2015/03/17

Connecting Professionals And Work: Reverse Pitch Events

A reverse pitch event for entrepreneurs is generally seen as having corporations pitch project proposals to an audience of entrepreneur interested in developing solutions that meet the corporations’ needs. This type of event helps entrepreneurs focus on solving recognized problems in their regional market, problems which companies will pay entrepreneurs to solve.

In the entrepreneurial world, a pitch competition is an opportunity for selected startups to pitch, or present, their company’s concept and business model to potential investors in hopes of securing investment in their startup. The concept of entrepreneurial reverse pitches seems to be young enough that it’s not yet well-defined. The specific goals and format for reverse pitches will evolve over the next couple years as the established companies and entrepreneurs figure out what works best for each of them.

One reverse pitch event from 2013 was described as an opportunity for startups to secure sales or investment from established large corporations.
“...The reverse pitch event is intended to help start-ups in the critical effort to find sales channels and to provide a way for established companies to engage with the entrepreneurial community...Start-ups will be chosen to participate through a competitive application process. Those selected will have 20-minute pitch meetings with the companies. Each large company has agreed to send a senior executive or manager, and to purchase from, mentor or invest in one of the start-ups…”
A 2014 reverse pitch competition in Chattanooga had funded project proposals.
“...corporations will pitch funded project proposals to an audience of entrepreneurial problem solvers — the reverse of the usual scenario...AC Entertainment/Aloompa, The Blackstone Group, the City of Chattanooga, EPB, FedEx, PlayCore, Smith & Nephew and Unum...will present projects, which all have assigned budgets attached to them, that address their enduring pain points or emerging challenges…”
One alternative direction reverse pitches could take is an event where entrepreneurs help established companies develop the request for proposal (RFP) for projects the companies want done by third parties. The established companies may not even be aware of potential solutions and might unknowingly structure their RFPs in a way that excludes those solutions.

I hope to identify some of the reasons companies have participated in reverse pitch competitions, or why they might in the future. I'll also write about other emerging or non-mainstream tools and concepts for connecting professionals and work.

If you’ve participated in a reverse pitch event, whether you represented a startup or an established corporation, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’d like to learn more about your experience and how you think reverse pitch events can be improved.

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Here are links to a few past and future Reverse Pitch websites:

Videos from KCNext Reverse Pitch 2014: http://www.kcpt.org/reverse-pitch-2014-kc/#

 Videos from LaunchTennessee Reverse Pitch 2014: http://launchtn.org/ReversePitch/

SwitchPitch; Washington, DC, NYC, LA and Miami: http://switchpitch.com/

LaunchWisconsin 2015: http://www.launchwisconsin.com/reverse-pitch/

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