Tech start-ups ready for Elevator Pitch Competition
Last year’s champion shares tips
Top 100 global start-ups are geared to compete at the Elevator Pitch Competition 2018 (EPiC), the international start-up pitch competition hosted by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation. Before the shortlisted start-ups compete, the winning team and a finalist from last year’s contest share their formula for a convincing pitch.
Shortlisted from 591 entries, a total of 100 tech start-ups from over 20 countries and regions will get the opportunity to pitch to the EPiC judges during a 60-second elevator ride at the iconic International Finance Centre (ICC). The top ten finalists will move on to the second round of pitching and inquisition in a three-minute session before a panel of judges and 1,000 audience comprised of potential investors, partners, customers, collaborators and consultants.
As the contestants are preparing themselves for their EPiC elevator ride in the run-up to the event, Prof Cheah Kok-wai, director and CEO of Cathay Photonics, last year’s winner, and Harry Chan, founder and CEO of BeeInventor, a finalist last year, share their experiences.
Meet potential investors and partners
The innovation that earned Cathay Photonics victory is “sapphire thin film”, now patented as ArmoGlass™, ArmoFlex™ and SaffireAR™. Prior to last year’s EPiC, the company’s invention that can deposit an ultra-thin layer of sapphire onto a softer substrate, such as quartz and chemically strengthened glass, had already earned them the Grand Prix in the 2016 Geneva International Invention Exhibition.
“Winning the recognition of a panel of professional and investor judges is a notable endorsement to the technology and business model. It will give potential partners and customers a lot of confidence going forward,” Prof Cheah said.
After bagging the top award last year, Cathay Photonics was approached by a number of potential investors and partners, he said, both on the spot and afterwards. It has recently set up a joint venture in which Cathay Photonics acts as technology partner, whereas the other partner injected initial capital. “We are also in talks with other companies on how to integrate our solution into their new products that were beyond our imagination,” he added.
But whether or not a contestant wins the grand prize, joining EPiC can still help build momentum for the business by networking with other entrepreneurs, creating brand exposure and gaining valuable feedback from experts.
Contestants will have the chance to meet other start-up founders that they can connect with, share ideas with, and may even collaborate with in the near future. When the start-up gets chosen as a finalist, the media exposure it gets through the organiser is rewarding, helping potential investors and customers understand the product and business more.
The flagship product BeeInventor develops and markets is an Internet-connected helmet. “The instant feedback given to our pitch by the panel of judges helps us avoid expensive mistakes and heartaches. After the contest, a university professor also invited us to his EMBA class to share our story as a case study. The feedback we obtained from the class, such as market positioning, is highly valuable,” Chan said.
Tips to craft an effective pitch
Prof Cheah and Chan also share their tips for crafting elevator pitches that are persuasive and concise.
Cathay Photonics summarised its “sapphire thin film” as “the second hardest transparent material after diamond on earth” in their winning pitch. “In the space of one minute, you’ll have to articulate your idea clearly. What problem is invention or product going to solve? What is the technology behind? What purpose does it serves? Is it market-ready? Who you are, and why you?” said Prof Cheah.
The most common pitfall to pitching is focusing too much on the research efforts or functionality, but overlooking the technology or product’s marketability, he observed. After all, investors ought to decide whether the project is worth the risk against its market potential, and why they should pour money into it.
BeeInventor described its helmet as a “smart helmet that significantly improves the safety of construction workers”. According to Chan, the cloud platform can be integrated with the Building Information Management (BIM) of the building site. The helmet can therefore track the 3D location of workers in real time. This saves the supervisor’s time from running around or talking over the walkie-talkie to assign tasks or deploy personnel.
“We made it clear that the market was short of a product like that and that our smart helmet would fill the void. In fact, the smart helmet is a versatile solution that not only protects workers’ safety but also helps building companies deploy workers faster and cut costs.”
This year 60% of the EPiC’s applications came from overseas. The contestant composition was diverse, with representatives from Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, Fintech, Healthy Ageing, Smart City, and Next Generation Technology categories.
Date: 26 October 2018 (Friday)
Venue: sky100, 100/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon