A lot of entrepreneurs have asked on the basic parameters/process we followed to select startups that demoed at UnPluggd.
While there isn’t any set formula for selection, here is the broad framework we followed:
1. Your product USP vs. current status.
Let’s say you are building a car, which is 10X better than what we currently have in 2012. But the 0.1 version (as expected) will be a car that probably is same as the other cars (you will add your IP etc subsequently).
So is V0.1 good to demo? I’d say NO. And a NO benefits the entrepreneur the most (in the long run), as you don’t get bogged down by ‘hey! isn’t this similar to <x>?’
We witnessed a lot of awesome ideas that had V0.1 prototype – would recommend entrepreneurs to bring prototype to a stage where it matches with the product vision. That’s when marketing helps.
2. In no particular order:
- Maturity of the product / offering
- Time since they started up
- Strength of the product idea / Gut feel
- Value to market
- Articulation of market size / scoping
- Team skillsets / past experience
- Understanding of competition
- Financials (and their credibility)
A lot of startups tend to underestimate competition. So while there were few innovative ideas, the bigger challenge was that some of the entrepreneurs who were probably the 10th entrant , but under an impression that they were the first. Not that this impacts whether you make it to UnPluggd stage or not, but it just shows how well you have studied the market (forces).
3. How can we help you?
Of the 10 companies that demoed @UnPluggd, some have come back to us with metrics like these:
– Site traffic has gone up by 600%,
– Got calls from 5 prominent investors.
– Got more than 350 signups etc etc.
– Prominent media coverage
Well, we had a field in the nomination form, that asked entrepreneurs on their expectations from UnPluggd. Some needed investor attention, some needed early adopters.
In some cases, we went back and forth with startups asking ‘why do you want to demo @UnP?’ because we wanted UnPluggd to be the platform that deserved them (and vice versa). For instance, if your revenues are in $2mn range, why would you need to demo the product which already has proven itself (unless you are launching a new product @UnPluggd?).
What didn’t matter?
– College Degree.
– Prior work experience (unless relevant to your startup).
– Site traffic (remember, traction is different from traffic).
– Your sales skills/industry connects (this can be hired/learnt).
We had to choose 10 – and it was a hard time paring it down to 9-10 companies.
There is also one point which we would like to make strongly. That is the fact that this is not an indication of a startup’s viability at all. This is an evaluation of solely which startups would be presenting on stage at UnPluggd – and the weights to some of the criteria above would be very different if an investor is looking to invest in your company. So please do not take it as an indicator of the viability / success metrics of your business.
As always we will continue with out motto “We Heart Startups” – and will continue to profile interesting startups/products on Pluggd.in (share your details here).
Aside, join UnPluggd Facebook group for discussions/further updates.