StartUp Challenge: Are you ready for pitching #SiliconValley style?

On August 14 we selected the five winners out of the 10 finalists to our Swisscom StartUp Challenge. In preparation for the trip to the U.S. in October, we met for a workshop with the winners to define their objectives for the trip and to make their pitch more “Silicon Valley style”. I’d like to share the advice we gave on pitching in Silicon Valley, on how we organize the week to make the most out of it for the five teams and some of the expectations the entrepreneurs have towards the trip.
This year’s group of startups is unique in that many have already been to Silicon Valley and/or have lived there for some time. Nevertheless, it was good that we had the chance to benefit from one of Switzerland’s most experienced pitch trainers: Not only has Beat Schillig been an entrepreneur and investor for more than 25 years, but also he has coached well over 1,000 pitches.
Beat Schillig

Beat Schillig


Content: What do you need to grasp the attention?

According to Beat, there are 4 core elements to any pitch:
  1. Who buys what and how? Describe the business model in one sentence, not just mention a fine piece of technology.
  2. One impressive number has to be in it: e.g., size of the business opportunity / business case (“xM CHF in sales in 2019”). People want to get involved with something of significance, not a small niche.
  3. Can you show traction? If you don’t have users or revenues yet, it can also be a big name on the board or substantial interest from a prestigious customer.
  4. Call to action: What do you want – investors, partners, etc.? Don’t just end your pitch without a request or goal you’d like to achieve in this meeting.

Format: Which types of pitches do you need?

We discussed four different formats that need to be prepared for the week in Silicon Valley:
  • Elevator Pitch: 1 minute verbal presentation, can be used everywhere, e.g. at networking events, informal meetings, conferences. No lengthy explanations but catching tagline. You can find a great how-to guide here.
  • Email introduction: Short written intro similar to the elevator pitch with a concrete request to arrange a meeting. In order to increase the chances, the message has to show how the other party could benefit from an encounter. We will use this email format to arrange individual meetings for each startup.
  • 1 page fact sheet: Self-explanatory one pager with core information including funding and contact data. Use not only text but the graphics that you have in the PPT presentation.
  • 5-minute presentation: 3–5 PPT pages to introduce the product / company at the beginning of a more formal meeting. You can have backup slides but should be prepared to get your message across in only 5 minutes.

Some sound bites from the startups

We are working on the individual schedule for the startups and will share it with you when we are blogging live from Silicon Valley. For the moment, we have gathered some sound bites from the winning startups about their expectations concerning the trip to Silicon Valley.


How did you feel at the end of the kick-off day? What was your highlight?

Lea von Bidder (Ava): The idea of the kick-off day was to get into the “Valley Mood”. There were many things contributing to this, especially the call with Rikke Blix Hagemann, the professional and valuable feedback from Swisscom and also the experiences of all the other entrepreneurs present. I particularly enjoyed meeting the other members of the group and to learn more about what they are doing. We are all different, but there will be many challenges that all of us face.

Simon Heinzle (Crowd): It really was an intense day – especially Beat Schillig’s critical input definitely helps a lot to prepare for the Valley.


Are there specific learnings that you are taking with you from this day?

Vitus Amman (Monetas): Your pitch always can be shorter!


What are your concrete objectives for the week in the valley?

Yosef Aktman (Gamaya): We would like to explore the striving ecosystem of Silicon Valley for the chance of getting inspired and finding strategic partners across multiple domains of our activities including sensors, nano-satellites, unmanned aircrafts, AgTech, Big Data, as well as financing.

Lea von Bidder: We plan to prepare our official launch in the U.S. This includes meetings with key opinion leaders as well as providers such as logistics partners. Furthermore, we plan to initialize our activities to gain regulatory approval and find out which is the best way to set up our customer service. 


What do your preparations for the week look like? 

Simon Heinzle: Research, research, research! Identify possible mentors, find a way to get an introduction, and optimize our pitch to their individual story.