One of the goals of Razom IT is to give more opportunities for Ukrainian startups and entrepreneurs to be placed front and center of the New York startup scene. The Hatchery’s “Are You Serious?” pitch night, which has run in the city for six years, is one such great opportunity. Razom IT partnered with The Hatchery for the second time to bring a Ukrainian edition of AYS and showcase five early-stage startups* with Ukrainian roots in front of a panel of investors tasked with giving their honest feedback about the startups’ technology, business, presentation, financial plan, marketing strategy, and more.
It was a packed room — intimate enough to set the mood for honest feedback but big enough for the presenters to feel the pressure. Ideas were pitched, questions tackled, and at times, harsh feedback, swallowed. The feedback showed just how important good communication and public speaking skills are, in addition to a well-thought-out product.
Here are some of the lessons we took away from the event:
- Be yourself but remain professional, especially in high stress situations. Investors want to know your personality because in the beginning, they’re investing in you as much as in your idea. Everything from transforming harsh criticism into an opportunity to dressing for the occasion, counts.
- Work and work and work on your English. Being a non-native speaker is not a problem — a problem arises when your pitch is unclear and your tone is misinterpreted. It’s unproductive when a potential investor is wasting time making sense of your words and not your idea.
Andrey Sevryukov, Founder & CEO of AgriEye
- Don’t rush but keep up with the time. Time is money, especially in an investor’s world, so you need to maximize every second you have with them. Know when it’s best to be direct and to the point, and when it’s more effective to pause and linger when telling your story.
- Talk to the entire audience — you never know where your future mentor or investor is in the room. Reading off the slides is off limits and making a connecting to only one person in the room makes you look unprepared and/or nervous.
Sergey Starostin of OutPost Club
All of this goes hand in hand with knowing your company and product inside-out. Among the most challenging questions were:
- whether you’re aware of the laws, regulations, and required certifications to operate in certain regions;
- who your major competitors are, how you differentiate from them, and what greater value your solution offers that others fail to do;
- what inspires and drives you when it comes to building your company.
Overall, it was an inspiring night. There’s a lot to discover from startups with Ukrainian roots.
*The startups who presented at the AYS 2017 were: AgriEye (a remote sensing and soil analysis technology with a unique multispectral camera that brings high efficiency to SMB land farmers); Anryze (AI-powered call tracking for business calls that provides analytics to improve communications and scale sales fast); Gotyu (world’s smallest GPS tracker with global coverage); Hideez (a single digital key that fills out up to 1000 passwords for all your apps, websites and services); Outpost Club (co-living and co-working space for millennials).
By Ganna Sobolevs’ka and Anastasia Rab