Imagine the eyes of 7,000 people on you as four celebrity judges prepare their toughest questions to challenge your vision for the future of your company. For those with a fear of public speaking, it may sound like a nightmare, but for passionate entrepreneurs looking to get the word out about their startup, it can be a dream. And for Steve Jacobson of Appinium, it became a reality when he took the stage last fall for the first ever Dreampitch competition.
Nine months later, as we prepare for this year’s Dreampitch at TrailheaDX, we caught up with Steve to find out what it was like to deliver his pitch on the main stage, as well as what he learned and where he’s headed next. Check out our conversation with him below.
Steve Jacobson: As our company had privately funded the venture, we had not done any pitching, so then to be selected to go to the Super Bowl of pitch contests was crazy! Being our first-time experience, just getting started was an adventure.
SJ: The format is so unique, and the audience size raised the stakes to an unprecedented level for us — there was a little anxiety. The pitch consultant that Salesforce provided, Lisa Tsou, was a huge help in getting us focused and moving forward. The prioritization was not terribly difficult. We needed to communicate the scope of the market challenge, clearly define our solution, crystallize what makes Appinium unique and compelling, and convince the panel that we’re the team that can make it all happen. Oh, and we needed to do all of that in 240 seconds. Easy.
SJ: The most difficult part of the process is refinement. It’s somewhat easy to tell a compelling story when you’ve got time and the ability to provide deeper context when necessary. It’s a whole different game when you’ve got to perfect a pitch without the benefit of dynamic feedback from your audience.
SJ: My biggest personal takeaway from the process was the power of belief. I truly, deeply believe that what we’re doing at Appinium solves a massive problem for a huge part of the market. And when you believe in something, it doesn’t matter if you’re standing in front of almost seven thousand people (being watched via webcast by almost three million), or telling your kids what you do when you’re tucking them into bed at night — your pitch is authentic and your passion to share it transcends everything.
SJ: The biggest business takeaway from the experience was the absolute need to create a defensible position for our solution. The panel’s feedback was very helpful.
SJ: This might sound a bit corny, but I was thinking about my family as I walked up. My wife and kids have been so supportive of me on this journey, and I wouldn’t have been stepping out on that stage without it. And their belief in me gave me that little extra bit of confidence and perspective that I needed to feel good about being there.
SJ: There wasn’t much that happened that I’d not expected — like all participants, I’d watched my fair share of Shark Tank in the run-up to the event. That said, you never really anticipate the depth of the healthy skepticism of the panel until you’re standing in front of them and made to defend your offering and yourself. It was unique.
SJ: Just one piece of counsel? That’s tough. I guess it would be to take the stage with a clear, compelling, and highly-defensible position (and not to use market sizing data from industry analysts).
SJ: A perfect pitch inspires hope in what’s possible and a belief in what’s achievable. And it doesn’t matter if the objective is massive or minuscule — it just has to be important.
SJ: What’s next for Appinium is more of the same. We started with a clear view of what companies are struggling with as it relates to enterprise video management. The reality is that video is the fastest-growing media format by order of magnitude, and that virtually every company will leverage it in some way, likely in many ways, in the very near future. And for those companies that choose to run their businesses on the Salesforce platform, Appinium will be their best option to manage and analyze their video (and other digital media) assets. So for us, we’ll continue to serve our customers in new and powerful ways, but we’ll remain faithful to our mission of being the enterprise video management solution for Salesforce.
Thank you, Steve! Looking for more tips for crafting the perfect pitch? Check out the video of last year’s Dreampitch below to find out what the judges had to say to all of our contestants in last year’s contest — and be sure to catch this year’s event at 12pm on June 29.