Pitching a Start-Up 102

The following is the story of how we pitched our start-up to a group of American Venture Capitalists at the IMMERSE Summit in Seattle, WA 2016. You can read here our account of pitching to a group of Asian investors from our VRVCA pitch in Beijing last August. 

We arrived at the Meydenbauer Center at 9am and the lobby was already packed with conference attendees. We made our way into the exhibit room to boot up the HTC Vives and computers. Mat and Lily went to hear the opening address and Keynote speaker. We learned that VR is in between a 1980s cellphone and today’s smartphone but obviously has a ways to go. Halfway through the keynote speech Mat and Lily left with James to practice the pitch for that afternoon’s Shark Tank. After making some final adjustments it was time to move back to the exhibit hall.

When they got down to the hall it was flowing with everyone from the lobby. The booth was already buzzing with people who wanted to experience the Doghead Simulations demo. Attendees watched a looped video on display of our team using rumii (our VR collaboration product) as we gave demos with two HTC Vives behind the booth table. We got a lot of comments like, "you mean I don't have to travel again?" and "I can use this for work today!". Interestingly a lot of educators and architects who were interested in how to use VR stopped by our demo. We had some great conversation on how best to use virtual reality for schools and showing buildings.

The day flew by and before we knew it was time for the official pitch run through. Elbert manned the booth so that Lily and Mat could go to the official practice pitch with the other Shark Tank teams. 30 startups applied for the Immerse Shark Tank this year but only five were accepted. Doghead was one of those five.

This pitch was completely different from VRVCA in Beijing. This pitch session was in a large event room with a stage and two large screens to display the presentations. The VCs (otherwise known as “the Sharks”) sat on the stage for the startups to present to them while in front of an audience of 500 attendees. On top of that, the Shark Tank session was recorded by professional camera men. Teams were given five minutes to pitch and had five minutes to answer questions from the Sharks, leaving enough time for about one question per VC. Doghead Simulations was slated to go up second. Todd Hooper announced our team and we walked up on the stage. Our pitch went off without a hitch.

CognitiveVR was selected as the winner and they had a solid product. Although we were disappointed to not have won the Shark Tank we were able to take the advice from the Sharks to make our pitch stronger and even more compelling. We also received positive feedback from attendees in the audience.

It was interesting to see the difference pitching to the Seattle VCs vs. the VCs in Beijing. The VCs in Beijing had more questions regarding the features we could implement while the Sharks at Immerse thought our product should be more focused on a specific pain point. We also faced some stiffer competition at Immerse since it was more of a business focused event where VRVCA Beijing was open to a variety of VR applications.

We want to thank Bellevue for hosting us in the startup arena. Also, many thanks to Todd Hooper, Gregory Paley, and Gail Rice too. It was great event! Even though we didn't win the Shark Tank we still felt like we did, because we had the opportunity to talk to many potential investors on the trade show floor as well as the Sharks on stage. It was a great experience to practice and refine our pitch, which only makes us more confident in our product. We enjoyed seeing the other VR startups’ ideas and demos because they show the real growth for the technology and prove our numbers for the VR market are a reality.

In Conclusion:

  • Don't assume that a successful pitch for one group will be successful for a different one.
  • Your pitch deck can morph and change over time.
  • Be open to feedback about your pitch even if it hurts.
  • At the end of the day it is your pitch and your company, you have to make the calls that make the most sense to you.


Top 3 Sessions we're looking forward to at IMMERSE

IMMERSE is less than a week away are we getting ready to be part of the CITY OF BELLEVUE START UP ARENA in the expo hall. Not only are we excited to show our virtual reality product for distributed team collaboration but we are also looking forward to meeting the other exhibitors and attending the speaker sessions. Read on to see three sessions we plan on attending.


Sizing the Opportunity for the Immersive Technology Industry

The AR/VR market is quickly taking off with hardware, software, entertainment, and enterprise solutions. Immersive Technology is exciting and we are going to IMMERSE because we believe this tech is what the future will run on. We're early in the hype cycle and market adoption so it will be interesting to hear how Madrona Venture Group views the overall market and where they see the greatest opportunities for AR and VR next.



This one could be interesting because pitching a product, solution, or idea in business is much like telling a story. When we're faced with solving a problem for a customer, for example, we have to state the problem and work our way through the issues and what led us to the solution, and how the solution will give the customer their "happily ever after" ending.


Immersive technology in schools, what have we learned?

Part of our software suite is education. We know that using VR for online classes will transform the experience to a more engaging, personal one. Major universities are already looking at how to apply VR to their online classes as well as in-class experience for learning, thought provocation and more. It will be interesting to hear the thoughts of a student,  a college professor and non-traditional education advocate in this panel discussion.


Which panel discussions are you most looking forward to? What do you think of our list? Let us know!


Meet Us at IMMERSE 2016

We are excited to announce that we will be attending Immerse 2016 in Seattle, WA! Immerse is the Northwest's premier AR/VR conference. This event brings together all of the latest learnings, companies, and innovations in the virtual, augmented, and mixed reality industry. It is perfect for business leaders exploring a variety of applications, investors tracking leading-edge technology, VR and AR developers, content creators, software architects, hardware engineers and researchers will all find useful information and connections through the day. You can find all the details on their website here.

Join us in the Start-Up Arena on October 11th to experience your office of the future. We will show you how VR will change where you work, how it reduces travel (which companies spend $1 Trillion on annually) and how we collaborate with our distributed co-workers. Our VR solution solves the pain points of frustrating conference calls and disengaged web meetings. Plus, meet Elbert Perez, former prototyper of the HTC Vive. We look forward to seeing you there!


What: Immerse 2016

When: October 11, 2016

Where: Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA