Swapit for Social Good at So In So Good Impact 2 World Award

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-42-27-pmTwo weeks ago, I really sucked at pitching. Last week, I was invited to the So In So Good Impact 2 World Award pitch event.

This event was a bit different from the usual pitch events I go to. For once, I was able to pitch Swapit not just from the commercial angle, but from the social angle.

Social Innovation for Social Good.

Our initial idea of Swapit evolved around the aim of making it easier for people in densely populated places to buy pre-loved items. By making it easier for people to purchase pre-loved items and for sellers to sell (or give away) their used stuff, we always also wanted to contribute to the society in a whole. The whole process of re-cycling, up-cycling, re-using and re-purposing of existing things, has always fascinated me. If Swapit can just make a tiny difference to how people consume products and they re-use existing ones, just one more time, then we already made a positive impact on the world. Yes, it will be a tiny one, but it is a start. If there then is another person and another one and another one, then we might start to make actually a real impact in the long run.

Let’s be honest, waste production is a problem – worldwide. Especially in Hong Kong, where space is scarce, landfills are full and citizens are against incinerators,  we need to reduce the amount of waste we product.

Hong Kong produces 15,000 tons of waste every day. That equals the weight of 6,500 Mercedes S Class Cars.

So yes, if Swapit can provide a platform where people can trade their used stuff with others nearby and it removes the need for them to throw those things away, Swapit has a positive impact on our environment. In part, that was also one argument for having green as Swapit’s leading color scheme.

THE PITCH

This time, my pitch was different. Generally, though, it was definitely better than the week before at Cyberport. Perhaps because there weren’t many investors in the audience? Or perhaps it went better, because the great wine sponsor of the event (check out Luibao Wine Subscription) convinced me to try one of their Italian reds right as the first thing that night without having had dinner.

The audience was great and while speaking, I even heard someone launching Swapit for the first time. We’ve got this beautiful “Swapit la!” voice that plays the first time you launch the app, and that’s exactly what happened during the Q&A session afterwards.

It was a good crowd, we could get some new users obviously and we’ve made it very clear that Swapit has a positive impact on the world. There were 10 other great teams and some of their projects where absolutely inspiring. Many had a purely social cause and an NGO / community / donation approach, which was a bit hard to compete to. From a social angle, there are a lot of problems that are being tackled and I am happy that So In So Good, which is actually supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, is covering the social innovation field in Hong Kong.

Thanks a lot to our friends at EasyCare, we also have a photo of me speaking:

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Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free. Get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

When you suck, you suck.

On some days, you just have to admit that you sucked big time. I had that day about a week ago at the “Opening Ceremony of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 China – Hong Kong with Pitching Competition”.

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As a result of our training session earlier this month, most other startups also participated in the pitching event that was held on November 15th at Cyberport. It was a great event with a huge panel of judges (9 in total!) and a rather gracious pitch time of 5 full minutes. For the first time, I publicly pitched our re-worked / re-organized pitch deck to an audience. Though, many parts remain largely the same since all the previous pitches, I did; the overall structure is more clear now. At the same time, I present our global vision for Swapit and how it can impact billions of people across the globe. That was the idea.

Yet, my execution during the actual pitch was not satisfying. I was too nervous and it got in the way of forming clear thoughts. In the end, that resulted in me leaving out some crucial key points, which I definitely wanted to communicate. During the following 3 minute Q&A session, I forgot to present some of the key data, which I had prepared as separate backup slides (e.g. demographics, popular trading categories, etc).

I sucked at pitching and I admit it.

Overall, my immediate feeling was that, it was a waste of my time and the time of the judges. After the pitching was over, I reached out to I think 5 or 6 of the judges and asked for feedback on my performance and Swapit in general. To my surprise, most of them actually thought that my pitch wasn’t as bad as I experienced it myself. Perhaps they were just being nice and trying to motivate me. However, they also had some great feedback in terms of Swapit’s business direction and how far we can take this. It appears, that many people are finally starting to understand the power of our technology, what our key advantage is over our competitors, and – most importantly – that it actually is an advantage over them.

