The NextWomen Host Successful Pitch Event in Amsterdam

pitch event

Nine women-led startups and a number of mostly female guests gathered at Microsoft in Amsterdam on 29th November for a Pitch Event with a mixed panel of experts and angel & VC investors.

The event was organized by The NextWomen, in cooperation with Astia and supported by Microsoft BizSpark. Astia’s Simone Brummelhuis kicked off by announcing that the theme of the evening was "Gold and how to dig for it as an entrepeneur". The panel - the goldmine - were then asked to briefly introduce themselves and offer their golden tip to the pitching entrepeneurs. Their advice:

  • be yourself
  • be passionate, focused, have fun and think big
  • be passionate and realistic at the same time
  • look for an investor with the same ethics and of the same size

Desiree van Boxtel, founder of Karmijn Kapitaal, put these remarks into perspective by saying; "don’t be scared and do not listen to every piece of advice you get!"

First keynote speaker Joelle Frijters, CEO of Improve Digital, who started her company with a few people in a large obsolete office building (where you could rollerskate) and now employs sixty, right away shattered the dream that probably many entrepeneurs have: "do not go in it for the money, I would have more money today if I had continued in my job". Her lessons learnt: when looking for an investor, look for smart money, i.e., someone who knows your business and not just someone with a lot of money. Talk to as many people as possible, because you never know where the right investor is coming from and when doing a deal, keep some change in your backpocket, because the deal is never the final deal.

Keynote speaker Harry Helwegen of Business Angel Network, explained to the audience the difference between VCs and Angels Investors.

Angel Investors typically have made their money selling their own business. They usually invest between 0,5-5 K but not necessarily in one company, tend to invest locally and are more hands on involved in your company.

After a short break the 9 entrepeneurs each got 3 minutes to pitch their company and a few minutes afterwards to answer questions from the panel. During the course of the evening it appeared that the panel were interested to know from every one of the 9 entrepreneurs what made them tick and what their professional history was.

The questions to Kimberly Rothman of Idlovetodothat, a high end, niche platform aimed at women that offers lifestyle courses and workshops, focused on the market of her business,her marketing strategy and her personal background.

The presentation by Freena Eijffinger of Autitouch, which develops and licenses multitouch applications to speedup diagnosis of autism, made the investors  curious about the reaction to her solution by the professionals diagnosing autism in children. They were also interested to know what the role of software was in the future development of her business.

The investors wanted to know from Michelle Heitkamp of MicroMoments, an event based photo sharing mobile app and website, how she differentiates her business from the other photosharing solutions that are around and how she was going to market is. "Global" was her answer, "because I can only think global".

Carine de Meyere of K!M, the first, interactive, 3rd generation children’s experience in the World, was asked if she had considered teaming up with existing children’s museums and why she had chosen to make her venture a foundation and not a business.

The investors asked Linda Schulte of Preferenso, a people-powered service comparison website with co-improvement elements, how she was going to build traffic to her website and what partners she had approached to team up with.

Pat Polise of Mia Handbags & Accents, an online handbag company, that allows for the personalization and customization of handbags, showed the audience what their handbags look like and how adaptable they are. Their presentation prompted the question from one of the panel if they had come up with a solution for the problem that a woman can never find anything in her bag. They replied they had.

Questions to Lisbeth Chawes of Social Viper, a platform that helps companies to maximize revenue by enabling them to promote, sell, share and track services and products on social media sites, focused on existing client base, her business model and her plans for global expansion.

Ilse Huizinga of VocalJazztrip that organizes jazz citybreaks for singers around the world, got the advice to consider marketing  to the wider audience of jazz lovers and broaden her offer to include jazz related events.

Maud de Vries of VirtueQ, an innovative customer solution which not only gets you out of waiting Lines but aldo provides you with alternative offerings on how to spend your time, was asked how her company stacked up against the competition and was advised to seek partnerships with existing online ticketing systems.

After the presentations, the investors retired for internal delibaration about the best pitch. Martijn Hamann, investor and spokesman of the panel, announced that there were two winners, "but in fact you are all winners. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of all pitches".

Freena Eijffinger got the award for best pitch as far as presentation and information goes. The award for best pitch from an entrepreneurial, money-making, viewpoint went to Lisbatch Chawes from Social Viper.  The awards came in the form of sweet equity. Both entrepeneurs were given the opportunity for in-depth presentations with all of the panel members  and got an invitation to pitch at the annual conference of Business Angel Network.

Simone Brummelhuis wrapped up the evening  by thanking Microsoft Bizspark for hosting the event and by saying that she had witnessed a steep learinig curve with all of the entrepeneurs.

Pitch and pitch again and again, is perhaps the best advice for every entrepeneur seeking funding. This evening  proved how true this is.

This article was written by Marlies Brenters, an organisational psychologist, entrepreneur and founder of Personal Deal (www.personaldeal.nl, www.yourpersonaldeal.nl), which matches people to jobs based on shared values.

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