Podium Star Pitch Tournament A global gateway to investors and customers for startups
Yesterday, PowerPT presented Podium Star Pitch Tournament. Alex Jensen was able to talk about the event with Jonathan Moore, Chief Innovation Officer at PowerPT and Host of the event and Abhishek Srivastava Executive Director of Teknobuilt, today’s winner.
The event began with sixteen startups, this field was then narrowed to 8, who had the chance to give a 1-minute elevator pitch to an audience, unlike other events where the judging was done by investors. At Podium Star, the 300-strong audience voted for the startups they thought were strongest. The final four then gave a longer pitch to the event judges. A real trial by fire for the startups and an amazing way to build your pitching skills.
As Jonathan says, “I think all of the teams did get something out of it. They learned how to express themselves in 1-minute and let people know what they do, how they do it, why they do it, and how well they are doing it. That’s a powerful skill for anyone.”
Abhishek explains Teknobuilt’s platform. As he says, “Every time a big infrastructure or Smart City project happens. There are multiple engineers and contractors that come together with separate teams, and siloed systems that often cannot talk to each other. The result is poor visibility and 80% of projects struggle with delays, cost overruns and safety issues. My brother Yogesh faced a lot of these stresses, so we teamed up to build a platform that connects the entire process of construction, boosting productivity.”
PowerPT hosts Podium Star to connect startups with investors by developing their communication and pitching skills, whether it’s an elevator pitch or a full slide deck pitch.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Eastpoint Partners. Offering an unparalleled Asia-wide network with corporates, governments and investors.
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Bizcast 73 Thurs Feb 24
Wed, 2/23 8:10PM • 20:39
jonathan, investors, startups, korea, people, event, teams, abby, pitch, company, join, build, investment, alex, podium, silicon valley, elevator pitch, support, star, business
Alex Jenson, Jonathan Moore, Abby
Alex Jenson 00:08
You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m your host, Alex Jensen, and it’s Thursday, February 24. The podium star tournament focus on a theme of industry 4.0 has given several teams here in Korea, and actually some based abroad, we’ll get to that in a second, the chance to pitch for business support in the form of funding and a Silicon Valley education. The contest started with 16 startups that was cut in half to eight teams for yesterday’s Demo Day, which began with an elevator pitch and progressed to a top for presenting investor pitches, and then a winner. And we’ll catch up with that winner as well as the event host, Jonathan Moore in a moment, let me just thank today’s sponsor, Eastpoint Partners, offering an unparalleled Asia wide network of relationships with corporates, governments and investors. Also, thank you, Jonathan, more for joining us today, the man behind podium star we caught up with you a few months ago, and now to speak to you fresh after an event like this. I sense the excitement of what you’re talking about fostering startups here in Korea and beyond because the winner is going to be joining us on the line from Texas. I understand. Jonathan, before we get to that point. Again, as I say thank you for speaking with us, but can you just introduce how this event went in your mind?
Jonathan Moore 01:31
Well, thanks for having me, Alex. Yeah, so we did this event every few months. And we were actually surprised that this was the highest turnout we’d ever had, which beat the previous one in October. With the Emmy, Emmy is the platform we use, which is similar to zoom, but it has way more features for engagement, sharing slides, chatting, networking, all these things, breakout rooms, and we had over 300 people well, 300 of the limit for people who can join, and the notified notification came up in the middle saying you’ve hit the limit. So do you want to pay extra, and I was like, Okay, go ahead and pay a little extra for that. So we had over 300 people join the event. And that was just really, really amazing for us for the engagements. But we had great startups. And that’s really the you know, they’re the stars of the show. All 16 teams that joined were really, really good. And then the top eight were just amazing. And that’s how we started this, this, this event, we started with all eight startups, doing their one minute elevator pitch again, and this time, they had to impress the audience, the investors were not voting for that it was the audience. So these 300 people who voted, they really liked these top four teams. And Abby, who’s also here was one of those who got in the top four. And you know, he was able to impress the judges in the second round, to win the whole thing. So I have to say congrats to Abby, because he’s the one who had a great pitch. You know, we provided every startup with a little bit of support with pitch coaching and deck design and things like this and bringing on the investors. But it’s up to them, whether they take the advice, whether they improve the pitch. And you’ll see we’ll see with every event, some starters put more effort than others. And you can really see who really put an effort in. So I really gotta give all the props to Abby.
