At Design Review 1, each of the Matter three portfolio companies pitched to a panel of 5 and a crowd of about 50 people. The panelists (pictured above) were: Hunter Walk of Homebrew, Deanna Brown of Byliner, Evan Hansen of Medium, Dave Gehring of Google, and Craig Forman, former WSJ foreign correspondent. A special thank you to the panelists for their generosity of time and insight.
Feedback, lots of feedback
After Design Review 1, all 6 companies got together the next morning to assess the feedback we received. The crew at Matter has been really great about helping us collect as many data points as possible on the content and delivery of our pitches.
The feedback comes in many forms: audio/visual, written, and interactive.
Lara records every pitch, and we watch ourselves on tape the next day, an experience that is kind of painful (I hate watching myself on tape), but admittedly, it is helpful. Additionally, we receive about 50+ feedback forms from panelists, audience members, and fellow Matter companies, that look like this:
The next day, while it is still fresh in our memory, we get together as a group to synthesize the feedback. This is the part of the feedback that is interactive. Prior to Matter I had never had such an in-depth or quick feedback loop on how I pitch, and it’s been a welcome change.
To start the synthesis session, Corey, who acts as facilitator, begins by asking, what 3 things must our company focus on between now and the next Design Review?
- We pick one company to go first. Everyone writes down their Top 3 answers to this question with this company in mind, on a post-it note. This includes the founders of the company. It’s an excellent way to ‘brainstorm,’ without fear of groupthink, since we write down our thoughts individually.
2. Then, the founders of the company we selected first to begin the process share their post-it notes first. One by one, they go to the whiteboard and begin to share what they want to focus on. Below is Prashant from Local Data.
3. Then the rest of us post our notes on the whiteboard, where the facilitator (Corey) groups the feedback into categories. The rest of us listen to what is being shared and can ask clarifying questions.
Synthesis + Accountability
You’ll often see cofounders of a company post similar, if not exactly the same priorities. And we often see common themes emerge — a need to more clearly articulate our sustainable competitive advantage, for example, or to test hypotheses that will impact our business models.
With 6 groups, it lasts about an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours. But what is invaluable about the process is that we are forced to assess and verbalize our priorities the day after a pitch, while it is still fresh in our minds. It’s also a great way to hold ourselves accountable to our friends and fellow cofounders. If you can find a community of fellow founders whom you trust to share your pitch with, I would highly recommend it. But don’t skimp on the feedback, synthesis or accountability.