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St George Kickstart & TedX

St George Kickstart & TedX

As a long time fan of the US Shark Tank show and a loud critic of the quality of  most of the businesses chosen for the Australian season, you can imagine my delight when I was asked to be a judge on a panel that business owners pitch to. As a long time fan of Ted Talks I was also delighted that the judging was included as part of the program at TedX Sydney at the Sydney Opera House which means I am able to be inspired and then hopefully to inspire.

This Thursday is the big day and I will be a judge for the St George Kick Start  awards. Ten lucky winners will be chosen from twenty nervous business owners who will be pitching from the main TedXSydney stage for the opportunity to win $10,000 prizes. The business owners must be running a new business that is less than 36 months old and the criteria for selection was that they be doing something innovative, creative and with a bit of spunk.

I love this broad brief and the twenty finalists won’t disappoint. From Aerosol Murals who has a dream to launch an art supply store catering for street artists in Sydney to Coco Louie who makes ‘glasses dolls’ to help children who need to wear glasses adjust to and accept their specs through to BrandSound who imagines a brand that is recognised by sound, not just with a logo. Innovative, creative, clever and certainly full of spunk.

So what will I be looking for? Passion certainly but it would be assumed (or certainly hoped) that every business owner pitching will be passionate about their idea. There are two other things that I’ll be looking for when these business owners pitch on Thursday afternoon.

1. Can they be best in the world at their idea? Is their idea easily replicable or is it something interesting, patentable or complex enough that another business can’t open up tomorrow and replicate it. What is their secret sauce that sets them and their idea apart?

2. Have they identified and explained what will drive their economic engine. Sure a good idea might be a good idea but is it economically viable? I may love tea cosies and have patented some incredibly intricate designs but are enough people going to buy them and will they pay enough for them? This is where I want to see some evidence of research and numbers to back up their passion and their ideas.

They only have a minute to pitch and they’ll be incredibly nervous but I want to see more than passion on the stage this Thursday. I want to see business owners that have researched their market, have already thought about how another business might try to replicate them and have taken steps to ensure this won’t happen and really understand their numbers. It might be the geek in me but if you don’t know your numbers then you’ll only ever get so far when it comes to business and with a decent prize on offer I want to do more than just give it to someone with a dream, I want to give it to someone with a dream and a plan.

What about you? If you could pitch your passion, what you could be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine in one minute could you do it? After all, you never know when you might meet a future investor – over dinner, in a lift or at a networking event and if you’re not ready with your well-thought out pitch you may miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime too.

As for the St George Kickstart finalists? Stay tuned till next week when I reveal how they went or follow me on twitter at melbrowne_ as I tweet on the day about the experience.


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