Entrepreneur First demo day has been and gone! Just like that, six months of blood, sweat and tears were bundled up into a four-minute presentation, and luckily, everything came together on the day.
The EF team are presentation Gods, and really helped me raise my game during the final few days. Here are some lessons I learned about public speaking:
- Pauses feel twice as long to yourself as they do to the audience, and they are extremely effective.
- "Make yourself big. You're a small guy, James" - aside from wearing the tallest shoes I could feasibly get away with, a few large gestures seemed to work well. It felt unnatural at first, but I think it helped me communicate the scale of what we have planned for Encore.
- Get someone to read out random lines from your speech. After each line, recite the next sentence straight away. This really helps your recall, and means you won't forget to ask for money in a fundraising pitch! (This happened in my dress rehearsal. Oops)
- Record yourself, then compare to the script. Not only does this help you iron out any minor mistakes in your wording, but it really helps you refine your sound.
- Enjoy it. The days in the run-up to the pitch were a real rollercoaster as my script underwent drastic changes every few hours. By the time it came to presenting, however, I was really excited to get up on stage, and the speech itself just flew by. If you care deeply about what you're talking about, revel in conveying that to your audience.
The most common question I've been asked since pitching has been
"What happens next?"
Well, for a start, we've graduated from the EF accelerator program, so we're now a real business finding our feet in the real world.
We have big ambitions for Encore, but we can't get there quickly as a team of two. We're keen to hire three people to help us improve the site at a rapid rate, and to do that, we need money.
The main purpose of Demo Day was to attract investment, and we've had good interest over the last few days, both from angel investors and Venture Capital firms. The next few months are going to involve a lot of meetings where we discuss our plans for the future, answer questions designed to assess us as a money-making venture, and get to know the people potentially joining our board.
This process could last a while, so I have no idea when we'll get money in the bank, but we're confident we'll find the right investors for us. I'll keep you posted!