Jayesh Parmar, CEO of Picatic, is the keynote for the September 28 #WeAreYQQ PitchFest & LIFT Launch Party in the Comox Valley. He’ll be joining Steve Morgan (retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur), and Adam Speigel (Business Development Canada) to judge nine Comox Valley entrepreneur pitches. I asked Jay to tell me a little about pitching.
HPM: What did you need to start Picatic?
Jay: The burn! That’s the first thing every entrepreneur needs: Passion. For something you really want to solve.
Starting a business is harder than anything you’ve ever done. “I have this idea: I’m going to rent out your couch to total strangers.” Or: “I’m going to pick up strangers with your car.” Crazy talk! At Picatic we want to bring people together. We started by building a beautiful platform that was free. Our burn has kept us focused and on track.
HPM: At what point did you have to ask for help, and how did you do that?
Jay: We had a mostly self-funded beta product in Saskatoon. We took that to San Francisco – but we didn’t raise any money in SF. Instead, we learned things so that when we came back to Saskatoon we raised over $100K. That gave us the time and space to quit our day jobs.
HPM: What did you learn in SF?
Jay: The importance of personal passion and investment. And that pitching really is about building relationships.
When we got back to Saskatoon we hosted a lunch with friends and friends of friends. We made a presentation. Told them what we were trying to raise. People could see that we’d put a lot of sweat equity into what we were doing. Investors, even if it’s the “FFF club” – friends, family, and fools – they want to know about you, your passion, your integrity. These early investors from that lunch were our first champions, our community of support.
HPM: Has pitching helped you as an entrepreneur?
Jay: Hey, life is a pitch! Pitching helps us to run our company better and stronger because pitching is about much more than getting money. It’s telling the story of our business. It’s about talking to reporters, bringing in new talent, bringing in funding. It helps me identify potential threats and risks.
HPM: Any advice for the businesses pitching at our #WeAreYQQ PitchFest?
Jay: Fundamentally, the pitch is you. You are selling you. People invest in you. People know that companies go up and down. They want to invest in you. Also: Pitching is dating. You’re pitching for the next meeting. You want to create a little excitement. Know your audience: What is your audience interested in?
There is no one-way to do this. You have to have a deck, and a one-pager. But at the beginning you mostly have to have a clear, concise pitch and you have to have the burn, the excitement about what you’re doing.
On September 28 we’ll start with Jay, Steve, and Adam judging nine businesses and projects that have pitched at #WeAreYQQ BizOnDeck workshops. After PitchFest Team #WeAreYQQ is throwing one of their signature parties for entrepreneurs and creatives – the people who are generating the buzz and the biz of the Comox Valley’s emerging startup economy.
For more about why we’re hosting the Comox Valley’s first pitchfest event see this blog post. For tickets (30 early bird tickets available until September 15) see WeAreYQQParty.ca (and yes, it’s a Picatic event site – thanks for building a great event solutions product Jay!). If you’re a #WeAreYQQ subscriber there are FREE tickets for you – but you’ve got to register.
Want to know more about the other business and community economic development perks and benefits of being a #WeAreYQQ subscriber? Check out the subscription options online – or contact Cathy Snyder by email.
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LIFT: Leading, Inspiring, and Fueling Talent in business, the arts, and more – in the Comox Valley! We’re building an entrepreneurial culture in the Comox Valley. Join us this summer and win! You’ll get perks that’ll grow your business. Sign up now!