PARTING SHOTS! Net Takeaways for Startups from Venture Madness 2016

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Are you thinking of taking your Arizona startup to Venture Madness? Here is sage advice from the judges to assist you in preparing for the competition.

STUDY OTHERS. Take a look at the applications for Arizona Startup companies that did well—and even won—Venture Madness 2016 (they are available on the Venture Madness website here). Use these participants and their startup presentations as benchmarks for your efforts.

BUILD YOUR BUSINESS. Venture Madness gives you an opportunity to show your stuff. When you do, Sidnee Peck, CEO of SMART Brain Aging Inc, advises focusing on your startup company, sticking to basics in your pitch. “Build a great business that solves major problem in a smart way for a lot of people and you’ll get the attention of judges in any competition—then prove you know how to make it happen and you’ll have a chance at money,” Peck recommends.

GO FOR IT. Whatever stage you are in with your startup, applying for Venture Madness is a win-win. “Venture Madness provides an invaluable learning experience to any startup company that qualifies,” advises Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “All participants will gain feedback from a panel of experienced judges on their business plan and pitch, as well as increased exposure for their company. Those who make it to the top 16 will receive mentorship, experience pitching live in front of the judges and audience of investors, and the chance to win a portion of a $100,000 cash prize that provides non-dilutive capital. Additionally, the exposure and high level of diligence throughout the process may facilitate discussions with local investors and angel networks.” Even if you may not be confident in your startup snagging a win, Randy Gustafson, Vice President of Innovation, Arizona Commerce Authority, asserts that just applying is a good exercise because the feedback you receive on your initial submission can assist you in shaping your business. “Go for it and get great help along the way from everyone you can,” encourages Greg Head, Entrepreneur, VC, and Advisor.

ATTEND THE CONFERENCE. “Even if you don’t make it to the Top 16, attending the Conference can help a company improve via networking with investors, hearing good content, watching successful companies pitch their business plans, and listening to the judges questions and feedback,” advises Gustafson. And Matt Likens, President and CEO of Ulthera Division, Merz Device Innovation Center, elaborates that all startups should participate for the learning experience—an opportunity for the management team to test their message with an independent, objective audience.

“I strongly encourage all companies to take advantage of this opportunity and apply to Venture Madness,”  urges Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. So get your startup game on and bring it to Arizona’s Venture Madness 2017.