Hanadi Jabado is managing partner at Sana Capital. She sat on the judging panel for our Sixth Sense Pitch Day. Here are her take-aways from the teams that made an impression.
The Sixth Sense judging day saw 13 smart manufacturing start-ups pitch to a panel of experts and I was delighted to be one of them. They all did extremely well and I was really impressed with their passion and energy. Here are some elements of the pitches that really stood out to me.
- Commercial thinking
It was refreshing to hear pitches where making money featured high. Rather than getting lost in the details of the research and the science, they were making a real effort to illustrate how their products could be commercialized. Whilst it is good to be passionate about your innovation, investors want to know if you can back it up with the right business model – there comes a stage in the life cycle of the product development where return on investment is much higher on business model innovation than it is on science and technology innovation.
- Good communication
Talking about deep tech and in-depth science can be difficult to a wider audience. I really appreciated those who were able to speak plain English – an even harder feat when English is not your first language. The most convincing pitchers where those did not hide behind scientific words and explained their innovation as simply as possible. We shouldn’t need a PhD in engineering to understand what you say when you pitch.
One of the teams encountered severe technical difficulties and we had to stop their session and get them to restart from scratch later on. They did not let it put them off at all and, in fact, they came back even stronger after the interruption. I really liked this, I thought it was a great example of cool heads and strong resilience.
- No assumptions
Some of the start-ups had pre-existing relationships with Hexagon and in those cases, there might have been a temptation to skip over some of the details because you think the judges already know a certain amount about you. Luckily, they did not. Assuming prior knowledge is dangerous in a pitch and you should always pitch to the people in front of you as if they don’t know anything about you.
- Bring some diversity
Across the event, the diversity was rich with teams from across the globe – we had Indian, Chinese and Brazilian pitching companies together with European businesses, live across 10 time zones – I was a little bit disappointed that all the presenters were male and that the diversity that we were seeing across the 13 companies was not reflected within the individual teams. I like to work with senior management teams that have a vocation to be diverse, not just in gender, but also in ethnicity and in complementarity of skills and backgrounds.