Seeking validation of our business ideas

My lawyer recently put me onto a great mentoring and coaching program, supported by VicStart. Yes it’s true – a good lawyer can do more than just take your money and bill in 60 second increments.

As the website states:

The Mentre program, supported by the Victorian Government’s VicStart initiative, offers business mentoring/coaching support and programs for SMEs as well as larger businesses.

They offer three different streams, and I commenced the Commercialization workshop yesterday. It involves two full day workshops spread across a fortnight, with a half day panel presentation two weeks after the final workshop. In between you receive up to six hours of one-on-one mentoring from someone with years of experience in your field.

What attracted me to it was:

  • The ability to have experts and peers validate (or reject) our ideas, including marketing plans and financial scenarios
  • The one on one mentoring, which I have considered in the past but have never actually got off my butt and asked for.

Monday was the first of the two full day workshops, and it found me sitting in a small training room with five other companies. With the exception of one company, pretty much everyone else there was:

  • In start up phase
  • IT based
  • Looking for funding

Some of them had great ideas, while others had concepts that sounded like they were going to be REALLY tough to execute. Shall reserve my judgment until I see their final presentation I guess.

While I am yet to hook up with my assigned mentor, I already learned quite a bit from the first day:

  • My 30 second “elevator pitch” sucks. Need to work on that.
  • My longer, more involved “product pitch” bites. As I spoke I could see eyes glaze over, as various people either didn’t get the concept or weren’t convinced it had legs.
  • People don’t immediately grasp what it is we do from the name of our company
  • Our working tag line of “Online ticketing made easy” may be better phrased as “Online event registration made easy”
  • Demonstrating prototype software during a pitch is not necessarily a good idea (although this goes against much of the advice you find on US based VC blogs).
  • Some people may find our logo tough to read (although to be fair the resolution of the laptop used to display it on the day was quite poor).

With respect to my pitch, it is not the idea that is the problem but my current method of communicating it.  If I get nothing else out of the workshops, I at least now know that I need to practice explaining what it is that Trickytix does about 300 more times.  Focus on the benefits…..why it rocks……why our competitors are nowhere near what we are doing….you know, all the good stuff.

Over the next week or so I will be meeting with my assigned mentor, which to me is going to be the fun and exciting bit of this whole process.  Can’t wait!


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