Besides the fact, that my pitch performance wasn’t as good as it should have been, it was a great event and I was able to gather a lot of feedback about Swapit and our current stage.

I promised, I will be better next time. Soon there’s gonna be a new tale of startup pitching. Stay tuned!

Have you tried Swapit yet? It definitely does not suck! 🙂 Go to: http://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit will Pitch at RISE BREAKTHROUGH

swapit-blog_riseBREAKTHROUGH is the stage for HK startups to show the world what we are capable of, here in Hong Kong. Swapit made it through the BREAKTHROUGH semi-finals and will now pitch at the FINALS today! Watch us here:

  • Time: 10:00 am and 12:15 pm
  • Date: Today, Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
  • Location: BREAKTHROUGH stage at RISE

You can view a map of the venue here: RISE Venue Map

This time, I’ve only got 3 minutes to pitch, so I will be talking fast — lightning fast. Make sure you got your daily dose coffee to keep up! Better a double-dose, though.

Swapit will Pitch today 2-3pm at RISE PITCH

swapit-blog_riseFrom 200 startups, 60 were selected to pitch at the PITCH competition at RISE and Swapit is one of them. Watch us at:

  • Time: 2pm – 3pm
  • Date: Today, Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
  • Location: PITCH stage at RISE

You can view a map of the venue here: RISE Venue Map

Come by and watch our latest pitch. It’s been a bit refreshed and has a bit of new angle. I’ve only got 4 minutes to pitch, so I will be talking fast. Make sure you got your daily dose coffee to keep up!

Swapit to Pitch on Main BREAKTHROUGH Stage at RISE

Yesterday, we pitched at the BREAKTHROUGH Semi-Finals and we also launched our Swapit iOS app, by the way. From 10 absolutely great Hong Kong startup pitches, we were 1 of 4 selected ones who qualified for the finals at the big BREAKTHROUGH stage at RISE.

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On the last day of RISE, June 2nd, 2016, we will be pitching at the BREAKTHROUGH Stage. In total, 20 startups from Hong Kong were selected to pitch at BREAKTHROUGH to showcase Hong Kong’s homegrown startups. Check the schedule for June 2nd to find out the time: https://riseconf.com/schedule

Some more pictures from yesterday’s event at The Hive Studio in Kennedy Town. Beautiful place, by the way, with great staff there.

Did you try Swapit yet? You can go to http://get.swapit.la and hit download.

Swapit to Pitch at BREAKTHROUGH for RISE

swapit-blog_riseNext week the biggest startup conference in Asia RISE kicks off in Hong Kong. Amongst many other things that’s happening next week, there will also be a BREAKTHROUGH pitch competition for up and coming Hong Kong startups.

Swapit was selected to pitch at this week’s qualifier for BREAKTHROUGH, which will take place at:

The Hive Studios at 7:00pm on Friday May 27th, 2016.
8th Floor, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Sai Wan, Hong Kong

If you’d like to come and join, you can RSVP here.

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This is one of 5 locations across town where BREAKTHROUGH pitches will take place. Swapit will be the first one that night, so you better be on time! 🙂

If you’d like to check out the other teams, have a look at the official RISE blog post: https://riseconf.com/news/breakthrough-semi-finals

Swapit was selected for PITCH at RISE 2016

2015-07-31_rise-summit_600_croppedWe made the shortlist for PITCH at the upcoming RISE conference, which takes place May 31 – June 2, 2016. This is what the RISE folks said:

After a week of deliberating over 200 applications, our judges have chosen the shortlist of companies for PITCH, our startup pitching competition at RISE.