Alex Jenson 03:29
Yeah, just before we welcome the winner of a into this conversation, Jonathan, I just want to clarify one thing, what’s the criteria to compete to apply in the first place, both in terms of what you do, and also your career connection?
Jonathan Moore 03:45
Right? So to apply to Podium Star, you have to be a startup. You don’t have to be registered for any specific amount of time. This past event, we had one startup who just registered last month. So they have a one month old company, and they were joined by companies who were four years old. So that doesn’t really matter. But it’s all about are you a scalable solution? And do you fit this month’s theme? So this theme was on industry 4.0 That ranges from smart cities, smart farms, smart factories, and even the metaverse. So if you feel that criteria of that specific theme, we will look at your application, we have an online application, and we look for things like Do you have any previous investment? What is your traction to date? If they’re one month old, they probably don’t have an investment. But they may have done a lot in one month that we think deserves putting them on a stage. Because really it comes to are these startups growing quickly. Fast growth really shows a lot and investors love to see that because they want to get in early. They want to invest early when they’re still young and growing quickly. So that’s really what we look at. We look at startups who are in Korea, by the way Most of them are Korean Korean founders. But some of them are not. Some of them are who came to Korea from whatever reason. And they partner with Koreans. They’re doing business with Koreans, they registered in Korea, and we let them join the event to they have to have some connection to Korea, they must be registered here to join the event. So that is one of the criteria for this event right now, as it currently is, we could expand to other geographies later, but we do focus on Korea because people, the investors are really interested in Korea. So that’s where we keep it.
Alex Jenson 05:35
Thank you. Excellent stuff, Jonathan, and congratulations on how Podium Star is developing. Also congratulations to Abby or Abhishek Srivastava, who joins us. It’s actually when we’re recording this late afternoon in Seoul, which means it’s early hours of the morning, and Texas. So thank you so much for staying up a little bit longer to to join us, Abby, congratulations, really wholeheartedly on winning this.
Thank you so much, Alex. And thank you, Jonathan, for the support. I think it was a great event worth all every minute of staying up late to participate and also hear from all the participants. Some really good solutions coming out. And it’s always great to hear about the innovation, changing the world we live in.
Alex Jenson 06:25
Can I just put you on the spot and ask you for something like your elevator pitch so we can better understand what your company which you’re the Managing Director and Co Founder of Teknobuilt does?
Sure. So I’m the Co Founder and MD at Teknobuilt. Teknobuilt uses AI workflows to guide construction projects. Every time a big infrastructure or smart city project happens, there are multiple engineers and contractors that come together with separate teams, and siloed systems that often cannot talk to each other. The result is poor visibility and 80% of projects struggle with delays, cost overruns and safety issues. So my brother and co founder Yogesh, while working at a leading engineering company faced a lot of these stresses. And then we teamed up to build a platform that connects the entire process of construction, boosting productivity. And that’s why the world’s largest energy company, Exxon, and reknown, Korean engineers table are on our platform. And slowly, we also began to realize the massive impact our idea can have over two and a half billion people on this planet still need clean energy and infrastructure. But we cannot continue building like we have been with wastage and harm to the environment. And reaching sustainability is impossible without a better system. Teknobuilt is that system, humans will continue to build. But we imagined a world where homes, energy and facilities we need are created in harmony with nature, when people really need it. Teknobuilt is our way to make this dream a reality.
Alex Jenson 08:12
Sounds great. By the way, I want to also ask you what you’re doing in the United States, because I understand that’s got to do with expanding your business.
Yeah, that’s right, Alex, we are we have won our first few clients in the US. It helps. It’s one of the biggest projects in the US with exile, and we working with some sustainable energy companies here. So the local presence has become important to set up our branch in the US. So I had to come to Texas last month. And luckily, through us, Jonathan and his team, we were able to get the support for Podium Star or remotely and we were able to fully engage in the process for it. Yeah, maybe I’ll tell you an interesting story that during the first lockdown, we received a tremendous support from KSGC and NIPER, who invited some of the most innovative startups to Korea, and which is how we got in. We are selected out of 3000 companies chosen by the panels from KSGC. And my, my co founder and my colleagues went over to Korea with special permission. There was a lot of coordination during that time. And we started in Korea during the lockdown pandemic times. Our operations there, and since then we have establish our office. We got our local Korean engineers helping our clients over there. And it’s been quite welcoming with the support that we’ve received so far.
