Pitching ideas

February 15, 2008

Pitching your ideas to investors is exciting. You have a few minutes to share your ideas, prototype or product. Your goal is to get them to want to know more about yourself and your story, and to convince them that both your people and ideas are worth investing in.

Assuming that you have a good team, presenting people is the easiest part. Pitching ideas, on the other hand, is much more difficult.

After presenting our latest and greatest adventure in technology to a couple of VCs, I can openly say that we did not succeed in pitching the idea. On one side, I hear excited customers telling me every single day how much more fun their job is, how much time and money I save them, and how they just could never go back to their previous ways of working. On the other side, I don’t hear much from these groups of investors. Bad sign!

Trying to come up with a model to describe the situation, I bumped into an article by Bill Buxton. In his article, Bill Buxton introduces a law that he calls Gradual Granularity Refinement Law. This law states that the granularity at which we distinguish meaningful differences gets finer the more our familiarity with a subject grows.

The GGR Law is about familiarity with a subject. If you are pitching an idea, and you have both a gut feeling plus feedback telling you that the idea is good, it probably is. If you managed to come up with a clever product or idea, it’s because you have enough familiarity with the problem to model things in a different way. You probably felt the pain and were brave enough to do something about it.

The GGR Law is also about granularity. Different groups of people may have felt the pain. But the more familiar you are with the problem, the easiest it is for you to distinguish meaningful differences, and therefore come up with clever solutions.

What does this really mean? You are familiar with a problem space, you have felt the pain, you have a good idea, and developed a good solution. You are making some money out of it, and you have a great team. Now you find yourself in a conference room pitching your idea to investors. How can it go wrong?

Unless you apply the same level of innovation and creativity to your pitch as you did to your problem solving, your story will just not be interesting enough for the people across the table. Why? Because it’s unlikely that they are as familiar with the problem space as you are. Your explanations may be good, and they may understand the concept at an intellectual level, but unless they understand it at a visceral level, they will just not want to know more about your idea.

I have an appointment with a very interesting group of investors in a couple of days. This particular group seems to be quite familiar with the problem space, unlike the previous ones. Plus, I now know what to do, so it should be fun.

Wish me luck! πŸ˜‰

I’m back in Montreal recovering from DEMO 08, where I had the chance to meet super interesting people and to show Cozimo to the press, entrepreneurs and VCs. Now that Cozimo is officially out the door, I’m busier than ever. Luckily enough, it’s not just about answering I forgot my password support e-mails… some interesting developments are forming and there’s still energy left for midnight hacking, so I can’t complain.

Still, I can’t wipe out from my brain the vision of Monique Savoie menacing me: “Don’t you dare hiding for a year ever again, or else!“, so I decided to go to the very first Montreal Python event. And it was fun!

David Goodger, architect of DocUtils and renowned Python activist, entertained us with one of his old-time passions: polyform puzzles.

Dominoes, Pentominoes, Polyominoes, oh my!

David briefly described algorithms involved in solving these puzzles…


… but I wished he focused a bit more on stuff like this:

Python! Python! Python!

It was an interesting presentation, and a good way to start Montreal Python’s series of events. Montreal is buzzing more than ever, and it feels really good to be part of such a vibrant community. Kudos to the organizers for a well organized event.

Setting up @ Demo 08

January 30, 2008

Yesterday was setup day at Demo 08.

Demo 08

While setting up the Cozimo station, I had the chance to meet Ben and Fred from standoutjobs.com, a great startup from Montreal. These guys really know how to generate buzz, and their product looks really promising. Congrats and best of lucks, StandoutJobs!

standoutjobs.com folks rock da house

And here’s Cozimo’s station.. number 69. That should be easy to remember πŸ˜‰

Cozimo station #69

Kudos to the Demo 08 technical team: they are competent, friendly and get things done in no time. Setting up our pavilion station and the main stage was really easy. If they only allowed for more than one video feed to be projected on the big screens, it would make our collaborative life much easier… πŸ˜‰

Demos, demos, demos.

January 11, 2008


Cozimo already enjoys a nice group of customers, but we haven’t really demoed it much yet. It’s time to go out, see the light, take a deep breath and start making noise.

So here we go! After a first presence in Toronto, we’ll be presenting our work at DemoCampCUSEC2 and at StartupCampMontreal, before flying to Palm Desert for DEMO 08.

So don’t be shy, drop by and say hi. We may even have goodies for conference paraphernalia collectors… πŸ˜‰

Γ€ la prochaine!