Should you be speed dating your mentor?

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Chris Rickard

 

Business: SetKick

 

What’s your big idea?

 

I started work on it with three other guys about eight months ago. I’m about to give up my full-time job to work solely on it.

 

SetKick is a system that manages the pre-production process for crew and cast on a shoot.

 

I was living in Canada with one of the other co-founders who was working with some dodgy software for managing the production process and we saw a need for something new.

 

We realised there was no one player dominating the market and that we could do something with a scheduling system that was compatible with mobiles, which people could use on film sets.

 

Why did you go to a speed mentoring event then?

 

I spent ridiculous hours in the spare bedroom developing it. I went to Mentor Live! because I thought “what next?”

 

Our skills aren’t in business. We’re interested in start-ups, but we haven’t done anything like this before and we wanted to get some advice.

 

Also, we hadn’t pitched the idea to anyone apart from family and friends, so it was good practice.

 

What did you learn from the experience?

 

The first thing you realise is that you can’t convey the excitement you have for the idea in just 15 minutes.

 

Tom Howard, the co-founder of Adioso, was the first mentor we spoke to, and I was a little awe struck. It was hard to explain what the app does in just 15 minutes, as well as what we want to do with it.

 

We realised that we couldn’t answer every question he would have, so we decided to turn things around and ask him about his experience at YCombinator. That was really useful.

 

We went to the second guy without having the time to speak among ourselves about how to handle it better. Again, we did the back and forth thing, showing him screen shots while telling him what the system does.

 

He asked many of the same questions that Tom did and suggested that we could tailor the app to film schools.

 

We cut back the pitch from the big picture, which gave all of our history. We gave specific information that got over the essence of what we were doing. By that time, we were mentally worn out.

 

By the third guy, we were saying even less. Inadvertently, we were getting better at pitching as we went along.

 

We were cutting out the unnecessary stuff that the mentors didn’t really need to know about at that stage. We showed what the problem was in the industry and how our app was going to solve it.

 

What advice would you give other start-ups that pitch at something like that?

 

The biggest piece of advice is to realise that you won’t be able to explain every part of your start-up in one go.

 

Keep it short and succinct. If you stay to the bare bones, the mentor may not grasp how much you love the idea, but he or she will certainly know how it works and whether it has a chance in the marketplace.

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