• What Do Hipster Beards, Perfect Pitches, and “Self-Directed Do-It-Yourselfers” Have in Common?  
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What Do Hipster Beards, Perfect Pitches, and “Self-Directed Do-It-Yourselfers” Have in Common?

… They all have been covered at main incubator’s 8th edition of “Between the Towers” – the event where the FinTech scene meets up monthly in Frankfurt, Germany. Admittedly, that is an interesting mix of buzz words. But the speakers managed to get all of them in there in a meaningful way.

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#hipsterbeards
Christian Hoppe, Founder Director of Commerzbank’s very own FinTech incubator, opened the event pitching the coolness of hipster beards. Surely not what the audience would have expected, but they liked it, and the real pitches were yet to come anyways! #hipsterbanking

stage

#perfectpitch
In contrast, I believe the expectations for Christian Nagel’s introductory keynote about “the perfect pitch” were fairly high for a few reasons. First, Christian is Co-Founder and Partner of Earlybird, and has over 20 years entrepreneurial and investment experience. In addition, “the perfect pitch” is a topic that returns millions of results on Google, and is a topic a lot of people are familiar with and feel they have a good understanding of.

In the past twelve months, Christian explained that Earlybird received ~3500 emails from people looking for VC funds, held about 300 pitch meetings, and in the end, closed eleven deals. A whopping 0.3%. This does not mean that only eleven pitches were good, but it definitely means that eleven pitches did something particularly right. Here’s a brief summary of Christian Nagel’s key statements and recommendations:

  1. UNICORNS – Yes, VCs are always looking for unicorns, knowing that not all investments will pay off in the end. You need a clear goal and believe in yourself!
  2. PEOPLE – VCs invest in people, not only ideas. Character and charisma are absolutely critical. Show them what you’ve got!
  3. DUE DILIGENCE – The VC and the startup company close a temporary marriage, so it is important for startups to do research on the potential future partner. Find out if you want to work with that VC. Every coin has two sides.
  4. ELEVATOR PITCH – Have a perfect 20-second pitch ready, based on ONE key message (ask marketers for help). Be as clear as possible.
  5. PERFECT PITCH DECK – Prepare 10-12 meaningful slides describing your idea, the problem you are solving, KPIs, forward and backward lock-in effects, etc. Stay focused.

unicorn

As you can imagine, after a presentation about the perfect pitch by one of the most regarded international investors, having to actually pitch is probably the most difficult task one can think of – #nopressure. But the startups did a terrific job:

  • FINTECTSYSTEMS presented its solution offering real-time online credit approval / lending
  • DECIMO introduced their platform offering factoring for freelancers
  • EMENTEXX spoke about how they want to revolutionize banking with the introduction of dynamic bank account numbers
  • GINMON presented their investment solution for people unfamiliar with the capital market (there are not many “self-directed do-it-yourselfers” out there, according to Lars Reiner, CEO of Ginmon)

However, my personal highlight of the evening – with no disrespect to the pitches at all – actually happened off-stage! Anna Luise Sulimma from TrendSketcher captured the outcome of the talks visually LIVE in a so-called graphic recording. It was absolutely cool to witness, and a great addition to another fantastic Between the Towers event.

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