Digital marketing platform Creatively Squared will be representing Australia on an international stage in Copenhagen later this year, after taking home the top prize at last week’s Creative3 pitch competition held in Brisbane.
Founded in April 2016, Creatively Squared is the brainchild of Ruth Stephensen and Scott Thomas. The startup pairs creatives with brands looking to utilise more engaging visual content and currently has 12,000 creatives in its community. While it’s still early days for the startup, Stephensen says it is steadily bringing on several clients each month.
After taking home the top prize at the Queensland University of Technology’s Creative Enterprise Australia’s Creative3 conference, the Brisbane-based startup will now go on to represent Australia and pitch to European investors in the Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen on November 15-16, with flights and accommodation paid for by QUT.
While the prizes for this year’s Creative Business Cup competition have not yet been announced, last year’s winner took home €15,000 ($22,509) in prize money and one year’s membership to industry trend service Stylus, valued at €18,000 ($27,010).
As the startup prepares to go up against against international competitors on a global stage, Stephenson admits pitching still doesn’t come naturally to her.
“It’s quite terrifying, but also exhilarating,” she tells StartupSmart.
It was only through participating in QUT’s Collider accelerator program that Stephenson got used to pitching on a weekly basis, and this exposure helped her polish her pitch and perfect her slide deck.
This experience taught Stephensen she was “an awkward stander” when up on stage, yet being forced to constantly pitch each week meant she learnt to let her body language do the communicating.
“Half the battle is convincing the audience you’re not nervous,” she says.
Stephensen will be applying these lessons in Copenhagen, where her pitch will be honed to appeal to a global audience.
While Stephenson admits she’s “not going to lie” and say she’s feeling at ease with pitching on an international stage, she sees it as crucial for securing exposure for Creatively Squared.
“I’m really excited about doing it but will have to make sure I’m really well prepared and comfortable,” she says.
“It’s good exposure, and while we’re not actively seeking funding and finance, to talk with investors all around the world will be a big advantage.”
By taking out the Creative3 top prize, Creatively Squared also earned a spot in the Virgin StepUp accelerator program — a two-day mini accelerator based out of London. Stephenson hopes the accelerator will introduce the startup to the UK market, where it hopes to expand in future.
“London will be particularly good for us — the UK has the fourth highest concentration of creatives in our [Creatively Squared] community,” she says.
“It will be a very natural progression after Australia.”
How to perfect your pitch
Practice makes perfect when preparing to pitch, says Stephensen, who encourages startups to put themselves out there and get as much experience as possible.
“Pitch it to everyone you know; everyone gives you different feedback and it’s good to find out what parts of the narrative people don’t understand,” she says.
“Whether it’s your mum or your boss, it’s really good to get a variety of feedback.”
Stephensen also says the best way to hone a pitch isn’t in the bathroom mirror, but in the real world.
“You just need to get up and give it a go,” she says.
“At the end of the day no one knows your business better than you do. Turn up to open pitch nights, put yourself out there and have a crack.”
Having passion and a real excitement for the problem your solving is crucial, Stephensen says, and if you have this, the rest of the parts will follow.
“The most important thing is allowing the passion you have for your own business to shine through,” she advises.