Reverbeo was a graduate of the 7th Launchpad programme which kicked off September 2012. To date there have been 8 Launchpad programmes and the NDRC has been crowned the 6th best accelerator in Europe, a pretty impressive bragging point considering the competition.
Typically anything from 100 to 200 startups apply for a place which if awarded entitles them to €20,000 of investment (15,000 for team members and 5,000 in expenses).
Out of the initial application group around 50 are selected to pitch the NDRC board, 15 of whom are awarded a place.
As a graduate of Launchpad I would say it is definitely worth while. Whether you have your product or service built or you’re just walking in there on the back of good slide deck. The initial seed investment and mentoring is a great way to focus and drive a project team.
The purpose of Launchpad is to get you investor ready allow you to reach product market fit and prove to investors that you have a validated scalable idea. Various different mentors in marketing, finance, development, and presentation help to hone your vision into something that can be presented clearly within a 5 minute pitch and has all the due diligence an investor will look for in terms of financials, traction and customer validation.
Perhaps the biggest bonus of the programme is being locked in a room for 3 month’s with 15 other like minded companies. Starting a company is a hard thing to do and anyone who passed though Launchpad will tell you it’s an emotional roller-coaster. Being surrounded by peers going through similar issues is a great help.
The Lean Mindset
If you haven’t heard of Eric Ries and the Lean Startup Movement, stop everything get The Lean Startup and take two days off to read it cover to cover. Eric’s philosophies on customer validation are very closely aligned to the Launchpad programme. If you are thinking and presenting that way it’s a very good start.
First of all the application form needs to be taken seriously to secure a spot to pitch. This should not be left to the application deadline. Download it a week or two in advance, print it out and take the time to formulate well thought out responses for each field. When it comes to submitting the online form this also should be done at least a day in advance as there may be issues with the form or it may not save properly.
Here’s where you need to shine. Launchpad graduates are known for their high standard presentations. If you can’t sell your idea to the investment panel they are going to wonder how will you ever sell it to customers.
- If you’re not good with slide design get help. Presentation Zen is a great book get your hands on it study it!
- The less content on those slides the better, if the panel are reading the slides they are not listening to you.
- Remember that the panel may have seen 10 presentations that day, aim for 3 take away points above everything else and make sure you nail them.
- Have your presentation ready a week or more in advance, leaving you enough time to practice (We spent a month on the slides and pitch practice)
- Present to as many people as possible and use your slides. Ask your audience to summarise what you said only then will you know if you are hitting the mark.
- Video yourself and get rid of the AAaaaaammms and any other ticks that you were unaware of.
Resources That Might Help
Make it Crisp (Bill Laos badly designed but fantastic advice about presenting a story and pulling your audience in)
The Pitch (I read this book while on Launchpad and found it very useful, delves into the psychology of your audience)
How to Pitch A VC (Dave Mclure from 500 Startups offers his advice via slideshare, humurous and apt)