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Startupbootcamp E-commerce Demoday 2017: Rating 10 pitches

Startupbootcamp had shaken up their usual E-commerce Demoday program for a bit. A new format, new speakers, but the same venue. At the Rabobank HQ in Utrecht, 10 startups from the E-commerce class presented their progress.

Just like every time we report from a Demoday: a little summary + some notes on the pitches. The pitch rating is ‘out of 5’. A little disclaimer here: this article is heavily opinionated. Ok, here we go!

PickThisUp – Arjen van der Zee (co-founder & CEO)

PickThisUp facilitates gig deliveries for ‘everything that doesn’t fit in a box’. It has “daily paying customers”. It is focusing on B2B-integration now, as “a solution for everybody is a solution for nobody”.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 3 empty trunks

SchedJoules – Wilfred Stegeman (co-founder)

Cool, clean pitch. SchedJoules is adding value to calendar apps by letting people discover local events. Stegeman emphasized they aren’t building “another app or website”, but an API that communicates between SchedJoules and other apps. The idea of this startup makes sense, however it wasn’t made sure how exactly people will discover new stuff. Self-learning algorithm? Please elaborate.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 4 calendar apps

OnTrack – Mémé Veels (co-founder)

The idea for this startup sounds cool at first, but at the same time conserves and maintains the concept of a popularity contest, even at work. OnTrack wants to help organizations find innovation by linking people to ideas from influencers within the company. Let this sink in for a while. “Because people inspire people, projects don’t”. According to Veels the startup is a “cure for innovation fatigue”, when people don’t think something is done with their ideas anymore. Sure – but there’s a solution to that: better get popular soon so everyone will listen to you, right? How OnTrack works in the daily practice of a business: it only became clear when I Googled some stuff. OnTrack gives continuous feedback to create happier employers. Why didn’t you say so in the first place? But then: where does the influencer part fit in? I’m confused.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 2.5 jealous coworkers

Salestack

I never noticed this, but sales reps have feelings too. Salestack wants to do something about the rejection sales representatives face every day. Of course, you can host a charity concert for those poor people. Or you can use Salestack so sales people get better and warmer leads.
How does it work? The pitch suggests it’s the well known ‘I viewed your profile on Linkedin and then send you a message not soon after’-trick. But then automated. What a time to be alive! All cynicism set aside: we get that lead discovery can be a pain in the ass, but framing the entire pitch with fear of rejection… that sounds kinda unnecessary (but hey, fear appeals). It’s not the end of the world you know.
And yes, at StartupJuncture we get these kind of automated mails every day. And hate them. So to be honest: I might be a bit biased here. I did like the confidence in the pitch. Especially the end: “as a business, you can not afford to not contact us” and “we won’t reject you”. That saved it.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 3 suicidal sales reps

Cymbra – Freerk Kalsbeek (founder & CEO)

Cymbra has a bold mission: it wants to create a fully self-steering supermarket. A great idea of course (hello Amazon supermarket) but still miles away from reality. However, the first steps are here. It wants to “streamline operations on the workfloor” by analyzing camera images and an app notifying you when action is needed. For instance: when it’s busy, the app gives you the option to open another checkout. In the pitch it’s said this was possible. However we do like to see the whole system in action, proving it. How does it work exactly?

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 3.5 fired employees

Immidi – Bartol Karuza (CEO)

I’m really sorry but this pitch made no sense to me at all. It wasn’t clear at all what this startup does. It was something with beauty products, hairdressers, something with competing for attention and oh yeah, a lot of marketing gibberish. And I mean a lot. It all sounded nice and all, but form over substance is never a good idea.

