The Startup Pitch: Small Teams Making Big Impacts

An elevator pitch is a concise overview used to describe or define a project, service, product, event or startup. The name reflects the idea that one should be able to deliver the summary in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator, which usually takes 30 seconds to a little over a minute.

The goal of a startup pitch competition is to interest your audience enough in your idea that someone wants to meet with you following the event. Potential investors often judge the quality of an idea and team on the basis of its elevator pitch, using them to quickly weed out bad ideas.

And, in the global startup community, the pitch competition is all the rage.

Recently, while visiting our Rackspace office in Sydney, I had the privilege to attend a startup pitch competition organized by the Rackspace Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) Startup Program. On hand for the 2014 Small Teams Big Impact Award event were six startup finalists selected by a panel of independent judges based on the following criteria: Innovation, Disruption and Market.

Judging on location was a panel of who’s who in the startup world. The panel comprised Chris Ridd from Xero; Melissa Widner, co-founder of Heads Over Heals; Ben Chong from the Sydney Seed Fund; and Mark Carnegie of M.H. Carnegie & Co. And all the way from Silicon Valley, Robert Scoble, Rackspace Startup Liaison Officer, rounded out the judges.

“We had six contestants here tonight. You could see the passion, you could see the great ideas, and what we hope from an event like this is it can give others the motivation to go and start something and do great things with technology,” explained Ridd.

The venue for the Small Teams Big Impact 2014 pitch completion was the beautiful, awe-inspiring Cell Block Theatre at the National Art School, which was once part of a prison, the Old Darlinghurst Gaol, a significant feature of Australia’s colonial and cultural heritage.

And the 2014 Small Teams Big Impact Award event was hosted by Rackspace ANZ’s own General Manger, Angus Dorney.

“We were blown away with the quality of entrants in this year’s Small Teams, Big Impact Awards, and the six finalists represent the impressive levels of innovation we are seeing in the ANZ startup community,” Dorney said.

The six startups represented were Elex Ratio, a legal professional services organization offering consulting and systems integration services to local courts; Makers Empire, developers of 3D printing software for schools and learning applications; Pasa, assisting ethical co-operatives in low-income countries with online selling and exporting; RecycleSmart, disposing of waste more consciously through recycling; Today We Learned, an application designed to encourage parent engagement in school education; and Wattcost, a new Australian energy saving technology that provides real-time control of home electricity costs from a smartphone or tablet device.

Congratulations go to RecycleSmart, which took the nod for favorite startup from the audience; and to Wattcost, which took home the 2014 Small Team Big Impact award as the overall winner.

“We were really fortunate to come out winners on the night,” said David Soutar, Wattcost founder. ”It’s a great opportunity for startups to get across the global scene. Some fantastic ideas came out tonight!”

John McKenna loves startups and was a Space Cowboy with the Rackspace Startup Program. He also crafted customer stories and produced really cool videos for the Customer Reference Program. John enjoys telling stories through his writings…and loves the beach, the ranch, his dog Blue and most of all his three beautiful daughters.


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