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Asking for Money – American Idol Style

04/13/2010

I attended CrowdPitch Monday.

Hosted by Funding Universe it’s essentially an accelerated variation of American Idol. CrowdPitch is an event where 4 start-ups pitch there businesses to a panel of  5 judges and the audience.  The winner receives about $10K of services (SEO, legal and financial) to launch or propel their business, coaching and practice, great exposure to angels and investors with real money.

For full disclosure…I applied and was turned down to be one of the 4 presenters. I won’t hold it against them. My start-up Thought-Tech has significantly more promise (in my opinion) than the competitors FundingUniverse selected…but I took it as an opportunity to amp up my “pitching” game.

Here’s how it works. Each presenter gets 7 minutes to pitch his/her business/product/idea. That includes 4 minutes of actual presentation time (accompanied by the standard powerpoint presentation) and 3 minutes for audience questions. Presentations are made, questions are asked, criticism is given. Feedback is capped by sagely statements from each of the judges. For their part the judges were either experienced entrepreneurs or active investors.

Then it’s voting time. Everyone in the audience gets two “$50,000″ bills to give to the idea of their choice. Judges have five “$50,000″ bills. You walk up and hand your “money” to the one or two presenters you’d invest in.

Crisply presented, efficient and seemingly successful. FundingUniverse is adding another variation called “SpeedPitch” – which is essentially speed dating for entrepreneurs and investors. In “SpeedPitch” 7 presenters pair up with 7 investors for a 4 minute elevator pitch and Q&A. They rotate and in 1/2 hour they’ve seen ‘em all.

I put my “money” on a small company named Vast. They manufacture pavers (bricks) from recycled tires. At 1/3 the weight, last-forever toughness…I smell green. Literal and figurative. Keep your eyes open for Vast pavers. Perhaps you’ll be asking for them by name – SOON!

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