What Jason Schmitt learned from watching 1,000 Startups at Collision

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Jason Schmit is a technology enthusiast, professor at Great Mountain College and regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He writes extensively on innovation, startups and technology. Jason attended Collision, our sister event in Las Vegas and like many others experienced legendary networking. He reflects on his experiences below.

The human-to-human connection has remained a mainstay in the startup pitch regardless of the fact that the world has gone into technological hyper-drive. And, likewise, the futurist startup founder is practicing an act of persuasion which many believe is the single most important factor for venture capital funding. Yet the method of persuasion hasn’t evolved much since 370 BC when Aristotle derived the key to influence your audience, which includes ethos (personal credibility), pathos (speaker’s emotion and passion), and logos (the logic of the argument being made).

Lisa Falzone, CEO of Revel Systems, knows the importance of a good persuasive startup pitch. I moderated a panel at Collision with Falzone focused on her success with Revel Systems.  It was clear Falzone has mastered her pitch about the iPad’s ability to be a premiere point of sale solution for companies around the globe. From Falzone’s credibility, passion and logic, Revel Systems has raised over $115 million in venture capital funding and has propelled her company and its ever increasing roster of over 250 employees to the top of the market.

Falzone acknowledges the importance of clear startup pitches and says, “I think the person-to-person connection is everything. One of the big reasons investors invest is the passion and energy from the startup founders and that doesn’t come across on paper or digitally. They want to see that you are all in, that you are going to do whatever it takes to make this happen. I really think in-person startup pitches are a huge part of the equation.”

If anyone knows the inside and outside to successfulstartup pitches, it’s David Beckett. Beckett has helped over 130 startups refine their presentation for higher likelihood of investment success.

In a startup pitch you can break it down into the two sides: the rational and the irrational. Beckett finds it hard to say the rational data ‘that you take in 8% on every transaction’ with enthusiasm. But Beckett gives an example of an irrational statement and tells me, “if you say ‘the reason I am in this business to help small businesses create mobile websites instantly and free is because when my father was a small businessman Walmart came to the street corner and they took over his business and he went bankrupt, and I want to stand for the small companies like my Dad’s business and I want them to have a presence online.’ When you have somebody telling that you see the eyes pop.”

In the end there is some sort of driver that is more than money and more than wanting to create a global company says Beckett. The key seems to be finding this passion, steeping it in digital savviness and boiling down the outcome in a personal presentation that highlights the human spirit. It is those ingredients that have held the test of time. We can learn a lot from history.

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