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All this started with applying to the BigApp competition at the beginning of October. Also thanks to a presentation of super high quality we fought our way up to the top 50, which meant we were “called on a carpet” in front of the jury of investors in London.
Language skills also played an important role while choosing the representatives. Therefore, Oliver and Bažo were chosen as they had received the most points in the English test . Before our departure, we had been practicing our pitch very diligently so that we could make the best use of our incredibly short 300 second time period available for our presentation.
The practice turned out to be also crucially important with regard to the presentation put to PNR by our colleague Grigor, who (poor guy) had only 120 seconds available!!! Whether you like it or not, such strict are the requirements if you want your idea to stand out even a little bit and if you want to attract attention of a busy investor in order that he devotes a hint of his precious time to it. Time is money!
London is interesting also because of the the fact that (as we could see) even at 3.00 AM on Sunday night, life is in full swing there as if nothing special was happening. Pubs were full and drunk youngsters (but also older party people) somehow did not want to anticipate the idea of a new working week starting in a moment. But as for free WIFI access, one must be very cautious. We did not get this in a sufficient quality nowhere in the city, even though the signs were visible on every shop window. If you do not want to enrich your collection of (un)necessary souvenirs like plug adapters, do not forget to pack one because we, the occasional travelers, had to pay extra for this “luxury”.
The next day, we visited the FB HQ before midday, where the program of the competition was supposed to start with an introductory lecture on fbStart, the new FB marketing program aimed for mobile start-up support. Unfortunately, we did not manage to get there because of a restless hostess who bowed us out of the main hall, repeating several times we were from another group and therefore, we were not allowed to come, advising us to come back at 2.00 PM. Well, one has to be tough and pushing to be successful, business manuals advise. What if there was Marc Zuckenberg, the CEO, wandering in the building at that particular time and we would meet him at the toilets, “spending a penny” side by side...The potential consequences could have been measureless :) Fortunately, Mark’s heliport was emptier than a banker’s heart that day so we did not miss our unique chance for the pitch of our lives.
The competition itself took place very quickly then. We were divided into teams and “herded” into the preparation room. While moving there, we had an exclusive opportunity to look inside the second largest FB development center in the world. Even though It was not as fancy as we are used to seeing at viral photos of Google, it was still quite an inspirational working environment anyway: huge open spaces where instagram and FB mobile application are being developed, innumerable cafés, play spots and art creations on the walls were all creating a comfortable ambiance.
Before the beginning of the presentations, stress was almost tangible in the preparation room. No thought of networking. There was just this jovial French guy with his application in the style of IceBucketChallenge who was able to discuss with us up to the very moment he was asked for his pitch.
Our performance began with a misunderstanding, when the judges started the stopwatch without us knowing it and thus, we lost precious 30 seconds (even though we could not afford to lose any time in our 300-second presentation).
Fortunately, what we had missed in the first part was said in the second five-minute part reserved for questions and answers. We were questioned mostly by George Berkowski, the one of our two judges. He wanted to know who our competitors were, in what aspects we were better, how long we had been working together as a team and when the application would be launched for the public. We answered all these questions masterfully and as the real startupists, we also added a bit of “our truth” in it. :)
On this occasion, I cannot help but complain about the system of such competitions. In return for great efforts and a lot of money you have your very few seconds to present the idea and if there is not even time for networking, which was very important in this case, it is, I believe, a huge wasting of human and financial potential. We can compare it to sport, where athletes come to perform a 10-second sprint and leave. No one asks about their mood or weather conditions. But there is one substantial difference: in the way of evaluation. In sport, the only factor considered is time, which runs the same for everybody (doesn’t it, Mr. Einstein?), while in this type of competitions, the decisive factor is the subjective assessment of investors, who usually do not give any feedback telling you why you were or were not chosen.
Well, such is life, so we got ready to roll, having quite a positive impression from our presentation. We still had some time to explore London a little bit and then we went back to our sweet little hometown. Despite the fact we did not make it to the top 10, we gained precious experience and we also (and mainly) created contacts to investors we would like to benefit from within our project in the future.
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