First there was speed dating, then speed networking and now speed pitching complete with an open mic.
The Rabobank Group, a leading global financial services company specializing in food and agribusiness, sponsors FoodBytes!, an event that connects investors with innovators (a.k.a. startups). I just received an email that their next event is March 1st in San Francisco. The event kicks off with an opening reception (2 to 3 PM) and ends with a closing reception (5:30 to 7:30 PM). In between, entrepreneur wannabees have signed up for 3.5 or 1.5-minute pitches. This year FoodBytes! is experimenting with 60-second open mic pitches. At the conclusion of the pitches, a panel of judges will select several companies for rewards.
I reviewed the list of startups. Interesting/innovative companies – robotic work carts that assist produce pickers in the field, plant-based products, technology that will improve supply chain, snacks, etc. All the companies will give it their best shot speed pitching to get on investors’ radar screens.
I apologize for sounding judgmental, but I do not buy into the concept of speed pitching. Being a 32-year veteran of the food business (two major CPG companies and my own marketing company), I cannot accept how people can communicate the viability of their start-up in 3.5 minutes or less. Did each startup properly conduct their due diligence (a business assessment complete with a S.W.O.T. analysis), identify their point of market differentiation, write an all-inclusive business plan that includes time tables, a detailed marketing budget, etc. Food and agribusiness is already a crowded, competitive playing field. Any start-up looking to enter, should slow down and do their homework.
Do you have 60 seconds? I have a great new snack concept to pitch.
A few thoughts in my head at the moment… first, just because someone is participating in a speed pitch doesn’t mean they haven’t done “the homework”. Second, the world is turning at a rapid pace these days… honing effective communication skills in this environment is vital to staying alive. Third, and perhaps most importantly, this whole exercise would seem to be less about the individual pitchers and more about Rabobank getting a quick overview/preview of what a diverse group of entrepreneurs is working on. From that standpoint, it’s pretty brilliant for them.
Solid POV, especially your thoughts re: Rabobank.