Innovation Factory Showdown: Snappay Wins!
Okay so you’re thinking that you’re a bit perturbed that you were unable to make last Wednesday’s Innovation Factory big competiton – their Innovation Night Showdown and you wanted to find out just who won?
That’s right, Snappay our mobile POS app startup firm, pitched and beat out all the other competitors to win the Contest and a brand new Apple iPad3 too!
But then again, maybe you didn’t even know it was the big summer scheduled event so here’s a bit of backstory on same.
Innovation Night is an event that our #HamOnt Innovation Factory runs about three times a year. Each night, there are local startups who attend workshops to learn ‘how’ to pitch, ‘what’ to pitch and to practice same with IF staff and their mentors. This works out well and about a week after this learning workshop and days of practice, Innovation Factory runs the big evening event here at MIPs….
Each night of that competition, there are judges who are local community leaders in startups or financing or are business experts and they judge the 10 to 15 presentations by the competitors. And each evening there are two winners….so over the past year and some, there have been almost a dozen local startups who’ve been “tried and tested” for their pitch skills and who’ve walked away with a technology prize like a RIM PlayBook or such. And Snappay won just such an Innovation Night earlier this year too.
But an idea came to our Innovation Factory folks that with that many past winners – maybe they could offer up an Innovation Night Showdown – where winners could compete among themselves for the top top prize as the best “pitcher” in #HamOnt….so just two days ago the Showdown happened and here’s how it was described by Stephanie Shuster, the IF Creative Manager in a blog piece here –
“We’re running a round-robin pitch tournament on a bracket similar to what you’d see in NCAA basketball, featuring 8 of our past Innovation Night Winners who will compete for the title of Ultimate Innovation Night Champion! The winner will recieve an ipad 3 and a meeting with Mark Chamberlain!
You’re sure to remember our finalists from past Innovation Night events! At Innovation Night SHOWDOWN we’ll see who reigns supreme! Will the winner be Topic Simple, Air Conveyance, Cool Canuck, sPECTERGY, nERVU, O2 Oxygen Bar, Hovr or Hamilton Roller Girls?
Here’s the twist – YOU GET TO DECIDE!
Each of our finalists will be paired up to face off (one will be on the “blue” side of the stage and the other will be on the “orange” side). They’ll each have 2 minutes to pitch their market pain and solution. Then, the AUDIENCE will vote on blue vs. orange! The winner will advance to round 2 and face off with a new partner with a 2 minute pitch on their market opportunity, then the audience will vote again. The two finalists who make it to the final round will compete against one final partner with a 2 minute executive summary, and the winner (as voted on by the audience) will be the ultimate innovation night champion!
If that wasn’t enough, we’re inviting everyone attending to join us for dinner before the Showdown! Rolly Rockets BBQ will be catering a souther BBQ buffet, complete with their famous smoked chicken, pulled pork, and beef brisket rockets, tangy sauces, slaw, beans, and cornbread! There will be a cash bar serving up ice cold beer and summery sangria. And to top it all off, Sweet Ice Snow Cones will be providing all-you-can-eat all natural snowcones for dessert so you can beat the heat and try as many of their mouthwatering flavours as you like!
As you can see, it was a great event and as a fellow who knew he was attending, I didn’t pay much attention to same….till 4:35 pm last Wednesday that is – at which time I got an emergency call from IF that they’d just had a firm “drop out” of the competition - Hovr – and could I “sub” in with Snappay. As a previous winner ourselves we were certainly allowed to take part but had deferred due to other pressing issues, but sure I said, if you need one more competitor then Snappay is in!
So it’s now 4:40 pm and I pitch in less than 3 hours…thank God that earlier in the morning, as a Lion’s Lair 2012 finalist I had attended our Pitch Workshops (ably led by Ron Neumann, Pete Smith and Robin Hopper) on how to handle pitch issues….so I’d already spent a few hours on just the same topics that I had to use in our Showdown presentation. So I went to work and in less than an hour had crafted our three potential different pitches…and took my wife Sue to MIPs for the BBQ party.
Wonderful, is all I can say about the food and the networking….the fact that I had to actually “be” on the stage as a competitor in a bit didn’t bother me at all….been there and done that very often when it comes to pitches and public speaking so I really did enjoy myself totally. Met some great folks again as well as some new ones and gathered and gave lots of biz cards too…and while I don’t want to try to remember them all, among them were some other startup founders too….like Jesse Rogers of TribeHR and Sean Snyder of Swapopolis and Rob Belchior from CityHall Biz Development and George Geczy of BattleGoat Studios and Julie Cole of Mabel’s Labels just to name a few!
And then suddenly it was 7:00 pm and the competition was on! I wont go over the various pitches by the various other competitors but it was obvious that I needed to be spot-on…and I do think that I did okay. Voting happened and as we slowly worked thru the various rounds, Snappay continued to eke past our competitors….and finally we were in the final against Nervu - a great local firm headed by a good friend Mohamed El Mahallawy and I do not have a copy of any video shot of his pitch that night (but here’s one from BizClip a few months back) but he was good. Very good….
But I guess so was I….and when the voting time came it was close…very close…but then the winner was announced by Ron the IF ExecDir…and yup, it was me and Snappay!
What I didn’t know as I was not supposed to be a competitor and was only “called off the bench” to sub in for a dropout, was that there were prizes….and the brand new Apple iPad3 was immediately taken over by my wife (I may actually get to look at it someday) and some cool new Mabels Labels prizes…but also in that prize package was a one-hour meeting with Mark Chamberlain….wooHoo! Now that’s a prize that is well worth competing for, eh! I wonder what I’ll be pitching him…hmmm….
So is there a lesson here? I would suppose that it’s really the motto of the Boy Scouts – “be prepared!” Always be prepared to pitch your startup – anywhere anytime anyplace and at a moment’s notice!
Thanks - and I mean a big thanks - to Pete Smith and Robin Hopper who really helped out big time at the Lion’s Lair Pitch Workshop! And of course to all of Innovation Factory too….the event in my mind was a real winner, eh!