Source: Did you make the list? Announcing our PITCH Shortlist

We are happy and honored that we will be among those few startups who get a chance to pitch at Asia’s biggest startup conference. We’ve been at RISE last year and it was huge! Apparently, this year RISE will occupy at least twice the space for twice the number of attendees — that makes at least 10,000 startup folks all in Hong Kong!

Getting Ready to PITCH

Now it’s time for me to get my pitch straight. I will have a total of 7 minutes on stage: 4 minutes to pitch and 3 minutes Q&A. That’s a bit odd to me, because I usually have either 3 minute, 5 minute or 10 minute pitches. Those ones I can run through more or less smoothly now. However, this now is the best opportunity for me to revise my pitch or better said, bring it up to date.

In large parts, my pitch has been the same over the past year. Some members of the audiences I have pitched to, I have seen listening to me 5 times already. Presumably, it has gotten a bit boring for them to listen to me. While I won’t doing any major changes, I will definitely update some content and show some of the new angles we’re looking at, now. Some new traction numbers will be in the pitch as well as new accomplishments, milestones and projections.

Stay tuned and I hope you’ll be at RISE this year!

You still need tickets? Go to https://riseconf.com/tickets or get two tickets from us (20% off). We’ve got too many. (Tip: we’re giving away two US$50 discount codes for any new tickets.)

Did you try Swapit yet? Download it from: http://get.swapit.la

Recap: East Meets West Conference Hawaii 2016

2016-01-11_emw_600We were invited to Hawaii for East Meets West Conference. The Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific (MCAP) was holding their regional pitch competition there – at the second day of the conference.

MCAP PITCH

A total of 9 countries were competing with 3 teams from each country. That made a total of 27 pitch teams from Asia Pacific. Besides me representing Swapit, Nicole from Spincle and Ilya from USpace were part of the Hong Kong team. I’d encourage you to check them out, they got some very cool products!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I am not very good at pitching – especially when there is a rather big audience. Though, I believe my pitch there was one of the better ones (I certainly performed worse before). So in the end Hong Kong is not being represented at the global final of MCAP which takes place in February in Barcelona at the GSMA Mobile World Congress. I wish the AsiaPac contestants all the best for their pitches there, though.

HAWAII STARTUP ECO-SYSTEM

Besides the MCAP pitch, we had the great opportunity to visit all “startup hubs” in Honolulu. It appears there is a lot happening in Hawaii and the University of Honolulu is one of their breeding grounds of innovation and talent in the holiday state.

There are great places like Blue StartupsXLR8UH, GVS Accelerator, Energy Excelerator and many more. All MCAP pitch teams could take part in a tour to visit all such places. I find it always quite interesting to see how the startup industry is like in other places.

Hawaii – as an island in the middle of the pacific ocean – is cut off from the mainland (and I mean the U.S. mainland). This means, that all not naturally occurring resources, need to be flown into Hawaii which adds a lot of cost and is in the end quite inefficient. Thus, energy efficiency seems to be a huge topic in Hawaii. A place that needs to get its natural resources flown or shipped in, would benefit a lot from affordable and renewable energy sources. Of course, me coming from Germany, this was a no-brainer. It seems many Americans need to be convinced of their benefits. Our renewable energy industry in Germany is world-leading and our energy production from renewable energy sources is increasing constantly. Especially since we decided to shut down all nuclear power plants – in a country of 80+ million people with a lot of energy-intensive heavy industries, by the way. So for Hawaii to focus on the field of renewable energy makes sense, not just from an ecological but also from an economical point of view.

Besides the focus on energy, there is also some great focus put on movie production (which I am still a bit wondering about, but well, if it works, why not?) as well as biotech and ecological advancements. As a rather segregated flora and fauna, biological advancements can be tested in that separate ecosystem. So to sum it up, there is a lot happening in Hawaii!

After all, many Americans consider Hawaii a paradise. Therefore, by definition, the Hawaiian startup industry markets itself as #StartupParadise.

