Four Things We Learned About Startups and Pitching – Small Recap of Belgrade Venture Forum


November was especially kind to StuntCoders team. After attending Web Summit in Ireland we continued spreading the word about IntelligentCommerce in Belgrade. We decided to sum up all of our impressions in this blog post, and share useful advice that we have had the chance to hear during one weekend in November at Belgrade Venture Forum.

Belgrade Venture Forum 2015
If, by any chance you ran into one of the Stunts, let’s say, mid-summer, and asked how things are going, we would probably tell you that everything is great, that we’re super busy with our projects, and in general, that we’re alive and kicking!

If you ran into us last weekend, you would probably notice we are bursting with excitement, and we probably couldn’t stop talking about all the amazing things that happened this fall.

Also, we would probably be in a massive rush.

It truly was amazing couple of months for us, and, what’s even better – it is not yet over.

That is why we decided to sum up all of our impressions in this blog post, and share useful advice that we have had the chance to hear during one weekend in November at Belgrade Venture Forum.

This year, BVF joined their forces with Pioneers of the Balkans making it possible for startups from all over the region have their fifteen minutes of glory and make it to the spotlight.

Our mission was clear – deliver great pitch in front of Pioneers of the Balkans jury and hope that innovation and scalability of the project will be recognised.

Our co-founder @Dejan pitched the jury on the first day and came out enthusiastic, hopeful and happy.

Now it was upon the rest of the team attending to relax a bit, but yet stay focused as great panels, presentations and networking sessions were about to begin.

So what have we learned?

We decided to sum up couple of points that can be useful if you are a startup or thinking about diving in into entrepreneurial waters.

Here’s our advice on how to stay up on the surface, and make the best out of it.

1. Come up with something everyone will love.

Easier said than done, we know.

What public pitching during Balkan Venture Forum thought us is that your product needs to be something that everyone will love.

And need.

Numerous pitches started by emphasising what triggered the problem.

And it was always something related to recurring problems in everyday life, experienced, or simply noticed by the team members.

That’s right, you don’t have to be a techie in order to start building something.

Solve a problem, create something that amazing that everyone will wonder how could they live without it.

Then bring techies over.

Do you even remember life before Facebook and rides before Uber?

If you think that you have to engage in costly marketing campaigns, both online and offline, consider that problem solved.

It doesn’t have to be like that. But only if you have a product that will make people talk about it, recommend it.

Make people invite one another, write about it and share enthusiasm about what you have created.

Make something that will loudly say – you are missing out if you do not join us.

Probably the most important point is – you need to enchant your early users.

From there – you are on the road to a complete success.

To sum up: you need great idea, something that will solve a problem. You have to state it clearly, and ensure impeccable execution.

Things to ask yourselves: what are you building? Why? Who is going to use it? Who is going to benefit from it? Will you change anything? Will you improve quality of life? Quality of how businesses are run? How well do you understand the problem that you are trying to solve? Are you solving any problems? Do you already have users and what channel did you use to acquire them?

2. Pick your team wisely.

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions by investors/jury to pitching companies.

Who is your team?

What investors will conclude from your answers is several things.

They need to know that you can be trusted and that you are competent.

They need to know that you have built a strong team that is able to ensure success for both – your company and investors.

Why would anyone want to invest time, money and energy into a team that is low on competence, easily distracted by other projects or a team that hasn’t acquired formal knowledge in the past.

This is part where you have to emphasise how strong your team is.

Make sure you say it out loud that your founders are MBA’s or PHD’s.

Make it clear how many relevant and brilliantly executed projects you have behind.

Mention if your team members are doing something extraordinary, or have done in the past.

To sum up: don’t be scared to brag with your team’s achievements and persuade investors that you are able to handle their investment, that you can be trusted.

Things to ask yourselves: are your team members motivated, focused, decisive, equipped with knowledge and passion?

3. Is it scalable?

Scalability is something that was, alongside “agile” the most used word of this year’s Belgrade Venture Forum.

You couldn’t set foot on the stage without having concise answer to this question.

Think real hard – is your project scalable?

There is a handful of undertakes that are strong and lucky enough to benefit from the market extensively.

That is why investors need to know in which way is your project scalable?

Will you be able to use market or are you prone to giving up and not being able to benefit from market.

Is it possible for your project to scale profitably?

To sum up: make sure you are critical to your idea/business model/project.

Make sure you anticipate its weaknesses.

After, make sure you tweak and change everything accordingly.

Things to ask yourselves: do you have a business model that is appealing to investors? At which stage of development is your product at the moment? Do you have MVP?

4.  What is your market?

This question could not be missed. And no one can argue its importance. It is something that every investor would want to know, and for various reasons. Firstly, they cannot be into everything, no one can. That is why you need to do the hard work exploring your market. But not only that, you need to prepare well and know your competition.

Right after establishing that you have done your homework, investors will start the comparison. Why? Because they need and want to be convinced that you are their safe bet. This is when you have to convince them that there is enough space for you in the market.

Also, if you have created something slightly or no different compared to something successful that already exists, it will be hard for your to persuade potential investors that you are the right one and that they should try doing business with you.

If you don’t have the secret spice, you need to work much harder to get under their skin.

To sum up: do your homework. Know who your competitors are, how big is your market and how much is worth. Convince investors that you have find your niche and that you can be competitive. Show them how will you grow and do it in a concise way, with loads of numbers instead loads of words.

Things to ask yourselves: how fast growing is your market? Is it possible that it might be better for you to opt for a big peace of a small market, or go all in? What kind of message will that portray to potential investors? Are the numbers speaking on your behalf or no?

For us, it was a great experience and we learned a lot actually.

We got to feel that we are part of an ever growing ecosystem of startups in Europe and Balkan region.

We got to hear useful facts panel after panel, pitch after pitch. We got to network and meet investors.

We got to present our project and left the forum energised and even more reassured that we are creating someone that will change the way we perceive creation of online stores, something that is valuable and will change eCommerce.

And that is more than we could ask for.

Thank you Belgrade Venture Forum and Pioneers of the Balkans for great organisation and inspirational talks.

Our weekend couldn’t have been better.

We can’t wait to continue this great adventure and wrap up what has been an amazing year, in Zagreb this December when hopefully you will be blown away with IntelligentCommerce.

See you then!