Alex Jenson 09:53
Jonathan, it sounds like Abby’s already doing so well. How significant would you say actually winning a competition like this is for a company that’s achieving some success? I guess I’m driving at what price they get and how they can use that.
Jonathan Moore 10:11
Great question. So first of all, just winning the event, you know, being on stage and being at the event, they were connected to many investors who were at the event today. So 15 investors were there and Abby met several of them, I believe in one on one networking sessions after the event was over. So we paired up each startup with a few investors. So everyone gets that pleasure. But the winner, they get a $15,000 scholarship to join Draper University’s hero training program. That’s a program in Silicon Valley, run by Tim Draper, which they have a very famous family name in the Silicon Valley area. His father is Bill Draper. And they put together this organization that really helps to build entrepreneurs. So Abby, or someone from his team will join that program, they will be connected to local investors in Silicon Valley, and also go through education programs that are set up to help them be better founders. And yeah, I think that’s, that is definitely the top prize of the whole event.
Alex Jenson 11:20
And Jonathan, what about for the other seven that missed out either through the elevator pitching, or the three who missed out in the final round? Do you think that based on what you heard and saw that they’ve all taken something very valuable out of the process?
Jonathan Moore 11:38
First of all, from the services that we provide, I think all the teams did get something out of it, even the 16 teams, the ones who didn’t make the top eight, we were, you know, they we gave them a group lecture on how to do an elevator pitch. Everyone can benefit from this, no matter what job you do, on a personal private company, side, everyone should be able to express themselves in one minute and tell people what they do. So I think that really helps people get to the next stage of a conversation. If you’re at a networking event, and you can give someone your one minute elevator pitch, or heck, even 30 seconds, you’re going to have more success meeting people, then if you don’t know how to do that, you know, we’ve all been to events where you’re in a circle talking to people, and this one guy kind of drones on for five minutes. And people are kind of like, okay, I’m not that interested in you yet. You know, first I want to just know what you do quickly. So that’s something we definitely want to help people do. Because it’s going to help them, you know, get new partnerships, or maybe even tech to investors.
Alex Jenson 12:43
I was just gonna say on that point, Jonathan, it can work the other way, though. Like, for example, you meet someone, they say, Oh, I’m in accounting, or I’m in finance, it can be way too short. And also just stop the conversation in its tracks, too. So what do you think is the secret to successful elevator pitch?
Jonathan Moore 13:02
Great question. So we tell people, you need to tell them, first of all, what you do in one sentence, so I call that a one liner. So I do this for these people. So tell people what you’re doing for who it’s for. So you might sell, you might sell computers, but is it to businesses? Or is it you know, to individual, you might have a service that you sell, but tell people who it’s who the customer is. So what you do, what you build what you sell, and who you do it for? That’s the first sentence you should say after your name. So you might say, Hi, I’m Jonathan, and I help startups get investments, right. And after that first sentence, you should talk a little bit about what problem exists and how you solve it. So I might say, look, 90% of startups fail. That’s a big problem. We all know this. But I want to help people, I want to help those 90% better explain themselves and connect to investors in a way that other people don’t know how to do. So again, that was me just on the spot right there. But still, you need to talk about what problem exists and how you plan to solve it, or how you are solving it. And I think in just 30 seconds, for a personal networking type of elevator elevator pitch, that’s good enough. If you do have a few more seconds, you might give a little bit of achievements that your company has done. So you might say, look, we’ve already worked with 500 startups. And you know, half of them have gotten investment from working with us. And I think that just kind of lets people know you’re for real, and that you’ve, you know, you’re doing and I think that’s all you need. If you have a good elevator pitch, you should have someone ask a question after some people might say, Wow, great, cool. So who are your customers? Or, you know, where are you based? They’re gonna ask some follow up questions. And so really, that’s what a good elevator pitch is, is just to get engagement and get the other person to ask a follow up question. That’s my opinion. So that’s yeah,
Alex Jenson 14:59
I mean, I interrupted you. But just to wrap up other benefits that some of these teams might have got out of it. And I’m sure that in itself is wonderful. But do you think building connections with the investors will also help, for example, those who didn’t quite make the grade,
