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.