN, and the Nordic Angel Program. There will no longer be a standard pitching competition at Arctic15. Instead – we are creating a funding program for entrepreneurs.

Everyone Can Win

We do not want this program to be about winning or losing, we want it to be a tool for founders, and investors alike – a program that will help entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and to find matching investors that will lead to funding and long-term collaboration.

To achieve this, the program will take place over the course of several months. We are right now opening the application round for companies that are seeking to fund in the seed stage and are aiming to close their funding rounds within the next three to four months. There will not be a single winner, but instead – several smart investments into the best companies by a group of highly selected investors.

The process will also be different. The companies that apply will be screened in stages, given feedback, and a chance to improve. Once narrowed down to TOP 30, we will also start a proper and real due-diligence process in partnership with the Nordic Angel Program.

This will help us to identify 15 companies that would be most investable and we guarantee that at the minimum one investment will be made on the spot at Arctic15 by the Nordic Angel Program investors. However, we will not only encourage investors to invest actively into these startups but will also create a special funding program in partnership with Startup Includer, where all Arctic15 investors will be invited to invest into these companies and to show their commitments directly at the event.

To help the process further, we will help our TOP 15 startups using the Deal Room matchmaking tool at Arctic15.

This is not hype, this is not PR, this is not about your ability to act, or to make slides. This is for real businesses needing capital in order to go to the next stage. No bullshit. If you want in – apply here.


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