Kickstart for Women Entrepreneurs
Headstart Network Foundation
October 19, 2020 12:10 PM
Headstart was founded with a vision of “changing the world through entrepreneurship.” Two initiatives that took flight from this belief was Kickstart, an investor connect initiative, and WE, our channel to support the growth of Women Entrepreneurs in the country. Bringing together two great initiatives, this edition of Headstart’s Kickstart for Women Entrepreneurs addressed the significance of the role of women in business. It was a great success, all thanks to the hardworking volunteers who made it possible.
This edition of Kickstart for WE was in association with the Atal Innovation Mission & CIE IIIT-H, along with other partners: Microsoft for Startups, Pernod Ricard, Ankur Capital, Indian Angel Network, Lightbox.VC, Saison Capital, Dexter Angels, and 100X.VC.
Participating startups went through an application process, a series of engaging boot-camps, and a final pitching round that gave them access to a mixture of grants, equity funds, and corporate access.
The Application Process
A call to applicants inviting them for the program was sent out through social media. 137 early-stage startups applied to benefit from the initiative. Although each of these startups was exceptional, 20 startups made it through the final round of filtering. Half of these were selected for the Investor Track, and the other half were selected for the Incubation Track.
Consideration was given to their USP, their team size, and their age in the market. On average, startups with a distinctive USP, a bigger team with credible leadership, and between one to three years of experience in the market were preferred.
The Investor Track
In order to prepare the startups for their final pitch Investor Track, a boot-camp was organized to help them perfect their pitch decks. The selected startups were provided with two workshops and a personalized mentoring session as part of the boot-camp.
The startups making it to the Investor Track were Priyanka Madnani, Easy to Pitch; Purvi Roy, Arista Vault; Vidya Choudhary, Avidia Labs; Dr. Raju M., MayaMD; Divya John, Nature Loc; Saukhyam Reusable Pads; Abhishree Arora, Mate Rate; Vinita Navadgi, Proost; Ashwathy Venugopal, Avasarshala
Workshop 1: Refining Your Pitch Deck
Chetan Bhatia, Founder, Honest Create
This workshop by Mr. Bhatia explored the nuances of designing great pitch decks. Mr. Bhatia, an expert in bringing out the purpose of the startup in efficient and creative pitch presentations went over the components, presentation techniques, and tricks to make a better pitch.
An average investor pitch is less than five minutes long. The presenters have the burden to explain the current problem, the innovative solution, and the numbers that add up to their traction in such a short amount of time. This requires their pitch decks to be extremely clear, irresistibly attractive, and pretty comprehensive.
Many startups have amazing ideas, but they lose out on funding due to an average presentation in front of investors. Mr. Bhatia guided the participating startup founders on how to minimize the extra items on slides that do not add much value to the presentation as a whole. He went on to talk about how to display meaningful information on the slide in a way that is easily understandable and at the same time captures the attention of the investors.
As Mr. Bhatia believes, “the execution matters more than the idea.” He advised the participants to avoid cluttering their presentations. Too much information in words on one slide will make the investors disinterested in the presentations. The presentations should rather have
Throughout the workshop, Mr. Bhatia highlighted the key components that should be emphasized and the design techniques that should be extensively used. He also advised the participants to capitalize on the flow of the presentation and ensure that each slide seamlessly leads to the other.
The workshop ended with a Q&A space where participants asked questions regarding sending presentations through an email, time period for projecting their vision, and the optimum number of slides a good presentation should have.
- Use more visuals and graphics than words
- Condense the information: make it understandable to the investor in the lowest time possible
- Declutter the presentation leaving only the most relevant information
Workshop 2: Investor’s Perspective to Pitches
Shreyansh Singhal, Ankur Capital
The first workshop focused on what the founder can do to make their presentation stand out. The second workshop by Mr. Singhal gave a peek into the investor perspective and how the founder can capitalize on this knowledge to create pitch decks that capture the investors’ attention. It included the ‘must-haves’ and ‘must not haves’ in a captivating and crisp presentation.
