On Thursday I went to the London Techcrunch Pitch! Event. Not as a competitor – I just wanted to get an idea of the standard of technology startups in London. I now know the standard is surprisingly high and I have a lot of work to do if I decide to try joining them.
The format was first a series of 30 second pitches by firms that didn’t quite make the grade for the later 5 minute talks – about eight of each. Afterwards there was a vote by the audience for who was the best. My vote went to TIOTI who were probably the only one who had a product I would consider using. Although it was very close with a few others including the winner WatZatSong who had a good idea and a very slick presentation. Only one of the talks I would consider bad (poor idea and poor presentation), everyone else was good and some were very impressive. In general the 5 minute talks were a lot better than the 30 second ones, perhaps because the longer talks were given to the more promising firms, or perhaps because 30 seconds is a very short time to get a point across.
The competition seemed to be open to firms looking for funding, from £150K up to a few million. None required seed funding. Many were up to their second round of proper funding. I think all had launched and some had significant revenues. In short they all seemed at the mature end of the startup range. Indeed there was a high incidence of grey hairs among the presenters.
Many of the people there seemed to know each other (or at least they went with friends). Before, after and sometimes during the talks, groups were talking to each other. At times I felt like a tourist, which strictly speaking I suppose I was. If I decide to become serious about this startup thing then I have a lot further to go, both on the networking side and the actual project side.