What we learnt from organizing the first Snapchat pitch competition ever


1 January, 2017


entrepreneurs, pitch, Snapchat, Snapchatpitch, startups

Yeah right… You want start-ups to pitch you on Snapchat. Where’s the joke? No, I’m serious. We’re doing it.

But why do you want a start-up to pitch to you on Snapchat?

By now, you guys should know that we like doing things our own way.

So when came our launch, we wanted, we needed to do something very special, something that has never been done in the venture capital industry. With no hesitation, we all geared toward organizing the first Snapchat pitch competition.

But why would you even want to use Snapchat to organize a pitch competition? After all, messages sent on Snapchat are meant to disappear, but so are the words you pronounce…

Snapchat allows you to send real moments captured in the instant. And that’s exactly what you want to see from a pitch. When a start-up pitches you on stage, it’s live, it’s real. You want them to spark your interest, so you can spend more time understanding fully what it is about afterwards.

In real life, your customers (mainly in B2C) won’t give you more than a few seconds to convince them to buy your product. So if you can’t convince the guy you want to invest in your company (who is probably more tech savvy than your average customer) in 30 seconds, chances are you won’t convince them either.

But anyway, why not just try something new and see what’s up.

If you follow us, you already know the competition was a success! Everybody loved it, the entrepreneurs (even those who had never used Snapchat before), the team (kind of an obvious one), our investors, and people in general. Literally, everyone we spoke to during the trip was super interested in the competition because of this new format. Plus I’d say people loved it too when they watched it. Take my word for it, but our number of views during the competition just kept increasing. So…

What did we learn by organizing the most innovative pitch competition ever?

The competition happened in 2 rounds.

For the first round, start-ups pitched us directly on our personal accounts, so everyone in the team could judge who will be sent to stage 2. We asked them to send us 3 snaps. For those of you who aren’t Snapchat users, it represents 30 seconds.

The second round was the most interesting one definitely. For it, we organized a series of takeovers of the OneRagtime account.

A takeover = you give access to someone else to your account so they can post directly on your story for your followers to see it.

Start-ups were given the opportunity to post 12 snaps to our story, amounting to a 2 minutes pitch in total.

This was the tough part to manage. This stage was an event spread on 2 days. We had 17 start-ups engaged (down to 100+ from the first stage) all across Europe, and even some in America. Each was given a 30 minutes timeframe during which they were granted the access to our account to do their 2 minutes pitch. Managing start-ups back and forth of the account, plus saving their pitch so we can send it to them afterward was something, but we did it.

First, and this one is true for any kind of pitch competition I guess, it’s hard to find good start-ups to participate.

The benefits of taking part must be significant enough for them to be willing to take the time to prepare and pitch. Because, yes, pitching is a difficult exercise and requires preparation. Let alone when you are asked to pitch on a platform you may not be familiar with.

The benefits of a pitch competition can be really diverse, and to tempt start-ups into joining your competition, you must tailor them to the start-ups you want to participate. This one sounds obvious, but it’s not that easy to find what kind of benefits will generate the most interest.

The first benefit that comes to mind is obviously a prize money, though this is difficult to gauge how much is enough to interest them and how much you are willing to give away for free. It can be participating in a funding round, though you won’t be able to set the conditions before the competition is over thus it’s a tough one to market, and can give you some troubles or at least a good headache.

Then from free services and goodies to exposure, the types of benefits you give to the winners can be just about anything. It’s whatever will enable you to attract the kind of start-ups you are targeting.

Because of the inner structure of Snapchat (10 seconds video max), you have to structure your thoughts. It is an amazing exercise to do. It really helps you to prioritize your message and deliver it in an easy, yet straightforward way. It makes it much easier for your audience to understand it, and so it gives you a better shot to spark their interest. You would think it doesn’t give you the opportunity to say everything you want to say, but a) it’s not true, and b) it’s not what a pitch is for. A good pitch will give enough information to the investor so they can ask you the right questions about your product/company.

Though, at least at first, it makes pitching even more difficult. So there’s no way around, you need to train over and over again.

People remember stories (pun intended), not facts. So you have to tell them a story about your start-up. It’s difficult, and even more with the constraint of a Snapchat. So you have no other choice, to tell a great story (on Snapchat, but actually, in general), you have to be bold and innovative. Everyone prefers the original movies to the remakes anyway, so do the same. Work on your story, learn how to tell it concisely and be bold, be f*cking bold. You want to blow people’s minds so bad they are fucked up for a week!

Overall Snapchat is an amazing tool to interact with your audience. It’s new, it’s fresh, and in our case, it’s right in the audience we want to be the closest to, aka millennial entrepreneurs.

This is just one of the ways you can use Snapchat for. And as the platform grows, there will be more things you can do with it.

Just play with it, try new stuff on Snapchat but not only (there are dozens of new tools coming out every day to play with), and you will see what comes out of it.

Organizing this pitch was amazing, the start-ups that participated were all amazing, and our winners are beyond awesome. It was the first one, and definitely not the last. We will be back soon with new competitions, and other new cool stuff.


Antoine Delanglade