Get ready to learn a whole new language APPlied in an unscripted competition show, which follows enterprising hopefuls as they pitch new in some cases bizarre phone applications to a panel of celebrity judges. Welcome to Apple’s answer to the Dragons Den Shark Tank Apprentice PLANET OF THE APPS. Now on Apple TV.
These apps range from Companion, started by two University of Michigan students concerned about campus safety, that allows a remote friend to monitor, say, your walk home from the bar and get notified when you’ve made it safely. To Mend, an app that aims to be a “personal trainer for heartbreak,” wants to help you avoid those mistakes and move forward with your life.
Entrepreneurs are greeted by Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk (a tell-it-like-it-is digital marketing tycoon), the jurists who’ll decide whether these entrepreneurs advance. The next stage is a six week incubation mentoring with one of them leading to a meeting with venture capitalists at Lightspeed Ventures, the first venture capital firm to invest in Snapchat, who may or may not invest in their companies.
Would-be tech magnates give a pitch as they descend a moving ramp about why the world needs their app. If at least one celeb entrepreneur swipes GREEN Tinder style (instead of RED) they are then allowed a longer presentation about the USP (Unique Selling Point) remorselessly cross-questioned by celebrities who’ve parlayed their success in entertainment into careers in business.
Nearly every judge, investor and contestant drops an acronym (SLAM, SDK, B2B, etc) in fact it’s so hard to keep up with list of business-y jargon that there are definition pop-ups on screen. It a whole new education in the use of language but language you need to be deftly up to speed on and ready with some bait to throw the sharks.
What I find is working is the people who are creating something based on their own life experience or passion. This gives them the edge of being their own ideal client and creating from a place of real need and use. They are essentially solving their own problem and gifting it to the world. They are the ones who are not caught out by the cross examination. They are the ones who pivot with the next phase of their vision instead of the stumbling silence that precedes a ‘better luck next time’ hook to the exit.
It is also essential you know your product, and your competitors inside out as Vaynerchuk points out “Always be scared of Google and Apple,” when his protégés at Companion realize that Google has just launched Trusted Contacts a similar app.
IP: who owns the Intellectual Property? Is it you or is this something you are building on another established idea? Many have fallen on this sword.
Own Your Story! One of the most credible and likable entrepreneurs was Chandra Arthur, CEO and creator of Friendish. She knew where she was coming from, understood jargon but used real language and pivoted every searing meant-to-burn-you question into a counter question that gave the potential investor the opportunity to show-off their own expertise then built on their answer. Clever girl. She didn’t walk away with investment but the test by fire has tempered her resolve, given her answers; now she has a better idea of what to do next.
My check list for the perfect pitch:
First – get your numbers straight so investors know how much you need for what (Ask, Burn Rate, Runway) The opening line of every pitch was “We are asking for…” essentially what you want and what it costs. Second – Own Your Story! 20 seconds of your personal connection with your creation Finally, articulate your vision like it will happen whether they invest or not.