I met Lance from NoTaLiHo at Wolves Summit Warsaw 2016. He came up to me on the very first day. Hours before the fierce qualification battle. He just wanted to thank me for the webinars that I did with the Wolves to help startups prep before pitch competition. It was nice to hear kind words from that guy. But something even nicer happened the next day.
Lance did not make it to the semi-finals. But that’s definitely not the nice thing. Neither it was for others who had their hopes high and… did not make it either. But these are the rules. As it turns however the winners’ delight does not necessarily mean losers’ despair. Lance is the guy who realised that. He came up to me on the second day. Despite the results he was not bitter. He was smiling. He told me he gave the best pitch of his live. He stated it was my knowledge and expertise that helped him craft it. He came to thank again and told me a story. He stated that once he discovered he did not make it to the semi-finals, he went back to the hotel. Down as you can imagine. But then he opened and email. There he found an unexpected message. From and investor who stated he rarely does that but this time he really liked the pitch and wanted to meet Lance.
Lance told me that was the moment he realised that when you pitch, you not only communicate with the judges. You pitch to the whole crowd of potential investors, customers, fans and evangelists who a can later on spread the word. So it do not matter if you win the competition. It utmost matters if you WIN their hearts and minds. The winner DOES not take it all. Of course it is nice to get $100 000 of the main price or the media package. But it is also great to prove the concept and to get recognition from others.
I remember one story of the guy who run the marathon bare feet. He did not win it obviously. He came last. Bare feet. And all the media was talking was that guy. You do not have to win, to win. I’ve worked with tons of startups. If it was up to me, everyone of THEM would get the main prize. For being brave, for being innovative, for being out there, ready to be rejected. For now, I can all give you a BIG hug, cause I love my startup children. Sometimes it is tough love but hey… that’s life. Life’s a pitch and then you die.