What gave this workshop its merit was the fact that it was delivered directly by an investor about the investing point of view. Mr. Singhal was candid about his opinion on the key content that should be included in the pitch deck and its relevance in the presentation as a whole.
He emphasized that a good flow of concise information was essential to demonstrate the reasoning behind the purpose of the startup. What is the startup solving? Why is the traction where it is? What exactly is the startup looking for? These are some questions that can be asked to create content for the pitch decks.
It is also important to build the credibility of the leadership team, have a strong and clear USP, and make sure to convince the right investor. Display past experience as an indicator of future performance. What distinguishes a great pitch deck from an average pitch deck is the maximization of value in each slide of the presentation by its relevance.
As Mr. Singhal advises, don’t talk off the presentation. Give excerpts that people can understand. Maintain your ground. Do not give an unrealistic projection of the startup. Be proactive and ensure enough time is given to practice the pitch.
- Have clarity on the operation and needs of the startup
- Keep the content relevant and maintain the flow
- Convincing skills are extremely important
Right after the two workshops, the carefully filtered startups were provided with a personalized mentoring session. The mentors, also Headstarters, were Gautham Sivaramakrishnan, leading Startup initiatives with Infosys; Ujjwal Trivedi, As. Director of Products, MoveInSync; Akhilesh Agarwal, Fellow, Pi Ventures; and Harshdeep Gumber, Founder, Acculegal. Another Headstarter, a buddy was also assigned to assist them.
These sessions lasted 15-20 minutes each and were packed with one-on-one doubt resolution and quality advice. The mentors guided the startups on their pitch decks, providing valuable opinion on the importance of the content of each slide.
These sessions were different from the generic workshops because they gave the startups a chance to ask specific doubts pertaining to their ventures with a guarantee of keeping their information confidential.
Startups would go over their whole presentation and mentors would make sure that the pitch deck is as efficient as it can be. Thus, providing a space for fostering interaction with the startup founders rather than isolating them for the final pitch day.
The Final Pitch
The most awaited day was finally here! Over the course of a few days, the selected startups went through the boot-camp consisting of the two workshops and the mentorship session – all aimed towards perfecting their pitch decks. It was finally the time to test how effective these were.
All the participants were sent out an email containing the guidelines covering the rules of the pitching process and resources to help them prepare before the day of the pitch.
Participants were expected to pitch their startups for five minutes followed by a Q&A space open for the panel of investors to get their questions clarified directly by the startup founders. Each startup was given a 10-minute slot after which the participant would be expected to leave the presentation so that the investors could judge them on a platform called CrowdProduct that consisted of a pre-decided rubric. The process was followed for each participant.
Mr. Vinay from CrowdProduct explained the judging process using CrowdProduct that works by applying parameters to evaluate each startup, provide feedback, and to generate an automatic report from the data collected.
The nine startup founders took their turns to pitch. Each of their presentations was concise, relevant, and attractive. Adorned with confidence, each of the founders presented their pitches to the panel of investors in a race against time. They incorporated their journey of starting up, their current and projected traction, and their requirements from the investors. Five minutes was all they had to talk about their startups and convince the investor.
Some startups presented a demo of their website, while some others capitalized on their traction. Their pitches seamlessly flowed through the slides of their presentation. They talked about their professional background, the current and projected market, and how successful they were in the problem that they were solving.
The Q&A space made sure that there is a two-way interaction between the founder and the investor to facilitate clear understanding. Investors asked questions such as the opportunities for future product diversification, a better understanding of the product, and any other queries they had while listening to the pitch.
The event was managed very efficiently and the timing was perfect. Once all the pitches were delivered, the founders were intimated of further instructions. Headstart was the mediator between the founders and the investors that displayed interest to connect further with the founder. The event was a huge success and garnered a positive response from all stakeholders.
Here is a glimpse of the impact WE-KS has resulted in:
V. Aishwarya Singh
VIP, Headstart Hyderabad