THE PITCH A blog about the art of persuasion

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3 Lessons from SXSW Eco

SXSW Eco might be less glamorous than its springtime cousin, but that doesn’t mean there is any less excitement in the sustainable startup community. Here are our top three takeaways from the startup showcase:

Simplicity is still the key to a successful pitch

Sitting through pitch after pitch with complicated process diagrams is a strain on the eyes and the brain, especially when there is only 3 minutes to cover the entire company. The startups that really stood out in the competition were the ones that started with the benefit of their solution, and kept the explanation of how-it-works at a very high level.

Getting PhD’s in chemistry and physics takes time; the average age of the entrepreneurs at SXSW Eco was at least 20 years older than the fresh faced tech entrepreneurs that own the streets of the SXSW flagship event. But while they may be more educated, these sustainable entrepreneurs could certainly learn a thing or two from the presentation styles of their younger counterparts.

Take advantage of the medium

Prezi was an official sponsor of the startup showcase, and all the presentations used the platform. For the uninitiated, Prezi has many additional functionalities not found in PowerPoint and can be a powerful tool to augment presentations.

Unfortunately for the audience, most of the presenters merely loaded their PowerPoint presentation into Prezi. Instead of taking advantage of the new medium and its motion capabilities, their presentations looked just as stale and boring as if they had used PowerPoint on a computer with Windows 97.

Blue River, a company that uses tiny high-speed cameras attached to plows to quickly identify and eradicate weeds in crop fields, passed both of these tests with flying colors. Their presentation started with the problem, transitioned quickly into the benefits of their solution, and showed how they accomplished that solution by moving through a series of simple and visually appealing diagrams.

On a related note, Blue River won the startup showcase for Greentech at SXSW Eco.

Despite what you might have heard, Greentech isn’t dead

Though the amount of investment money in Greentech is down significantly from it’s 2011 heyday, there are still hundreds of companies in the space receiving funding this year. Companies like Blue River and others that presented are coming up with solutions to real problems, and thanks to SXSW they were given a great opportunity to showcase those solutions to a wide audience.

Posted by Sol Marketing at 8:44 PM | Comments Off on 3 Lessons from SXSW Eco

Topics: Elements of a pitch, In the news, Telling the Story