StartSoc Pitch Pack & Judging Criteria

Business Pitching Resources for Tech Startup Entrepreneurs and Enablers

The Start Society is pleased to provide these resources for startups everywhere to use for running business pitching competitions. We have freely used criteria from major competitions especially SydStart.

Why Pitch? There are so many reasons. Here are just a few: To get investment, get feedback, inspire staff, find talent, find partners and customers, influence the agenda across all stakeholders and intimidate your competitors!

Please use hashtag #startsoc on social media as well as your local city/town and venue hastags e.g. #startsoc #sydney @iCentralCo

You can see all StartSoc pitching resources for entrepreneurs, organisers, mentors, coaches and judges at including online voting tools for judges and the audience.

This is a generic pitch pack and process that has been widely used but may still need to be adapted for your business and industry and other circumstances like the competition or the nature of the pitch (investment, recruitment, partnerships, awareness, feedback etc).

Criteria for judging the startup pitch competition (commonly called the battlefield or big stage pitch) will be like SydStart has used for multiple years as the largest pitching competition nationally in Australia plus some slight modifications.

  1. Structure
    1. Organisers decision is final.
    2. Independent judges or auditors will be normally monitor the process.
    3. Recommended min 5 slides for 5 mins pitch to cover the 5 judging categories max 8-10 slides please
    4. Organisers may allow up to 2-3 mins questions from judges or crowd at their discretion subject to time available.
    5. Single score out of 25 per company per judge
  2. Criteria for Judging by Category –
    1. Market / Problem – What issue are you are solving? Specific addressable market. Really. Quantified. Initial plans for long term plans. Then what?
    2. Team – What makes your team likely not just to be a local success but be a serious contender globally? Passion? Insight? Experience? Qualifications? This point is usually third but can be second or even first if you have a remarkable team because it adds credibility to everything else you say.
    3. Innovation/Product – Solution. Demo. Screenshots. Product. Differentiation. Secret sauce. Originality. X Factor. How it works. Evidence of data based learning and iteration. Unique customer insight. More?
    4. Traction – Data. Surveys. Profit. Signups. Evidence of Execution. Traffic. Customer interest. Adoption. Revenue. Insight. Ideally demonstrate not just traction but acceleration/momentum. More?
    5. Defensible – If you are successful, how/why will you stay ahead and not be de-throned. IP? Community? Marketplace Liquidity? First mover? More?
  3. Process for Judging-
    1. 3+ judges on the panel at any one time as a guide
    2. There may be more or less judges seated near the stage but always aim for 3-4 scores per company to ensure diversity of views.
    3. Judges may choose to sit further back so they can see the whole stage and observe crowd reactions and the slides and presenter from a wider angle.
    4. Average score (total then divide by number of judges) is used in ranking. This allows judges to drop in and out for long competitions as long as a minimum/quorum is maintained.
    5. Significantly outlying scores may be excluded at the discretion of the organiser e.g. newbie judges or
    6. Judges will deliberate and allocate a 1 to 5 score per category.
    7. Conflicts of interest by the judges and the organisers must be declared on stage before each pitch and ideally they will exclude themselves from voting on that pitch.
    8. A score of 5 in most/all of the 5 categories is the best possible but is very very rare.
    9. Zeroes (0) are possible and not uncommon in an individual category.
  4. Guidelines General/Other –
    1. We are aiming for global scalable success measures and will be tough.
    2. Judges will make allowances for stages of development.
    3. A 1.5m funded startup is different to a part time project.
    4. A two year old startup will be different to a startup weekend project.
    5. Remember: This is a subjective process.
    6. Total of 25 out of 25 is not just rare, it is pretty much impossible.
    7. Judges will normally rotate through the main on stage panel from a ‘pool’ located in the front row/s.
    8. Time is typically 5-6 mins maximum at major events (subject to available time on the day) plus 1-2 minutes for questions. Slightly longer (add 1-2 minutes) on pitch coaching and qualifying days prior to the main event.
    9. As a guide aim for 4 mins and hit 5 mins then milk another 2-3 during question time.
    10. Don’t always release the pitching list of companies prior to the event for a variety of reasons (privacy requests, stealth projects, official and beta launches, PR control, market sensitivity) so tell your media and attendees – don’t ask, if we can release it we will but we usually don’t until we get down to the final 10 and final 25 (numbers given as a guide only).
  5. Special Scenarios for Very Large Competitions –
    1. Notes: For multi day large events like national competitions, prior to the main day a screening panel will select the top 10 based on the overall criteria but in the interests of time they may only allocate one number out of 25.
    2. The screening panel will also allocate a ‘stage’ or ‘category’ (very early, early, regular, growth) based on their experience.
    3. This will not be used in directly ranking but will be used to ensure we have an appropriate spread of companies from pre-seed onwards in the case of ties.
    4. A small number of screening and pitching slots may also be pre-allocated to winners (top 3) of major competitions conducted immediately prior to the competition starting or prior to the final day.

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