Innov-a-thon pitching for Dubai [updated]

Have and idea or an early stage project? Want to validate it? Want to polish your pitch? Want to visit Dubai? Who doesn’t want that! About 20 Polish startups replied of which 10 were selected to pitch. On stage in the theatre of the Startup Zone 8 teams presented themselves, through Skype 2  teams from Cracow and Wrocław joined the competition. The European competition organised by TURN8 from Dubai, powered by i360accelerator. Compliments go to the organizer Adam Łabędzki who did an amazing job to get this event to the Tri-city area. The TURN8 team was impressed and basically invited 5 teams for further information exchange and negotiations. An amazing result!

A nice diversity of ideas

The range of startup ideas was really wide from a virtual band, LiveGaming, a diabetes app helping patients to keep track on i.e. their food consumption and medication, the Gdansk based already award winning Virtual Recruiter, a project status update tool (, Lingly to learn a language in no time (honestly, I would love to …), EgzoTech rehabilitation robots from Cracow and WellSERVED your personal waiter from Wrocław. They were all hoping to be selected during this competition. The reward is interesting for sure: $30.000 support, 3 months acceleration in Dubai with the aim to have a ready product within 6 months.

Remote pitching is a bit different

Having investors present through a video connection introduces some challenges. First of all technically everything has to work and it often doesn’t, so for sure we were facing these issues as well. Fortunately, for the pitchers there was an audience to focus themselves on. In several cases it was obvious people were too nervous, probably due to a lack of experience with pitching. Nothing to blame them for, but it makes it a lot harder to share your message in a convincing way. Experience pays off as we could also see during this pitching session.

Innovaton Dubai Gdynia

Direct feedback from Dubai

The Dubai team was very satisfied with the quality of the pitches. They mentioned this session was one of the best ones they have had across Europe, although some of the ideas might have been too advanced for them. They are looking for great teams that know their business very well. Because they are seed investors, they like to take an idea to the global market. They focus on billion dollar markets, so an idea has to have the potential to target a large market.

The TURN8 team decided to invite three teams for a so called due diligence. During this phase the teams will be informed about the conditions of the program and they can decide whether or not they would like to continue. Also further investigations at the TURN8 site might be applicable. The following teams were offered a due diligence:

  1. EgzoTech (Cracow)
  2. Lingly (Wrocław)
  3. Virtual Recruiter (Gdansk).

In addition two teams (Diabee from Poznan and GamingLive from Miastka) were offered an additional meeting to make the TURN8 team better understand the concepts. Some additional investigation is needed to decide whether or not these teams will be offered a due diligence.

All in all an amazing result. Congratulations to all the teams and hopefully one or more of these teams will be able to have a great acceleration time in Dubai early next year.

Important lessons learned

The teamThe potential investors from Dubai were stressing that they wanted to know something about the team. It had to be clear to them what makes that this team feels they can solve the mentioned issues. In several cases the solution and the business model was not clear after the pitch. In case of IT-solutions they also wanted to know if there were software developers on the team.

The solutionTeams were rather good in defining the problem they wanted to solve and to show the market potential. Most teams unfortunately had serious issues clearly defining their solution in a simple sentence, which caused some misunderstandings. Even during the Q&A round it was often hard to catch it.

Competition: To be sure you have investors something to offer, you need to be able to position your solution compared to the competition, you need to be aware of who’s your competition. This has to be part of your basic market research. Thinking that you have a good idea is not sufficient. You need to be able to show the USPs of your idea.

Presentation: Pitching is not easy and for sure not when you have to do it in English. Supported by the Gdansk Entrepreneurial Network, GENE, a pitching training was offered. Just some teams made use of this offer, which appeared to be a real pity. Several pitches were just not sufficient, very basic presentation mistakes were made. If you have just 5 minutes you have little time to be convincing, if then you are also switching in between multiple presenters it’s hard to make a good impression.

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