Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2016: what the judges are looking for
Andy Fishburn is Head of Investment at Virgin StartUp, and one of the judges of Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2016. He’s looking for the best UK startups, and won’t just be judging – he’ll also be setting a Guinness World Record for the longest ever pitch-a-thon, with businesses pitching to him non-stop over a staggering twenty-nine consecutive hours.
We’ve asked Andy for what he’s looking for in a startup pitch, and Andy will be sharing more insight on 19th April over on @vmbusiness on the hashtag #TwitterTakeover – so get your questions ready. Reckon you’ve got what it takes? There’s still time to register, and win the chance to pitch to Rich.
It seems like a no-brainer, but the most successful startups are the ones whose passion for their business comes across in everything they do. Startups who live, breathe and eat their product, who truly believe in it, and are in it for the long-game – not just because they like the idea of becoming the next Uber, or making a quick buck.
Unique selling point
What’s that one thing your business has that sets it apart from everything else? What’s your secret sauce? Every good business has one, so make sure you know what yours is, and that you communicate it effectively.
Behind every great startup there’s a great story – it becomes part of your mythology, your brand, and your journey. Telling your startup story is a brilliant way to get people engaged with your product. Try to do better than “I saw a gap in the market and thought, yeah, okay.” What was the specific lightbulb moment? What was your process like to get where you are today – did you overcome barriers, invent something cool, sleep on an airbed for months like the Air BnB guys? Get me emotionally invested in your story.
You’ve done your homework
Anyone can have a great idea, but I want to see that you’ve started to turn it into a reality. This doesn’t necessarily mean a prototype or even an existing customer base, but it does mean that you’ve done some market research, you’re validating your idea, you’re scoping out the demand for your product and what you need to do to make it happen.
Potential to scale up
Startups don’t stay startups forever – at some point it’s time to spread your wings. Businesses with growth potential will always make me prick up my ears. You don’t have to have plans to grow imminently, maybe not even for years and years. But is your idea scalable, or is it self-limiting? It doesn’t need to have aspirations to be the next Google, but everyone loves a game-changer – especially us.
Determination is what has your back when point numero uno, passion, is running a bit low (it happens to the best of startups). Determination will keep you pressing on even when the world feels against you. Have you handed out flyers for hours to uninterested commuters, been rejected what feels like countless times by investors but always popped back up, or solved what seemed like an insurmountable problem with sheer force of will? These are the things that make an entrepreneur, even if they’re not the most pleasant experience at the time.