Friday, July 11, 2008

Live... and sucking!

Recently I did a Dragon's Denny kind of effort. A Bristol-based media-business company posted a contest invite to pitch, and I decided to go for it with RE:tie.

Well, I ended up on the shortlist! But now you can see how I also managed not to win!

One thing you should bear in mind is the brief, and this one was a bit loose. I had presumed that it was about the idea of course, but mainly about the money. And I know VCs don't get out of bed for less than £1/2M. Hence we had to concoct a scheme whereby I could ask for that much money, justify how it would be spent... and how they, and we, would not only recoup our investment, but then really start coining it. As it turned out, what we came up with, while not the only option, made a lot of sense.

Shame they didn't want to hear about the money, then. I had us on £10k per day for the rest of our lives after just a year. Remember, this was billed as looking for unique new ideas that would be of interest to major investors. But they didn't ask how that would happen.

Not much I can say. They were coming from a very different mindset in about every way. I can't believe that being 'smart', meaning wearing a suit*, is still an issue in getting behind an idea, but there you go. They also, amazingly, almost all seemed amongst the few so far who plain didn't 'get' RE:tie. Funny how so many in business, and especially when one gets to the business of green, operate on the basis of 'Well, I wouldn't'. I'm sure they don't shop in Tescos either, but most folk do. At least they were pleasant, if a bit negative, though I would have wished for more constructive feedback. I got what they wouldn't do, but not much on what they would.

Still, we now have some edited footage and it will get an airing. So possibly worth doing still. Not sure what I would have done differently. But still a valuable opportunity.

Off now to scope the other contestants in companion to see where I went wrong:(

Addendum - There's a blog too. Now all I need to do is find my password!

*Suited and booted?


I could have come in a suit. I do have one. I made the decision not to (a 'Bench' over shirt is still 'smart casual' in my book, especially on a hot day). Poor call, evidently.

It was on a variety of grounds.

First up this was not a typical DD/VC/BA pitch.

As I recall the main aim was to seek a great idea. From all my years in the ad world, great ideas tended to come from folk who didn't see suits as the main point of a productive day. And in the theatre that is presentation, I suspect most of my clients would have been a tad thrown to find a wall of corporate grey drones trying to convince them how to engage with normal folk... teens, kids, Mums, silver surfers... with their messages.

Of course you are also selling a business idea, so it is optimal to have a guy on the team who the money men can identify with. No such option. My bad.

But it is still a worry that the veneer still seemed/s these days to matter more than the substance. I guess such as The Apprentice and most of the UK's government and corporate activities of late have shown how tops the results of this mindset are for the country's fortunes.

I came fully armed with numbers for my financial pitch, if they were required. But as the judges were not going there, this was irrelevant as, surely therefore, was the need to look the part for this aspect?

We all make judgements, on various bases, so I guess dress can serve a function in this.

For my part, I am selling what I know and who I am trying to reach with what I create, and how I understand and identify with them.

Hence the critique from one judge 'Why would I want to do this?' was not a concern: I doubt a free piece of plastic that can save pennies (and planet) would make much difference to a suited and booted finance whizz. But I can understand why packaging for champagne bottles would. More his 'zone' I guess. Oh, did I mention that we had estimated payback of investment within a year, and then £10k per day from then on?

But it is a two-way street. I also need to work with these guys, and have confidence that they 'get' my concept, see its potential and where I am coming from. Makes working together fun... and profitable.

So long as they can prove to me we're on the same page, have a clear vision and strategy to achieve our objectives, I could care less if they were sitting in shorts and a flip flop.

Actually perhaps dress also more appropriate for a late-teen oriented design innovation festival, held in a converted ex-disco in a dirty room with stained windows, if you think about it.

So yes, If I am presenting to a VC in a corporate office or a retail board there will be a suit... if no tie. But I will have a guy in full Armani with me who will be. Here... it wasn't necessary or relevant to the task at hand or the brief I had.

Don't know if you agree on the last bit, but glad you might on the rest.

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