What I missed at Disrupt Asia 2017

So the team at ICTA did an amazing job running the main startup and tech conference in the country again this year.

Great people, interesting panels and most importantly some really cool startups.

Yet as I walked the halls and spoke with many of the startups, I found a few things that I yearned for in many of the teams’ pitches.

Who are you selling to?

Yes you do mention how your app works and what it does. However, if you also mention the context of who would find your product super useful, it will help others understand why your startup matters.

We need to know the problem space before we can understand the value your startup creates.

How many of them are there?

Very few spoke about the market size. Your startup becomes a big deal when your target market is a big deal.

The market may be going through some changes, or a new angle opened up. The exact target market may be super small, but this trend will be set to grow in the next X years. Thus your raison d’être.

What’s your place in the world?

What unique value do you add? What can you do that no one else deliver? What does the market yearn for? Add that into the spin.

The Big Vision.

If you don’t have a big, hairy, audacious goal for the startup, it shows. So get that sorted out first and own it!

However, sharing the vision upfront without substance comes across as you being a day dreamer. So generally at events like disrupt when pitching walkers by, keep the vision piece for the people who ask about it after you’ve spoken about the above bits.


In startup land, the only thing that really matters in the end is this. How fast can you execute.

So drop a bit of information about how fast you’ve done things, and how soon will people see the next thing coming out / next market expansion happen.

An epic demo

A scripted and well practiced demo is key to making an impact. Showcase the most important bits of the product and practice it before coming in!

Putting it all together

All this seems a lot to cover per each pitch. However, writing this down and crafting a casual sounding but impactful product pitch is simpler than you think. Example for one of the startups that was there at disrupt.

“We’ve built a simple hotel reservation system for under-served small hotels and guest houses.
Yes it’s a crowded market, but we create a website for each hotel that has integrated booking and host it. We have a initial setup fee that’s affordable, and a yearly subscription fee.
Unlike other booking engines etc. these customers like us because of the custom website (which is really templated out) and the booking system that gets integrated with booking.com/agoda etc. There are 10,000 hotels like this in SL and we’ve gotten 70 onboard in the last 3 months. We are going to attack south india next with over 100,000 locations which are completely untapped. Customers are super sticky so this we can corner this market if we run fast enough!”

Mouthful? looks like. It takes only 45 seconds (yes I tried) to pitch this in a casual style while showing the site.

So write it down! it certainly helps.