Las Vegas is hardly Silicon Valley and currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, but Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has a plan to revitalize the city. Good thing he has hundreds of million of dollars and some promising startups to help out.
The most talked-about thing at last week’s TechCrunch50 conference for startups seemed to be not a company but a single comment from one of the judges, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who lamented, “I didn’t see anything that was trying to change the world,” prompting numerous blog posts and discussions.
Leave aside for a moment the observation that what changes the world typically doesn’t come across that way at first. (I doubt Twitter’s founders mentioned during their initial pitches to VCs that their service would be useful in sowing public dissent in Iran.) Hsieh’s complaint boiled down to this: A lot of the startups were offering incremental improvements to existing ideas rather than disruptive propositions.
[qi:012] Startups looking for VC funding need to make two things crystal clear when pitching to investors: One, how your company plans to distribute your product or services to the masses; and two, why it’s going to shake up the tech industry. That’s the advice offered up by the panels of venture capitalists and tech executives to startups that presented at the TechCrunch 50 conference this week.
While during a demo, startups have to explain what their offering is and how it works, that’s only one part of a successful pitch. “There’s been a lack of focus on distribution,” said Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and now the head of a $300 million venture fund. “The typical path a lot of startups take is they launch their product and no one finds out about it.” They also need to do a better job explaining how they’re going to catalyze the industry. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s put it after viewing demos, “I didn’t see anything where I thought ‘Oh wow, I think this will change the world.'” Read More about How Startups Can Win Big With VCs
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