My experience pitching investors at Hatch Match

On Thursday night (June 3), I made my way up to Columbia University for the Hatch Match event sponsored by The Hatchery. I’d never been to a Hatch Match, but wanted to get the experience of pitching to investors in 5-minutes. Bell rings and times up.

After the first two 5-minute pitches, I quickly was able to hone my message down to the bare essentials. I realized while I had my deck with all the bells and whistles, the slides quickly became secondary to greeting and the verbal pitch. What rolls of your tongue in the first 30-seconds sets the stage for the next 4-minutes and 30-seconds.

I arrived late after taking the wrong train uptown. I keep forgetting the 2/3 doesn’t travel up Broadway. That little mistake cost me meetings with AOL and Fremantle Media, but that’s okay, I hadn’t expected them to be there anyway and I’m so early, they wouldn’t come into play until later anyway. This was my first event and I was really just there to get the experience.

When I entered the hall, I was given a list of investors with their target industries, bios, and list of companies they’d invested in. I quickly tried to read through the list of over 40 investors, but it was made difficult because while there target industries were listed next to their names, the list wasn’t categorized by vertical, for example Media & Entertainment or Health Care. I think they could do better by listing investors under specific categories.

Because I’d never been to a Hatch Match, I didn’t realize that I should have taken the list with me to the sign-up area, where appointment stickers were flying off the table. By the time I read through the list and approached the tables to make my appointments, many were already sold out. So, I tried my best to pick one angel, one institution, and one company with some local NYC media & entertainment experience. It was a bit of a scramble, with everyone jostling to see what was still available.

The first two selections were more to get my feet wet. The third selection paid off in spades. We all actually know this person, because he is a vocal participant on this list. I wasn’t sure it was the same person, but I quickly went back through some posts on my iPhone and was excited to actually meet him in person. Really nice guy.

At the end of the day, this was my first Hatch Match. I didn’t expect it to be a big win, but I did meet a lot of people and gained some very, very valuable experience. It’s exciting to get in the game and run off your pitch to investors. What I can say is that you should be ready and be early. Throw out your one paragraph description of what you’re trying to do, then when the questions start coming, jump to the pages in your deck to support your answers. I realized that with my deck, it’s best to actually use a sticky or tab (between pages) so that you can quickly flip to the section you want to refer to. I hadn’t though of that before, but I know to do that next time.

I’ve also learned over the years that it’s best to pitch strategically to investors in your area of expertise. It’s really a waste of time to try and grab just any investor. Sure, you never know—but, it’s probably better to be strategic. If you do just “go fish,” you’re kind of taking away someones opportunity. I’m sure people took meetings out from under me that they had no business meeting with, but they chose them because of the name brand.

My takeaway was that it was very well worth it for the learning experience. I met some amazing people, like Selene Kepila from Care Data. You can feel the drive, passion, and motivation when she speaks about her products and services. I also met Matt Mankins from InAMoon.com, a service to “fair trade” content. It was good to catch up with Kwasi Asare (formerly of Bad Boy Entertainment) who’s working on a next-gen web app service called Fighter. Gotta look into that one and get a handle on what they’re doing.

On the periphery of the main hall were tables from sponsor companies. Columbia had a table to support their students. MTV Mobile had a table. And, Gigapixel Creative, a local NYC web development house, had a table too.

The end result for me is that my last meeting resulted in a follow-up. People with Northern European experience completely get the dance music thing. I can’t say that for most Americans. It’s really a sad state of affairs in this country, but that’s why I’m setting out (again) to change it. Hey, when Randy Jackson can starts a dance music label, that must mean that the market is shifting. Hip-Hop is over. The golden age has come and gone. Times are shifting to Lady Gaga and David Guetta, and I’m going to be there to service that niche.

Hope this helps some folks who are considering pitching at these types of events. I learned so much and feel like I’m really ready now to move forward with my plans. It gave me a lot of confidence to get in there and just do it. You just gotta get into the pit and make things happen. No matter how far you are along, it’s good to get the experience under your belt. You’ll get valuable feedback and it will help you in the long run.

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