As I entered the break with questions from this pitch, I decided to give Karuza another chance. I spoke to him and asked if he could explain his startup in one sentence. He did, and now I know that Immidi is a B2B communications app. L’Oreal for instance can now send push messages to resellers and hair dressers to boost its brand engagement. Fighting for attention with push notifications seems like fighting fire with fire though. And what’s in it for the hairdressers? Still don’t know much more, but at least I know what Immidi does. Kinda.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 2 L’Oreal commercials (1 if it was just the pitch)

Clevergig – Michel Pilet (founder & CEO)

Clevergig is a marketplace for gigs. The gig economy is real, and will only get bigger in the future. Pilet told their startup pivoted to a SaaS model for businesses as well, letting them manage their flexible workforce. A great solution, because as a B2C startup you’re more dependant on the supply/demand dilemma. Great quote from the pitch: “We’re young enough to understand millennials, but old enough to know how to start a business.”

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 4 part-time jobs

Shelf Sailor – Miriam Bundel (founder & CEO)

This pitch wasn’t exceptional, but certainly not bad. Shelf Sailor is marketplace for storage. So you can rent space in your attic, basement or empty office. Shelf Sailor started in Germany and is also active in Austria. One question though: why the heck start in The Netherlands now? If you’re as big as a Rocket Internet company and take over surrounding countries, it makes sense – but Shelf Sailor simply isn’t there yet. Big plus: the startup didn’t call itself the ‘Airbnb for storage’, as a similar startup in The Netherlands does.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 3 secret basements

WeSwitch – Boris Schellekens (co-founder & CEO)

WeSwitch is an online marketplace for second hand goods. It’s one of those typical startups that start out of frustration, as the current experience of online marketplaces like eBay or Marktplaats isn’t that great. WeSwitch wants to make it “easy, safe and fun”. How it will handle the safe and fun part wasn’t very clear. This startup will be ad-free, and gets a commission per sale. Smooth pitch.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 3.5 sold IKEA closets

Feli – Marja Silvertant (CEO)

Feli started once as an app that helps you decide what kind of gift you’d like to buy, if you have no idea. “When going from retail to e-tail, webshops lost the personal touch”, Silvertant said. Feli now operates more as an online advisor, which they call “the future of online shopping”. At one point in the pitch, she mentioned Feli for insurances. As the algorithm can be used for more than just gifts of course. So the business model is B2C – affiliate marketing and B2B – SaaS/white label. Makes sense, but again: how does it work? Show it in action please and give some examples.

StartupJuncture pitch rating: 2.5 missed birthdays

Forget the why. Where’s the how?

So seeing all pitches, we noticed just a few glitches. But some were definitely in need of some stitches. Here’s where it itches:

Where’s the HOW?

Instead of filling the pitches with all kinds of marketing lingo and buzzword gibberish, please show the audience how it works. We get it, it’s e-commerce, but that doesn’t mean you should talk like the voice-over does in a commercial for health products.

It felt that most entrepreneurs were hiding behind their beautiful words. Please, explain your solution. Come to the point. Don’t cover it up by saying ‘here’s how it works’ and then mention 3 superficial steps in how you might get things done. It’s something I’ve seen for a while now – and that’s not a good thing. Maybe it’s because they were so focussed in getting that seed investment in the presentations.

Luckily for them, Coolblue CEO Pieter Zwart’s advice might come in handy: “Being successful takes 10 years, it doesn’t mean getting a seed round.”

In short

+ Slightly different pitch formats
+ Finally someone else on stage (Marc Wesselink) instead of Patrick de Zeeuw
+ The coffee this year wasn’t terrible

– Less smooth presentation
– The monologue/essay/speech/ about We Switch’s time at SBC. What we saw was someone trying to act like a politician.
– A lot of marketing gibberish in the pitches. Must be the world of e-commerce.

Image: Startupbootcamp

Lorenz van Gool

Lorenz is co-editor-in-chief of StartupJuncture. As a freelance editor and journalist, he writes about startups, innovation and (e)-business. Loves to report from conferences. Really likes cleantech and journalism startups. You can ask him anything about dinosaurs. Twitter: @lorenzroman

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