1 Million Cups 3/9/2016

Every week at 1 Million Cups is a new experience. On Wednesday, March 9, the companies pitching covered the age spectrum, from Corporate America to 15-year-olds. We learned about the optimization of the office worker experience with Tucker McCormack through his company, Roam, and the problems that unsure (yet, ambitious) 15-year-olds face when approaching the rest of their lives with Ajay Bangale’s company, TopScore Club.

Roam, notably, is not a competitor to the also Dallas-based Skyrise App (just getting that out of the way). Roam is an (inter)active atlas … a digital directory … a moving map. It creates an electronic experience in the lobby for passersby to interact with, for businesses to advertise on, and for the building to make announcements through. The Skyrise App is more like Facebook for office buildings with which Roam is open to integrations. Roam solves the inefficiency, inconvenience and uninteresting updates that buildings were previously making with their public signage, while creating advertising opportunities for their tenants and nearby local organizations.

So, is Roam a glorified TV? Not really. It’s an app that can be loaded onto existing infrastructure or implemented onto new hardware. It’s “hardware independent” as Tucker put it, and Roam provides the full package: design, implementation, and full, commercial grade, support through its in-house team and solid vendor relationships.

At the other end of the spectrum (think: high school), Ajay is creating a one-stop-shop for connecting with ivy league graduates, Fulbright scholars and people worth talking to about their careers. The TopScore Club platform combines test-prep with college coaching and “career dating” to help unsure, yet ambitious, 15-year-olds do better on their SATs and ACTs, get into ivy league schools and connect with some of the brightest minds in the world (that is if you like your coffee with cream and Crimson).

In seeing products at both ends of the age range, the community can learn a lot from Roam and TopScore Club’s pitches:

  • With projected slides, make sure that they aren’t too wordy, are easy to read, and are proofed — typos are frowned upon. The audience is there to hear from you and not read your slides.
  • Be clear about what you’re offering, who it’s for and why it’s needed. The when, where and how questions are much easier to answer when you’re clear about the why, who and what.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your story (the why your product/service is needed) so that the audience can put themselves in your shoes. It helps in boosting your credibility and celebrating successes.

The community is full of great resources to help you create your pitch (specifically the mentors available, for free, at The Dallas Entrepreneur Center). Yet, if you’re interested in the resources that they use, check out the J. Skyler Fernandes’ pitch deck (the featured speaker at RevTech’s 4th Annual Pitch Day and managing director of Simon Venture Group), Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on How Leaders Inspire Action (#3 most popular), and anything that Des Traynor speaks about on This Week in Startups. Happy pitching!

Debra has spent her career building, scaling, and managing operations in start-up organizations. Companies such as Inside Sports & Entertainment Group, SCVNGR/LevelUp, Visible Measures, and High Start Group have used Debra’s enterprising energy to facilitate their exponential growth.