Australian in global pitching final asked “most oddball question ever heard from a judge” – StartupSmart

The first question Slidefish founder Neil Smith received after pitching at a recent global pitching event was one of the oddest the organiser’s chief executive, Adeo Ressi, had heard.


Smith told StartupSmart he was asked, after a 10-minute pitch that passed as a blur: “What happens if Dropbox offers to buy your company for $75 million tomorrow?”


He says that while he wasn’t expecting the question, many document and presentation sharing start-ups such as his have been bought by Dropbox and more established companies in the past year or so.


“My answer was we’re still building out and there is a lot we want to do. We’d consider it, but I’m in no rush to sell personally,” Smith says. “The discussion became that we’d only reach 50 to 75 million before we’d sell out, as though that’s a really bad thing.”


Smith was one of six finalists selected from the graduates of start-up accelerator programs run in 26 countries by the Founder Institute to pitch in the US. Smith was the only Australian in the final round.


“I was as nervous as all hell leading up to the moment when I actually stepped on stage and then it was a blur for 10 minutes until I got off again. Then I got the most odd ball question Ressi says they’ve ever heard from a judge,” Smith says.


Smith says he has no plans to sell the company tomorrow or any time soon, as he’s looking forward to developing it.


“It’s the most likely outcome for us that someone would buy us but I’m really in no rush to sell. It’s such a large and growing market and space that it’s kind of exciting to be in,” Smith says.


Slidefish, a presentation sharing and feedback application, can work with over 110 file formats. Smith says this versatility is the start-up’s key strength.


“It’s become our differentiator. It’s definitely put us in a different position to a lot of the others. We offer that many purely because that’s what customers said they wanted and needed,” he says, adding that his focus for the next six months will be on customer acquisition.


“The possible investors want us to get customers, to see numbers and engagement,” Smith says. “Because we can suck in over 100 file formats, people are interested in what we’re doing. I had one investor approach me who wanted me to talk to one of the companies he advises because we’re similar, but they’re technologically nowhere near us.”


Smith met with a range of venture capital investors during his trip, and will be continuing conversations in the coming months.


The Founder Institute has published a video of Smith’s pitch here.

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