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Startup Pitch Festival – Slush 2014 in Bangkok

At the end of September 2014 Bangkok saw another cool start-up focused pitch competition happening. This time it was Helsinki based Slush that expanded to Southeast Asia.

The organizer of Slush, who travels 100 countries in order to learn more about local start-up eco-systems (that’s a cool job, isn’t it?) right now, welcomed everybody to the, small but pretty cool, venue. Slashers (is that a thing? If not, then it’s my thing now) met at PocketPlayLab‘s “play” space in the Ekkamai area of downtown Bangkok.

In the beginning we listened to organizers, sponsors and judges showing off introducing themselves and telling interesting stories. Now without sarcasm in my voice: While some presentations have been typical BS bingo presentations others shined some light onto the start-up system while others again made you question how and the whole wide world those people could be successful without yourself being it. I’m not saying that priceza, as a totally random example, is a bad idea (it obviously works and congrats to the expansion abroad) but I still wonder how the founder made all this work. But that’s probably why he was a judge at this event and I a simple audience member.

After the introduction of aforementioned people the pitch presentations started. Each start-up would get 3 minutes for its pitch and then 5 minutes of Q&A by the judges (usually always the same questions). One start-up decided not to show (yep, professional. Welcome to Thailand). The first start-up that showed, which would ultimately go on to win, was washbox24. The founder of washbox24 obviously did lots of presenting before and was the only one who was perfectly timed and prepared for his pitch. The idea works, he’s in business for about 3 years now, and plans to expand aggressively with now diversifications in the pipeline. He answered all the questions thoughtful, fast and reasonable and, in my eyes, completely deserved the win. All the best for the future to washbox24! (If washbox24 reads this: Love your idea but your website sucks – especially on mobile devices. If you need some improvement, shout out!)

washbox24 - winner of Slush Bangkok 2014
Left: CEO PocketPlayLab, Middle: Founder Washbox24, Right: Organizer Slush.org

What followed this quite professional presentation by washbox24 was a bit disappointing to be honest. The runner up, My Motosai (motorcycle taxi app) had an idea that most people in attendance liked but couldn’t really explain how they’d monetize their idea as well as how they’d face certain obvious problems (different dispatchers in different areas across Bangkok – the answer was: “we work with them”. But why and how remained a mystery). Next runner up was LightRocket – a startup focusing on photography and providing photographers with a one-stop solution for all their needs. This start-up is already out in the wild and has partnerships with certain organization (worth mentioning are here the UN and Getty Images). The presentation wasn’t that clear though (why do they need to participate in a start-up contest? and, seriously, “LightRocket”?). The two runner ups however at least did a good job in explaining why one would need them. The rest was more ‘meh’ and would probably not pass my classes at University. Not from a technical standpoint of course (there was not much time to go into technical details) but from a presentation point of view. Not well prepared (“BKK events”), not able to explain what makes them unique (e.g. “Roomfilla” – another AirBnb) or coming up with weak ass statistics (again “BKK events” – seriously? I have more visitors with my-thai.org. Organic and Social. If you bring up stats, then impress please!). One thing that was clear was that lots of presenters didn’t feel comfortable on stage (with only 70-80 people in attendance. Slush in Helsinki, where the winner will present again, sees several THOUSAND attendees!).

For everyone facing such presentation fears as well, I recommend to check out my ‘how to pitch’ workshop. Yes, that’s a shameless plug but it actually could have help lots of those guys.

Overall though Slush was pretty cool. I don’t see how it is different from any other start-up event but that probably is easier to tell when attending the ‘real’ thing in Helsinki and not the first edition here in BKK. It’s cool that Slush is expanding though and I’m curious to see how washbox24 will do in Europe as well as what we will see next year on the Slush BKK stage.

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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