It's a little like the Final Four, only the brackets aren't packed with college basketball teams. They're packed with North Carolina startup companies.
No whistles, or cheerleaders either, but Thursday's Charlotte Venture Challenge still had lots of high drama.
Unlike most startup competitions, CVC was an opportunity for me to get my company in front of important corporate eyes. Just about all other startup competitions have you pitching to potential investors. And you do that in Charlotte, too. But the cold, hard fact is: 99% of companies that compete don't get investor funding. At CVC you also pitch to technology decision makers from the corporate world. That is very, very cool.
Finally, startups put their cases before the public. Attendees get to vote with play money, so there's a MONOPOLY board game element to the last round. Each group (or panel) selects a bracket winner. And while PRSONAS didn't land on Boardwalk, we did win our bracket (IT).
I'm excited—can't wait to get the press release out. But honestly, just getting selected to compete was a big victory.
Think about it. I made a call on Lowes, Ingersoll Rand, BMW, Hewitt Packard, Microsoft and more all in one day—over 60 corporations across the Southeast were represented. Their decision makers each gave me three minutes. They saw our product, PRSONAS' smart virtual presenter, in action. We had conversations over lunch and at the closing reception.
I got my foot, face, product and name in the door. And I won something, too! That's an unbelievable day's work!
I also made great contacts with other startups from the Triangle. In addition to PRSONAS, there were five highly innovative, local companies competing:
NanoOncology (Chapel Hill, NC)
Elpis technologies (Raleigh,NC)
SnapYeti (Raleigh, NC)
EphRemedies (NC State)
Track2Quit (NC State)
Note my new best pal SnapYeti with PRSONAS' Angi in the photo if you want to see how we bonded with the folks from home.
I learned a lot about PRSONAS, too. What do you say when you have only 3 minutes? How do you explain your company, your potential? How do you set yourself apart?
If you think startup CEOs come out of the gate with ALL the answers, you've worked in a very different brand of ventures than I have.
Innovative business is always evolving. The answers are never cast in stone.
CVC was a great networking event and a first-class proving ground for my A-game.
Would I take part again? Recommend it to a friend? You bet. Slam Dunk.