ESTABLISHING NEW CONNECTIONS

Besides the MCAP pitch and our startup tour, there were also some great sessions in between. For example, Henk Rogers, the founder of Tetris held a great talk, Dave McClure from 500Startups was talking again, the SendGrid folks told us some great stories, and so on. So there was a lot to learn, a lot to take home with. In fact, we ended up using SendGrid for our latest Chinese New Year promotion (Swapit Gives Away HK$6 Million in Red Packets for Chinese New Year) to deliver our red packets by email to each person who earned one. And the best thing of that: by using our SoftLayer Catalyst program credits, we were to upgrade our SendGrid account to an Enterprise Account which gives us access to a much higher sending volume as well as Enterprise-grade support.

In between all those sessions, I had the chance to connect with other fellow startups (e.g. Vcool from Taiwan), talk to several folks running incubation and acceleration programs, angel investors and some VCs from places like Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Indonesia, Taiwan and more. So all in all, it was some good 3 days of busyness in #StartupParadise. Though, I haven’t seen anything but the conference venue (Hilton Waikiki) and the way from and to the airport.

I am grateful to the great people at Blue Startups who organized the whole conference as well as the great SoftLayer Catalyst folks who made it happen and ensured we could take part there. After all, a small startup doesn’t have the budget to fly to Hawaii on its own costs. Thanks a lot!

Swapit is Hong Kong Finalist at East Meets West 2016 in Hawaii

Swapit is one of 3 startups to represent Hong Kong at the Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific (MCAP) 2016 which will hold their regional pitch round at the East Meets West 2016 conference in Honolulu on January 14th and 15th, 2016.

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MCAP is a mobile startup competition that brings together entrepreneurs from 9 countries to meet and compete in order to qualify for 3 places at the GSMA Barcelona Conference World Finals in 2016. The challenge is organised by J-Seed Ventures and IE Business School in conjunction with GSMA and is sponsored in part by SoftLayer – an IBM Company.

Check out the StartupsHK article for more information and the two other fellow startups from HK: 3 Mobile Startups to Represent Hong Kong at MCAP 2016 in Honolulu

More about East Meets West 2016 at: http://eastmeetswest.co

If you’re near Honolulu and still want to check us out on stage, you can register here: East Meets West 2016 Registration

Pitching to Harvard Business School Alumni

I am not very good at pitching. In the end, I am a tech guy and a product person who likes to see a creation come to life and put a smile on our customer’s face. Yet, from time to time, I have to get in front of a crowd and tell them about Swapit. Our vision, our approach and our strategy to move forward. I don’t mind that much any more to speaking publicly. It was much harder about 10 months ago when I had my first public appearances for Swapit.

Last week I got invited to talk about Swapit to the Harvard Business School Alumni at our friendly co-working space CoCoon.

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It was a very intimate setting with a quite interesting audience of 30 HBS alumni. Obviously, they all have strong business background and therefore, it was great to get their feedback on our platform and the way we approach our business.

From the event, I have not gotten any direct / promising leads in terms of partnerships or investors out of. However, getting feedback from folks with a very business-savvy and numbers orientated point of view, is invaluable. This is quite similar to the many discussions I have with actual potential investors or business partners. There might not be a direct benefit associated to that time and effort spent on these meetings and pitches, but indirectly it helps a lot when you get back to work the next morning and you realize you have to narrow your focus even more.

While, we are building Swapit to solve a very particular problem in densely populated places like Hong Kong, we need to make absolutely sure, that Swapit moves towards market domination, revenue generation and profitability. At all times, though, we need to make sure we are bringing people together in the most efficient and most enjoyable way. Every time we put a smile on the face of one of our customers, we created a moment of success. It’s not monetary success, it’s a success that shows appreciation and joy. If you’re looking at the top 10 global consumer brands, that’s exactly what they are creating every single day. And, that is what ensures they remain such large well-known brands, which everyone loves. By making people happy that use your product, you are set for success in all means possible.

Right, I also like to give stuff away for free.