The founders of the project Qlothes Alexander Myasoedov and Roman Popov — personal experience by a startup event in the United States, the opportunity to present the project to the maximum number of investors and major problems. It all started six months ago, when we suddenly took part and won the hackathon in SKOLKOVO. For three days, came up with the idea and implemented the MVP project, which allows you to receive free personal images and advice from professional stylists.
Then we got $200 thousand a preseed investment from a business angel and since the cool pumped product. What we have at the moment Qlothes. A database of more than four thousand users. Directory with 10 thousand images, a team of five professional stylists, two developers.
As well as outsource specialists. We have developed “a unified algorithm”, abbreviated as EVA – in the manner of Hollywood-fiction. EVA is responsible for the automation of user groups. It can handle a virtually unlimited number of applications and gradually improves the quality of personalization of images based on user data and activities, which we collect and carefully analyze.
3 months ago, we accidentally stumbled on the news about a conference for startups Collision 2017. New Orleans, from 2 to 4 may, three days of the exhibition, 20 thousand participants from 150 countries, five scenes, dozens of internal conferences and round tables, night programs and much more.
And in a Collision can participate in startups at early stages. Is a core value of the exhibition and for all new projects, and for investors who are in the same place can study hundreds of different projects. The organizers have identified several participation formats:
In practice, the participation formats differ only in the colour coding, number of booths and location on site. In the best tradition of “Halt and Catch Fire” decide to participate in this adventure and begin training.
During the day, create an English version of the project. Partnership with international online stores, such as Asos, ShopBop, REVOLVE, FARFETCH, allows us to work with Russian-speaking and English-speaking audiences. Apply for participation in Collision, waiting for a call. After a short phone interview (this is mandatory), during which the show Manager asked more about the project and its stage, the organizers invited the participation format Beta.
It costs $980, $300 more expensive format Alpha. Included in the price. The model stand on one day of the show, branding scoreboard stand, the opportunity to participate in a “pitch battle” (about it later), access to the meeting area, three representatives of the project on the stand and all internal activity on all days of the exhibition. Buy Beta.
After payment we were offered an additional option – renting plasma panel stand for $250. It is obvious that to solve the issue with plasma and free. You can buy it in New Orleans and then give it back after the exhibition, thereby restoring the entire cost. But we decided not to bother and to do two laptops — given the size of the stand, that was enough.
Although “plasma” and our promo video on it would be not superfluous. Located among the same model of stands you need to use all options to stand out from the crowd and attract the attention of investors and visitors. We sent the access to fill the member profiles and the startup. Start.
Further events are developing rapidly. In the project profile were required to download a press release and pitch decks project, all in English. Press release sorted out quickly.
But on a pitch-deck stuck, by the time we had a number of key changes had to significantly revise the current version of the presentation. And, to be honest, we were more focused on product than its description. Just on the numbers spent 2 weeks. Picking with ARPU, NPV, IRR, updating and locking indicators.
And here we get another letter from the organizers with information that to apply for participation in a pitch-battle an urgent need to send pitch decks project, as registration closes on the next day. Unfortunately, our pitch-decks was still not ready, so with a pitch-battle, we flew. Its a shame, but who knew.
In parallel, solved the problem of obtaining U.S. visas, which is delayed due to the fact that not enough of certain documents. Because of this, plane tickets and accommodation paid quite late. In the end, the cost of the flight Moscow – New Orleans with a stopover in new York for the two parties (the third was already in the US) cost us 130 thousand rubles. Here it was possible to save much, taking the ticket from Moscow to Miami and back for 65 thousand rubles for two, and from Miami for 15 hours to get to New Orleans in a rented car (in America you can rent a car for $50 a day) that it would be fun and interesting.
But its crazy we have not had time, sorry. Decent and affordable hotels in the city were already occupied. Look at Airbnb, but there are only a couple normal options. Take some authentic classic American style located 4 km from the exhibition.
Five days accommodation at a cost of 37 thousand rubles. The day before departure we Polish the translation a pitch deck, collect your things and move out. The aircraft is completing installation of a promotional video.
Upon arrival in New Orleans, called Uber ($33!) no problems getting to our house. Vivid impression left road — no, they are not perfect, as we expected, and sometimes even more “dead” than in Moscow. OK, make allowances for the fact that in 2005, the city suffered the terrible hurricane Katrina.
Our house is a warm individual history. Just look at the photos from exterior and short review video shot for friends. We arrived the day before the exhibition, so hurry up to register for the event and get the badges with the bracelets. And yet it is allowed to have time to recover after a 16-hour flight and eight-hour time difference.
