Paul and Samuel are not new to pitch competitions and their formats. Both have been board members of the Colorado Springs non-profit Peak Startup that host programs, events, and provides resources to grow the local startup ecosystem. But this pitch competition was different. Rather than the same old one, five, or ten-minute venture style pitch the competition was formatted like a boxing match with different rounds where competitors face off head to head only allowing one team to advance. The five rounds followed the same format 1) