When founders spend the time, money, and energy to attend and compete at a startup conference, they want to make sure it’s worth it.
For Michael Pratt, CEO of Panamplify, an automated intelligent client reporting for marketing agencies, being a semifinalist in the 2017 Startup of the Year Competition was of extreme value to his company and helped gain exposure to the right people.
Established (created by the founders of TechCo Media) caught up with Michael before the 2018 Startup of the Year Semifinalists take the stage at Innovate Celebrate in Boston to talk about how his experience helped Panamplify and offer any advice to founders.
What are some milestones for Panamplify since the 2017 Startup of the Year competition?
The biggest one would be January 2018 when we started to double and triple our customers, and that adds a whole new set of problems - but we survived.
What attracted you to apply for the competition?
Startups are under-resourced and over-busy, and it becomes a very difficult decision to spend money on conferences and pitch competitions. [For Startup of the Year,] the Established and Consumer Technology Association (CTA) name carried credibility. I was excited to compete, and glad I did, and would tell anyone else to do so. The opportunity to compete in and around Innovate Celebrate meant there were investors that mattered to me and we’d receive visibility and exposure to people who are close to our product customer base.
We didn’t win, but honestly, I’d rather be invited to compete in the finals.
What surprised you most while competing in the Semifinalist live event?
Over the years, I’ve gotten decent at reducing down the language to an explanatory place, but I was surprised that some of that fell on deaf ears. I needed to know what I said that wasn’t understood [by the judges and panelists] and how can I improve on that. This exercise has helped me in investor and customer pitches.
Any advice for startup founders competing in the 2018 Startup of the Year competition?
You know intuitively what your edge is or you wouldn’t be in this final round. You better be able to convey that edge really fast to someone who has no idea what you do.
What are some surprises you’ve had while building Panamplify?
There’s so many surprises. I was surprised at how difficult, both emotionally and intellectually, it was to prioritize all the things we had to do. We had to throw out the things that we thought were important but didn’t make the higher priority on the list. I didn’t think it would be so hard - it’s gut wrenching - I was shocked as how hard that process was.
Any thoughts around raising capital?
It sucks. In 14 months, we pitched 295 investors before we got our final eight - it sucks, but it is what it is. I was surprised by how long it was between the time an investor was interested to actually investing and the check clearing.
How did the competition and Innovate Celebrate provide value to you and Panamplify?
I can tell that when I leave, whether it’s a conference or event, if doors have been and will continue to be open as a result of that experience. I left Innovate Celebrate feeling utterly convinced that a lot of doors were open, and I was right.
Michael Pratt will be back at Innovate Celebrate 2018 with a new experience for attendees - Digital Fight Club: Boston. Learn more at innovatecelebrate.com.
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