The quarterfinals were fast and furious, three minute pitches with two minutes of questions afterwards. With 12-13 companies pitching per night, there was a lot of information to process. Each new presenting company was pitching almost immediately after the last one and for the un-prepared investor it was a Jim Cramer lightening round dizzying even the most savvy trader.
With the quality and excitement of the companies, the dizziness quickly wore off and all the investors began diving in with questions that went to the heart of the businesses being presented. The room was filled with incredibly intelligent people who have backgrounds in technology, business, the medical field, etc. and the questions that filled the two minutes almost always provided enough insight for the investors to understand where the company stood relative to the co-presenters that evening.
I previously mentioned that the whole vetting process started the week before where we discussed the 42 companies that submitted and we narrowed the list to 30 companies before inviting any of the companies to pitch. This first quarterfinals night will be followed by another, then another cut round, then the semi-finals with 10min pitches, another cut round, and then the finals with only six companies presenting at the actual conference (that you should attend Seattle Angel Conference III btw, if you want to see six fairly well vetted early stage companies).
Back to the companies in the quarterfinals. The companies were drastically different than each other from tech to genetics to devices. They also were coming in at various stages, some with customers and some without. Some with actual products and some without. Some with great business models and others had only great ideas. The key for the group of angels was to sort out which companies had which components. Further, the angels were trying to decide which companies had great potential in an industry that the investors wanted to be in.
As the pitches continued, the beer consumption slowed to a snails pace and the note taking was much more furious. There were some obvious highlights to the process. Some of the investors loved the products and founders, while other companies languished in the two minutes set aside for questions searching for an investor to show interest.
By the second night of the quarterfinals, the investors were ready for action and prepared to for the fire hose to shower them for the night. The questions were more refined and the investors much more confident. Luckily, the companies presenting were also prepared and forced the investors to think carefully about the potential failures and successes the presenters would endure in the future.
I took a lot of notes during the presentations and after talking to some of the companies afterwards. There is an amazing amount of information that you can get in a five minutes from a company presenting and twenty minutes of conversation afterwards. After two nights (over two weeks) of pitches, the quarterfinal competition phase was over and the investors would be meeting to make some cuts. In the next post in my Seattle Angel Conference 3 series, I’ll cover the cut meeting for the quarterfinals.