Ride Uber to the venue from our home worth $12. In Moscow, a similar distance route would cost no more than 150 rubles But we hung out on the plane, so decided to walk to check on foot to see the city and at the same time the final hone eleveytor pitch. As expected, workout stopwatch, removing superfluous text. By the end of the walk umeem oral presentation in 40 seconds capacious “recitative”.
During the registration process we learned that we identified in the first three days of the exhibition. After the case, return to the house of uncle Schlomo (the name of the owner and so we called our shelter at this time), again check the materials and brishen team. Everything is ready, we will have time to unpack, put to charge gadgets and a good nights sleep before the big day.
Wake up at 6 am and go to Breakfast at the closest Starbucks. The only place with normal coffee within walking distance. Breakfast for two cost $18 and included cappuccino, cocoa, two roll with spinach and two almond croissant for dessert (in Moscow the food at Starbucks tastes better, unbelievable but true).
Collect things, put on our uniform simple, check the badges, called Uber. At 8:30, half an hour before the official opening, were here. Stand quickly driven to a state of readiness and already look around in search of investors.
In the morning people havent so much and you can practice pitching on the first. But closer to 11 oclock the visitors was so much that over time have repeatedly been able to pitcheth simultaneously to two and sometimes three people. Along with the influx of people began to fall provided by the organizers of the Internet, which, of course, prevented to present the mechanics of the project and communicate with each other, but everyone treated this with understanding.
Visitors with red badges of the investor was really a lot. They are easy to contact and after the presentation, eager to share opinions and business cards. Almost all investors first of all interested in the team and ready to scale to the US market.
Obviously, you will be in a better position if you answer that are based in Los Angeles, not in Moscow, and plan to scale into the US market, and not developing countries as we planned. But it does not bother us, communicate honestly, because we knew why and where we go. Pitch plans to launch product into new markets, adding that we are mobile and ready to move.
It is worth noting that investors, before you approach, first looking at the scoreboard stand, which shows the profile of a startup. Profile you can only choose one, and we, this, of course, Fashion. Therefore, the meshing of the crowds attracted to our booth the attention of investors was ineffective, in this case, the answer we received. “Sorry, but this is not my profile, Im interested in [for example] FINTECH”.
In parallel, in one of the scenes took place pitch battle. It was a qualifying tournament with the jury and announcement of winners. Sorry, we were not able to participate in this.
But maybe its for the best, because we were able to fully concentrate on the original purpose. Anyway, at this rate, we just had no free time to visit other events. Among which, incidentally, was the lecture of Chris Sacchi investor from Shark Tank (a portfolio consisting of Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Kickstarter, and Twilio), and even a lecture by Wyclef Jean (Wyclef Jean) – one of hip-hop idols of our childhood.
By the end of the first day of the exhibition we have had over a dozen contacts for investors and as many potential partners. We immediately got a table, into which were transferred the data with comments on everyone who was sent a further letter with a pitch deck and what was the answer. What I want to say, not much difference between the Alpha and Beta location we have not felt. On the contrary, there was a feeling that Alpha is more efficient, as it is located closer to the entrance and has a greater bandwidth.
Note that, as has already been mentioned. All the stands look the same, so it is important to use additional selection handles. Even banal plasma panels, as it turned out, saved the majority of participants. Need to use additional lighting, different interactive features, interesting to prepare the handouts and the like.
By the way, the food at the exhibition was completely inedible and overpriced. In the remaining days ate mostly at Starbucks. But could not deny myself the pleasure to try at a local restaurant alligator meat, which is famous for New Orleans.
As Sasha said. “Guys, first time I eat something that could eat me.”. In the second and third day we had no bench, had to change strategy. I would like to thank the organizers for a mobile application, which collects the profiles of all exhibitors with filter by tags.
Filtered interesting to us investors, are preparing a universal text message and begin manual newsletter. By the way, the functional part of the application is duplicated in your personal account on the exhibition website, which is very convenient for work.
Messages to be sent 150 investors and some journalists, expecting that they will receive a notification about our message directly to smartphones. But not all so simple. It turned out that if there is no contact or correspondence with a particular user, the notification, he will see only when you open the app. But it worked, the next day we started to get answers and arrange meetings.
This was very useful for our time in the meeting area, where we were alternately arranged to meet investors in a relaxed environment at a separate table. The format of personal communication has shown itself much more efficient pitching from the stand.
At some point in the evening, they are going overboard and start to cling to people right out of the crowd. By the way, so we met with an English investor named Mike. Of course we could not miss a night party from Collision, where allowed only with badges. We wrote and met with several investors in an informal setting.
Its nice that most investors have a positive impression of our product and its elaboration, separately stressing the design. Admittedly, our first trip to the States.
Return to Moscow physically drained, but full of optimism and vivid impressions. And most importantly, new contacts and perspectives for the project. Send columns, corresponding to the requirements of the editorial Board, [email protected]