Jonathan Moore 15:15
Definitely, we cannot guarantee everyone’s going to get investment just from one event. But being connected with investors is the first step you connect with them, you, you know, you share information, whether it’s on LinkedIn or email, and they you build a relationship with them. That’s what you have to do. And we’re hopeful that we can just start that relationship. And hopefully, they can reconnect, email each other, build a relationship, perhaps be invited to their office and have a offline or online meeting, that second meeting is really important, and then have it go from there. And investment will will, you know, it will take several meetings before an investment takes place. So that’s that’s what we want to do is just help that start that process. And the other services that we provide, just to get into that real quick. For the top 18 teams, we provide two hours of consulting, actually, I can’t remember who was two hours or four hours per team, it was four hours, to two sessions or four hours. And that was really with a pitch expert to help them build their story and tell them what investors are looking for. Because many startups pitch, and they say the wrong information, something that just doesn’t matter. Or they’re leaving out crucial information. So we tell them what information they need to say and how they should probably say it, of course, there’s more than one way to give a successful pitch. And then we have a design team of 15 designers. And every startup gets a designer who will recreate their their pitch deck. So after they meet with the consultant twice, they should do some homework, unfortunately, they have homework to do. And they have to redesign their pitch deck and you know, make the changes that the consultant has said, then the designer really does the whole thing. And that’s really the main services we provide up until demo day. Oh, sorry, I did mention forgot one more thing. We create a video an intro video of each speaker, they come to our studio. It’s a 62 second video where they talk about their background, their founder background, and things like this. And that’s a really cool way to introduce them on stage we have found. So yeah, if you guys go to our website at podium star.org, you will see a section of all the startups who have pitched in the past. And you can see those videos. I think it’s really cool to introduce them onstage with a video rather than just saying, and here is Abby from Teknobuilt, you know, that’s also really cool. But it’s really cool to see their video and we add a little editing in there and keep it really short, but really related to the pitch. So we do all those things as services. And then again, then there’s Demo Day, where the biggest thing we can provide is connections to the ambassador’s
Alex Jenson 18:01
Abby, it sounds like a fantastic process to have gone through even better to have one it. Now that we’ve heard about all that, is there anything that you suddenly remembered that you thought, wow, yeah, that was great, or anything that you would recommend others do if they’re in a similar position to you in the future?
Yeah, Alex, what I would add to what Jonathan said is that going through this journey as an entrepreneur is quite impactful actually, because as entrepreneurs, we are focused inside the business typically working on our solution working on the client fair. But investors need to hear the business presented in a different way. And these are some of the points that get uplifted through a program like podium star. And through the services like Jonathan mentioned, that was a part of all the startups. Actually, I would say that the competition was very tough, all of the companies from the day one when we started to the final pitching, where so much better in explaining the solution and business to the wider community and the investor community. So I would say that it’s been a great experience as an entrepreneur to go through this process. And to be very honest, you know, even if we had not won, we’d have gained so much in terms of explaining our business, connecting with the investors and taking our solution to the next stage. So we really value the kind of support provided by events such as this, which uplift our levels of our innovative solutions.
Alex Jenson 19:40
Again, well done Abhishek Srivastava, I really appreciate you staying up a bit longer for us. I feel like you’ve got to get some sleep, though. So, good night, and look forward to seeing how you get on when you’re back in Korea.
Thank you so much, Alex. Thank you, Jonathan.
Alex Jenson 19:56
And Jonathan. Thank you also for explaining more about Podium Star through this very practical example and also offering a few tips that maybe all of us can learn from along the way. We’ll look forward to the next time.
Jonathan Moore 20:08
Thank you very much.
Alex Jenson 20:10
And that’s it for today’s episode. We will be back tomorrow. I do want to once more thank Eastpoint Partners which offers an unparalleled Asia wide network of relationships with corporates, governments, and investors