Category Archives: Presenting

Pre-Launch PR for Early Stage Startups

The teams in the 2014 HTRLaunchPad are past the halfway point and we’re seeing exceptional progress as evidenced by the refinement of their business models and their stories. What typically started as ideas expressed vaguely has coalesced into specific solutions to targeted problems with a marketable audience. There are a few struggling with the end game but we think they will be seeing  things come together before the demo days here in Rochester and in NYC.

So it’s time to start thinking about publicity– getting the word out about the teams. PR is something that can be done with a small budget accelerated by some hard work and creativity. The LaunchPad process helps get that going as each team works towards their goal of talking to 120-150 people about their concept. We’ve had some local news coverage for the program as a whole but it’s now time to be thinking about using the media to tell each company’s story.

Fortunately the FounderDating blog has an excellent post, written by an entrepreneur, on early stage PR for startups:

Pitching Practice: A Public Relations Launch Checklist for Early-Stage Startup Founders

This is comprehensive and I’m urging our teams to study it and begin developing their pitch, their story, their relationships with bloggers in their field and all the other pieces that go into a compelling story for the media. It’s an important part of their customer discovery process and each bit of coverage increases the value of their startup, often in significant ways.

Mentor/Advisor Intro To The 2014 HTRLaunchPad Teams Friday 2/21

Tomorrow, Friday Feb 21 at the Brainery in Village Gate (entrance between Empada Steak and Dark Horse Coffee, go straight, turn left, it’s on the right). The session runs from 3-5pm.

This is the second Mentor/Advisor Training session and will include brief intro presentations by the new startup teams chosen for the 2014 HTRLaunchPad.

Elevator Speeches For 12 Software Startups Finishing The HTRLaunchPad Program

Last week, in my communications role, I sat down to write brief descriptions of each Team’s business model for a press release. It was promoting our upcoming Demo Days in Rochester and at the Levin Institute in Manhattan. I realized as I wrote them that even a few weeks ago it would have been difficult to be this succinct. The teams’ progress in refining their model and messages made it relatively easy.

Here is the first shot at it (please note that many of these company names are works in progress):

All Access Menus
Accessible (For hearing and sight-disabled patrons) restaurant menus displayed via mobile apps, that feature food photography and descriptions created by customers. The incentive for the photo collection is a rewards system for the best shots.

EnergyWise Partners
The Energy Wise software platform measures usage of thermal energy generated by geothermal energy systems. The data it sources provides energy investors and sellers with the ability to create an open market in geothermal energy-related financial instruments.

GradeSnap now known as R-T Connections
Gradesnap successfully executed a ‘pivot’, a major change in direction driven by their discovery process, and now offer a new way to connect highly skilled technology students with companies’ specific needs, bypassing the traditional recruitment process.

Gradfly
Gradfly is a social network/portfolio site where STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students can create a profile, showcase projects they are working on with photos and videos, and earn badges in various disciplines. It creates an accessible resource for universities and businesses looking for the best and brightest.

SnapEval/Immense Analytics
SnapEval is a mobile application that managers can use to keep employee evaluation notes in real time. This builds a data set and structure for more accurate employee effectiveness measurement and for identification of trends in management effectiveness across an organization.

LifeSUDS /Symptom Reporting
The LifeSUDS application (mobile/web), developed by two psychologists, enables the collection, in real time, of patient experience of symptoms like anxiety attacks. This offers the therapist the ability to observe the patients experience in a more accurate framework when they are not present, resulting in a more effective therapeutic outcomes.

MyWriting Mate

MyWritingMate works with MS Word to capture a writers habits from behind the scenes, including pace, pauses and stops, cut and paste, corrections, and more. The writer gets insights into their writing habits and writing teachers can see their process, enabling more tailored coaching and teaching.

New Digs
New Digs is a web site and mobile app for landlords serving student markets, and colleges seeking a means to monitor security and quality in off-campus housing.

Parts Dashboard
Parts Dashboard is an affordable application designed to manage complex parts inventory in design, engineering and manufacturing environments.

Qmetrics
Qmetrics displays MRI information in a 3D format with color highlighting, enabling radiologists and orthopedic surgeons to more accurately identify problems with knee and other joints.

Quantum Loop/Winokur
Winokur is an ecommerce and social marketing platform for independent wineries. It offers a mobile application for consumers and wine aficionados exploring wineries, and a sales platform for the wineries to manage and sell their inventory.

Roc Innovations/Railcomm
Railroad operators face major safety issues based on the position of switches, stuck crossing gates and stuck brakes on railcars. Roc Innovations offer inexpensive, remote, cloud-based monitoring of these issues via wireless hardware installed in the field.

To learn a lot more and see their refined presentations, get your free tickets to the Demo Day, June 4th at Geva Theater.

Elevator Speech = Value Proposition

Our Roc Control Innovations team posted a blog post about their search for an elevator speech. I’ve done some coaching in the comments (which were in moderation as I write this, but should be live soon). Here’s why this is important. Getting your value proposition down to one sentence means you are very close to discovering your business model. I took their speech and refined it down to a sentence and then added a few variations for when they are talking to non-railroad people (in the comment chain).

So you get something like this:

“We offer railroad operators reliable, cloud-based switch and crossing gate status reporting at a fraction of the cost of existing systems.”

Now if your audience are not railroad people you might want to add a note about safety issues:

“This is a safety issue. Unknown switch positioning and  stuck crossing gates are a leading cause of railway accidents.”

The audience will get it.

I would like to see every team phrase your value proposition, on your canvas, as an elevator speech. This one defines the audience/market (railroad operators), the problem (switch and crossing gate status), the solution (cloud-based reporting), and the value/return on investment (fraction of the cost of existing systems, implied safety improvements).