LaunchVic teams up with Startmate to deliver free pitch workshops for startups: “Storytelling is in the top five skills a founder needs”


Startmate's 2016 Sydney cohort. Souce: supplied.

Victorian startup founders looking to perfect their pitch will now have access to a series of free workshops, thanks to a partnership between LaunchVic and Startmate.

Startmate is an Australian accelerator program run by Blackbird Ventures, and has funded the likes of UpGuard and Bugcrowd, both of which raised $17 million last year in Series B raises.

As part of the deal with the Victorian government-funded LaunchVic, Startmate will provide workshop participants with advice on pitching their startups, building presentations that communicate a strong message, and leveraging networks within the startup ecosystem.

The workshops will be available to Victorian-based startups and founders, and up to two founders per startup can participate.

This is the second accelerator program LaunchVic has partnered with recently, and may fill a gap the local startup ecosystem after LaunchVic postponed it’s 500 Melbourne accelerator amid sexual harassment allegations against ex-500 Startups chief Dave McClure.

Startmate general manager Oscar McLennan says the program will aim to help improve a startup’s chances of securing investment by refining founders’ storytelling skills.

Storytelling is in the top five skills a founder needs,” McLennan tells StartupSmart

At the heart of a good pitch is the ability to take investors on an emotionally investing journey, says McLennan.

“It’s ultimately about storytelling — what you’re doing is essentially falling in love [with a product]” he says. 

“Being able to tell your story well whether it’s to employees, other business partners, or customers is so important to your ability to be successful as a startup founder.”

Workshop participants will have an opportunity to meet privately with a Startmate mentor to receive additional pitching advice, as well as the opportunity to attend exclusive quarterly networking events designed to connect investors, operators and founders.

Through the workshops McClennan wants to see founders improving their pitches to attract better talent and investment opportunities.

“We want to see the quality and ambition of what people are working on, [and] we want to see that improve. It’s come a really long way but I think there’s so much more room for improvement,” McLennan says. 

“It’s about the people you’re able to attract — one of the hardest things about being a small business is attracting the best talent, [but] people gravitate toward ideas.”

The workshops will also feature deliberately fast-paced “roulette-style” pitching to get startups used to delivering concise, informative pitches.

McLennan says pushing startup founders out of their comfort zone in a fast-paced environment is key to pitch success.

“The intensity of that [fast-paced environment] means you’re telling your story every time. It’s so important to be able to do that … you need to do it in a place where you feel really uncomfortable and scared, because that’s a key part of the [startup] game,” he says. 

Aside from being able to pitch under pressure, McLennan says there’s one thing he looks for in all startup pitches: authenticity.

“[Having] authenticity and being really clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing” is key to a successful pitch, says McLennan. 

The Startmate pitch workshops will run every month and founders can register their interest at the LaunchVic website.

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