Co-founder Dating & Speed Pitching #26 – MVP – Easy as ABC?

(guys, scroll down if you just want to read about the pitches, or stick with it for the preamble)

Is it too early to start talking about how it’s too early to be talking about Christmas yet? At HHH we don’t think so because last night was our final Speed Pitching and Co-Founder Dating event of the year (sniff). And what a year it’s been; our membership just keeps on growing and growing; from 200 to more than 20,000 members in a little under 24 months, and our events are packing out Google Campus twice a month (get there early if you want a seat – and keep the noise down at the back!).

GaP->GaS (Got a Problem – > Get a Solution, sister event to Co-founder Dating) has really bedded in and although the format we pioneered is now being copied all over the world, hopefully you’ll agree, ours remains the original and best, as well as the most popular ; )

The flagship event of the year was TECHtoberfest, a Munich inspired celebration of all things tech and start-up related, with schnitzels and oompah thrown in for good measure. Thanks to everyone who attended and to anyone who didn’t don’t worry, we’ll be doing it all over again next year. Check out this video clip of the event which was shown on MTV!

In January we’re going skiing in Tignes Le Lac – startups on the slopes; it’s a week of networking brainstorming, and a week’s ski pass, all for under a grand – if you want to book a place, hurry, there aren’t many left. And later in 2016 we’ll be launching “Startups of the Caribbean” – the world’s first incubator in the glorious Dominican Republic.

So plenty to look forward to but Speed Pitching and Co-Founder dating is still our bread and butter, the gig that made us famous, and like all good East-Londoners we never forget where we came from! Last night was another “cracker”; here’s how it went down.

Like all of the best events it began with…me! Reminding you of our fantastic sponsors, (deep breath) Moo, Campus London, Viber, EventNinja, SnapZap, Glisser, Perlimpinpin, Zymge, Moteefe, Cherry and Waterfront Solicitors, and going over the ground rules – then it was over to Jonty Sharples, ex-design director at Albion London PR Agency, founder of Hactar, and CDO at SuperCarers (both agencies for social good), to tell us why “The MVP is dead – long live the best you can do!”

(Remember just to scroll down if it’s the pitches you are looking for ; ))

Let’s repeat that; “The MVP is dead – long live the best you can do!” because it’s a pretty radical statement; Jonty, with 16 years of experience working alongside ad directors, film producers, marketers and startups, should know; and so should MVP guru Jeff Gothelf, apparently, who defines the MVP as “the smallest thing you can make or do to test your hypothesis”.

Now the important take-away here is that MVP is, in essence, just an acronym; on its own it means nothing and impresses nobody – there is so much to think about when launching a product; firstly, in startup land, we’re all in the business of selling something. Be realistic about that, not precious. We all want coverage in the press or the media but sometimes we strive too hard for it – to the detriment of the product.

Jonty says the difference between a product’s success or failure is often quite binary so take note of the following; some people want their MVP to include every planned feature first time around; this is rarely, if ever possible. There are different kinds of agencies; at a big agency your product may get lost in the noise; a smaller agency may not have the resources you need; be like Goldilocks – find the perfect size for you.

If you have stakeholders, don’t disappoint them; some want to see a shiny new product every month to keep them happy and engaged; others might not provide any feedback and dodge meetings. A statement of work is a great idea – let stakeholders, agencies and your team know what you will and you won’t do for them – keep everyone in the loop. Defer to experience, trust your consultants, don’t talk BS (as if you would!) and find a middle way – the MVP is not the be all and end all and doesn’t need a sexy launch party, however tempting it is to throw one – in the final reckoning, the product just needs to work.

This was a Gif-laden (my eyes are still hurting) presentation that kept everyone engaged with some pretty hilarious footage that I recommend you get your hands on. The main message? To my mind, and to paraphrase Jonty – you can build the plane while you’re flying, but you have to know how it works. And have the magic formula.


Now, you wonderful people, thanks for sticking with me as I babble my way to the best bit – The Pitches! They were so good, and so many but I’ve picked out 15 of them this month; starting with the prize-winners selected by me, according to my whim – and experience hosting 26 of these events, of course.

Shahzad – Hipster: muzmatch  to sum this idea up in 3 words – Tinder for Muslims – that want to get married rather than hook up; 30k members, 123 countries, 300 successes to date. So better than Tinder already right?

