Digital + Culture = Creative Economy

Preparing for the pitches

It’s day three at Culture Shift.

The teams have had a pitching session with Karen McGregor, CEO of Firstport and are now in the final sprint to develop their ideas for 6pm this evening, meaning that before long, pressure is about to kick in.

We’re going to see if we can get some basic prototypes built today and will no doubt see the teams splitting up into sub teams to deliver the pitch for this afternoon.

They are asked to do 5 things;

1. What’s the problem you are trying to solve?

2.  What solution will you build?

3. How will you get people to use your idea?

4. How will you sustain your idea?

5. What will you do next.

In consecutive order I’ve seen successful pitches execute these points in the following way.

1. Visually show us what the problem is, get it into one sentence.  We need to believe you are solving something not just putting some cool technology together.


2. As a designer, I’m big on seeing what it looks like.  A description (although good to be able to describe in one sentence) doesn’t cut it for me.  I need to see it. Is it a website? Is it a series of interactions or touchpoints that craft an experience for the user?  During my prototyping workshop yesterday we talked about the value of storyboarding, which is in my opinion the quickest and most direct way to communicate how something works.  Furthermore, it helps you to direct your design towards a user(s), pushing the team to design not for themselves or their technical abilities but for people.

To show a story you use a variety of methods.  Perhaps make a quick commercial for your concept, or a filmed re-enactment of your concept.  Drawings and screenshots work well to communicate this also.

One of my favourite prototype videos is from Glasgow’s Global Service Jam.  It was a concept the team developed in under 2 days called TweetBox.  Check it out;

3. In business terms this can be a marketing plan but can also be used to really show why people would interact with your concept.  My advice is to look at a focused, direct set of users or group and show us how you will get them involved.  You can show user groups in the future, using a concentric circle diagram that shows a growing user base over time, but remember, don’t say everyone, you won’t get them onboard when your idea kicks off.

4. Business plan.  But don’t put a document in the judges hands, they don’t have time to read it.  At Culture Shift I’ve seen the business model canvas kicking around.  Use this to get a grasp on what value you are delivering, and really think about your revenue streams.  Remember that selling data and using advertising models require medium to large user bases and you won’t have this at first.  If you get time, do a basic excel with some rounded numbers.  The canvas will help you to look at outgoings, your regular business activities and key expenses.

5. Paint the future.  Show the judges you are committed and you have the means to drive this idea forward outside of the 4 walls of the Fairmont hotel.  Show us what you will do in the next 3 months, 6 months, year, 3 years.  Show us who you know, what organisations you can tap to make this a reality.  Use a simple stakeholder map or matrix to display this and don’t overload the judges, they just want to know if they give you the money and support, you will use it to make this real.

And as Glen would say, tell us what your BEHAG is (your big enormous hairy audacious goal).  It’s important that whilst being pragmatic you also have vision.

Finally, and not on the handouts is who is in your team? Now, I don’t think you should introduce every member fully but with a rise in 60 second pitches for low sums of money, judges are increasingly making their decision on gut feeling (with a balance in the concept being sound).  Remember, they are funding YOU.


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