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With all the formats for “pitching” your company around St. Louis, how is an entrepreneur supposed to know where to pitch, and more importantly, when to pitch for the best outcomes?
That’s how many minutes you get to pitch at these three venues: 1 Million Cups, House of Genius, and Missouri Venture Forum’s Fast Pitch. These are the best places in town to build early awareness of your company, get feedback, and practice your pitch in front of a friendly crowd.
Startup Elevator Pitch Events: Going up to 7, 5 or 2?
Bookmark this handy guide, or stick it on your office fridge. When you’re looking for feedback on your idea, or facing a problem, or seeking money… check it out and you’ll know where to turn.
This list isn’t only for entrepreneurs; the audience is just as important. These events are open to the community and great places to connect with our innovators.
1 Million Cups
1 Million Cups (1MC) features the 7-minute pitch by early-stage entrepreneurs. This general pitch gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to introduce their company, the problem they are solving, and ask the community for help or connections.
A typical 1MC presenting company is beyond idea or concept stage and is ready to introduce a clearly-defined product or service and get feedback on target markets, business models and other key areas. The audience of 20-30 people will ask questions, offer feedback, and suggest connections that could help the entrepreneur.
The audience comes from across the community. They are a range of fellow business owners, support services, mentors, students, and more.
Expect a supportive environment with direct questions and people willing to make introductions to help you. 1MC is a great place to meet others in the startup community.
1MC is held every Wednesday morning at 9:00 on the 5th floor at T-REX (911 Washington Ave, Downtown). It is open to the public. Everyone can show up to hear the pitch, grab a cup of coffee, and share feedback with that day’s entrepreneur. It always wraps by 10:00, and you’re on to the rest of your day.
Learn more about 1 Million Cups and sign up to present at https://www.1millioncups.com/stlouis
House of Genius
House of Genius is home to the 5-minute pitch. Whether your company is initially entering the market or is further along, you will inevitably have issues and opportunities to consider. You need a place to get different perspectives on those choices.
House of Genius is best described as “a focus group meets a mentoring session”. An audience of 15-20 people from across the region listens to the 5-minute pitch, which describes the problem or opportunity that the entrepreneur is contemplating for his/her company.
The pitch ends with a specific question posed to the group. This is not a technical advisory group aimed at a specific industry. Questions typically focus on the business, marketing opportunities, market expansion, etc. For example:
- “How/when do we scale production?”
- “What other markets should we consider for this product or service?”
- “Do we expand into a new opportunity or focus on our existing business?”
There is a specific format for House, and every person in the room participates in giving feedback.
The audience is drawn from different backgrounds, well beyond the startup community, with an aim for diversity across demographics, gender, race, geography, and professional experience.
The moderator keeps the fast-paced feedback and discussion moving. After working on that startup’s question for 45 minutes, it’s time for the next presentation. A total of three presentations are given at each House, followed by continued open conversation at the end of the evening at the bar next door.
There’s a little twist to the evening – all attendees use first names only and don’t mention jobs or professional backgrounds. Yes, it’s true that you won’t know most of the people in the room. Yes, it’s a little uncomfortable at first, as you realize that you can’t ask “So, what do you do?”
It gives everyone a chance to get to know each other for who you are, rather than what you do. After several hours of talking with each other, you’ll be even more intrigued about your fellow panelists. We wrap up the evening by introducing ourselves, and you’ll always be surprised by the range of backgrounds in the room.
It’s the Third Thursday… that means it’s House of Genius night here is St. Louis! pic.twitter.com/lx6Q4mYzMX
— House of Genius STL (@GeniusSTL) May 17, 2018
House of Genius is held on the third Thursday of the month, from 6-9pm at CIC@CET (20 S. Sarah Street in the Cortex community). You need to attend the entire evening, and plan to stay afterwards to continue conversations at Scottish Arms next door.
Presenters work with the prep team to define their question. This isn’t a general pitch, and specific information may need to be included that is relevant to the issue / opportunity being presented. It’s also a great chance to present to an audience outside the startup community.
House works well for a range of companies, including high tech, high growth, traditional small business, not-for-profits, and community projects.
Due to the small, curated format of the evening, all participants are invited for a specific evening. No, you don’t have to be a “genius” to attend. The genius is the combined effort of the group that evening.
If you’re interested in presenting your company or participating in the audience, sign up at http://houseofgenius.org/location/st-louis/
Missouri Venture Forum’s Fast Pitch Program
Once your company is in the market and/or raising money, you’re ready for the Missouri Venture Forum (MVF) Fast Pitch Program. The Fast Pitch is a refined 2-minute pitch, aimed at getting investors interested in your company.
The Fast Pitch Program was recently reactivated as a path for introducing investor-ready startups to the St. Louis business community. The mix of members at MVF works with startups, has friends and colleagues that invest, and can introduce your company to a broader audience in the region. This is a great place to practice your pitch and build awareness that your company is seeking funding.
MVF teaches each entrepreneur how to do a 2-minute investor pitch, working with their committee members that specialize in this area. You get feedback on your pitch and practice time before being scheduled to present at a MVF meeting. They also discuss key items to consider in talking to a group when raising funds.
Missouri Venture Forum is a membership organization, with breakfast meetings held on the first Friday of the month. Two companies pitch at the end of each meeting. Most meetings are held at Vue 17 at University Club Towers at 1034 S. Brentwood Blvd. Vue 17 is across from The Galleria shopping center, with convenient access to I-64 and I-170. Additional education and social events are held throughout the year.