Stephane – Hipster: no company name; we love a committed entrepreneur here at HHH and what shouts dyed in the wool Hipster more than pitching the day after you have quit your job! Stephane is now an ex-financial analyst on gardening leave hoping to disrupt the world of bond trading by creating a niche financial data product – he needs a CTO to join him on his crusade to make more bankers redundant!

Emma – Hustler: Pink Lobster Dating is a site for women who like to date women and according to Emma that’s 83% of women – so chaps, you have been warned, there’s more chance the girl you have your eye on has her eye on her next Pink Lobster date; maybe it’s time to get involved with this fast-growing start-up.

Mathieu – Hacker: this most French of men did not fool a single member of the audience by describing himself as Matthieu from Scotland but he did make a lot of people laugh – we like that! He also runs “crazy but soft” marketing agency Psykosoft that likes to do things differently but can still transform your business. Worth checking out.

Morgan – Hustler: project name secret cartwheeling into position on stage is very cool and gets you talked about – unfortunately we can’t discuss Morgan’s project yet because it is still in development but if you like clothing and you like hemp then this is somebody you want to be reaching out to.

Now the best of the rest (in my humble opinion)

Savva – Hustler: Eu Law Online everybody needs a good lawyer and if that lawyer is entrepreneurial and prepared to take the stage and take on the water-pistols then we think he could help you out of a scrape or even help you grow your business. A virtual in-house legal adviser (we got that from his website) sounds good to us!

Max – Hipster: ecocompanion where are you going to find your next sustainable holiday? Let ecocompanion do it for you; it’s Trip Advisor with lion cubs with a bespoke eco rating system and we think it looks pretty unique and amazing – so go and visit the site and let Max know what you think – and if you can help.

Dan – Hustler: Lacuna Digital is a platform for cyclists who want to earn money by displaying advertising as they ride – brands will pay you by the mile, more or less depending on your geo-location. All you have to do is fix the ads to your wheels, and the money will quite literally be rolling in! This could be bigger than the Beatles!

Gavin – Hacker: Concertflow love live music in London? This app allows you to see what’s coming up and watch a video of a recent performance or some archive footage. Very cool. Gavin needs a marketing or biz Dev guy to come on board and help him spread the message; concerts are back!

Robin – Hustler: Stockfrog cool name and we like the mission statement too – to make investing work for ordinary people; mobile friendly trading with low fees. Do you have 200k of funding burning a hole in your pocket to help make this platform happen?

Yannick – Hipster: uber for shopping do you love shopping? Or do you hate shopping? Ever thought about teaming up with someone who would love to do your shopping for you, or someone who’s shopping you’d love to do? It’s a brilliant idea but Yannick needs your help to add shopping to the list of things the sharing economy caters for. Yannick if you’re out there please give us more info!

Sarah – Hacker: Ironyard is a coding school that can teach you the basics and set you up for a life of solving the world’s problems (somebody has to). Got a window in your schedule, take a look at Ironyard. And kudos to Sarah for delivering a 13 second pitch, that is fast work!

Max and Hugo – Hipsters: project unnamed 2 Lloyds insurance brokers are sick of wasting time on paper trails and think you might be too – they have a plan to digitise the brokerage businesses and are looking for tech co-founders to help them win; roll up! Would be great to have your details lads?

Luiz – Hacker: EEMovel We like the fact that two founders have come all the way from Brazil to pitch at Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers. Ok so they may have stopped at Web Summit on the way but either way this is a smart property intelligence platform – Bloomberg for property data that is trialling with 1,000 users in Brazil – the team are looking for beta testers in the UK, investors, or users.

Hamza – Hustler: BiiTe Hamza’s co-founder took one almighty soaking on the night for her partner, so we think this team could be going places. Why spend hours at restaurants waiting to order when you can pre-order, via this app, and even pay before you arrive. You can submit reviews also – a similar company recently raised £6m – maybe BiiTe are next in line – they are looking for techies and investors.

And sadly, that’s the last of our Speed Pitching events for this year…but fear not, as we will be back in 2016 with an even bigger and more exciting version of this event, so keep your eyes on your inboxes for news of that!

See you all again soon and keep on hustlin’

Rob and all the HHH gang.

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