Well, that was…interesting.
Two nights ago, I was part of the PayPal StartTank “Reverse Pitch Smackdown.” Man, that was a totally new experience and a bit of a head rush.
First, some context. You may have read about the cool stuff PayPal Boston is doing (there’s a great VentureFizz article here), housing 23 start-ups and building a really cool vibe at their new Boston office. Think: energy, sleek conference rooms, and a common kitchen area.
But, I think what sets it apart is the genuine warmth and inclusiveness that comes from David Chang, the PayPal Media Network COO. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know David socially and he truly is the entrepreneur’s best friend. He’s funny, connected, open-minded and wants to help people.
Now, the “Smackdown” is an event whereby a VC or angel investor meets with a start-up for 15 minutes and then “pitches” that company to a group of five judges. And, about 300 other people. There’s some hooting and some hollering, and the judges cast their vote with a Roman Colosseum-style thumbs up/down.
Fortunately, I was paired with CO Everywhere, which is a hyper-local mobile product that I serendipitously downloaded that very morning. CEO Tony Longo and Community Manager Sara Bendetson did a great job of briefing me.
As for my pitch, I was given the “he lives” vote, but barely. Sara saved me by doing a great product demo. David’s advice to me was to just be funny, since I was going last. I’ve never done improv comedy before, but that’s what it felt like to me. I just made stuff up on stage and got some laughs. Lots of adrenalin beforehand. Big dopamine rush afterwards.