View from the Audience: The NextWomen London Pitch Evening

Investor Panel (L-R): Brigitte Bauman, Ashley Ward, Anna Sofat, Karen Darby, Dale Murray, Tim de Vere GreenGuest post by Natalia Martinez.

I recently attended a networking event organized by The NextWomen magazine. The event itself was an “Investment Pitch” evening in which a number of start-up companies had the opportunity to present their business plans to a diverse audience and a real panel of investors.

It was my first time at a The NextWomen event and an experience that I would recommend to any budding female entrepreneur.

I was straight away amazed by the venue itself. The event was sponsored by Orrick and took place at their office in the heart of the City of London. An elegant and sophisticated building with a nice bright conference room all for ourselves. 

The event followed a tight agenda, with keynotes from a female entrepreneur and a female investor framing the challenges women face as they strive to bcome successful in business, followed by seven startup pitches. Each presentation lasted for  3 minutes followed by five minutes Q&A from a panel composed of a mixture of non-executive directors, CEOs, entrepreneurs and business angels).  

In between the speeches and pitches were two networking breaks where food and refreshments were served. Maila Reeves, the UK Editor of the The NextWomen and Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, skillfully managed to keep the timing on point whilst leaving room for interaction and spontaneity.

The two speakers, Maria Dramaloiti-Taylor (Managing Partner at Geneva-based x.Million Capital Ventures and founder of the London-based Angellab) and Vanessa Valley (founder of the networking site,) were both inspiring women. They shared with the audience their ideas, recommendations and lessons learned.

The rest of the evening was dedicated to the startup pitches. Some of the ideas presented were very original indeed. I was particularly attracted to two of the pitches: 'My Car Gossip', a company that encourages young women to rate their local garages and driving instructors in order to help other female drivers maximize good driving experiences; and 'Artbeez', a multisided platform where children create and sell their artwork or related merchandise to raise money for their favorite charity.

The panel actively challenged each presenter with insightful questioning. It was particularly interesting to observe how they would analyze a business, bringing quite original perspectives into the mix and make constructive recommendations as to ways to move a particular idea forward. My personal impression was that each presenter felt  supported both by the audience and by the panel. It was a safe environment for them to share their ideas, analysis and doubts.

Well done The NextWomen, I am looking forward to your next event…..

This is a guest post by Natalia Martinez, Clear Sense Coaching, Executive and Career Coach.

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