Pitch competitions are the worst
It’s been about 2 years since We&Co was active in the “pitch circuit”. I say circuit because these days it seems everyone, from the Metro Chamber of Commerce to Coca-Cola to your local church, has a pitch competition of some kind.
Generally speaking, I don’t have a huge beef with pitches. At the very beginning of your company, pitches have the affect of helping you refine your vision. It gets you to speaking more fluidly about who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.
That said, there does seem to be a trend (that we fell victim to) of chasing after pitches. There’s money to be had! Connections galore! You’ll meet cool and interesting people YAAAAY!
The reality is a small percentage of startups actually win any money
You won’t meet anyone except the goofballs you pitch against every other competition (well I did shake Steve Case’s hand once)
And the ultimate problem is you end up crafting pitches that meet the demands of each competition. I have a dropbox folder with about 2 dozen different pitches. They tell slightly different stories depending on who the judges were. Some were super short (like the 60 second pitch we gave at SXSW in 2012). Others are 10 minutes. And every increment in between.
My point is that we ended up spending HUNDREDS of hours chasing something elusive and now, in hindsight, we realize it had virtually little value (except the free beer. that was cool).
Do one, maybe two competitions while you refine your vision and story. Once you’ve figured out who you are, screw that shit. Go build a business.