Everyone’s a Winner at The Big Pitch
We recount the top stories from Tuesday’s energetic event, which provided some brilliant pitching and a number of winners, not least the Australian startup scene.
The night got off to an energetic start, with an eclectic crowd gathering and socialising in Fed Square – a few impromptu elevator pitches could be heard over the electric buzz. After some time meeting the competition’s sponsors, the audience took their seats and Newsmodo’s founder and CEO, Rakhal Ebeli, opened proceedings.
It didn’t take long for great quality to show itself.
Online retail startup Bluesky kicked off with a confident pitch from founder David Mah. With the startup already counting major brands as clients, and delivering the pitch with great posture, non-stop energy and a few dramatic pauses, Mah made a convincing case for their place in the final. Questions were tough, as could be expected from the illustrious judging panel, but the Bluesky CEO was up to the task, responding with thought-out, solid points.
Next up was WeTeachMe – a combined management tool and sales channel for class and event conveners. They were ably fronted by founder Kym Huynh, whose pitching skill came proven by a second place at StartupSmart’s ‘So you think you can Start-up” pitch competition. Some compelling figures and good traction set the tone, but the judges pulled no punches, grilling Kym on retention. He was unfazed, coming back with figures to back the claims.
ECAL pitched their calendar-based marketing alternative with the sort of composure that suggested they’d done this before. That theory was only confirmed by the way their founder, Patrick Barrett, fielded the panel’s questions.
Gaming enthusiasts had something to cheer about when Black Delta founder Zach Griffin wowed the panel with a visceral presentation of the game. Some memorable lines came from the pitch including this impactful statement: “If you’re fast in real life, you’ll be fast at KartSim.” Questions broached the subject of the hit and miss nature of the game industry, but Griffin handled them admirably.
Last to take to the stage was Etaskr. An online task management startup with an interesting product, they must have been feeling the pressure after the amazing pitches that preceded them. It didn’t show. David Chung took to the stage in style to coolly deliver a great pitch. After battling back against questions on customer acquisition efforts, he escaped the intimidating arena of the prominent Deakin Edge stage unscathed.
So who won? On the night, ECAL walked away with pre-termsheets signed for $2.5m in funding, and WeTeachMe secured $2m. Black Delta won a great package of sponsored prizes as they collected the People’s Choice Award. But that was just the start. The real winner on the night was the Australian startup scene, with the first real showing of financial support and placing a marker for pitch events and investors to beat.
Incredibly, Ilya Frolov, Oxygen Ventures’ Investment Director said the standard on the night was so high, they could go on to provide funding and support for each and every pitching startup, pending terms: "We're in very close talks with the three other talented finalists as potential investment opportunities for our portfolio."
Startups also profit the learnings of the night, finding a newfound appreciation of their own strengths and weaknesses as a result of an uncompromising panel of business leaders. On top of all that, the night has also provided a great opportunity for increased exposure, featuring in nationwide TV and press coverage. Now that’s a night to remember, and we’re hoping it’s the first of many for Australia’s excellent startup scene.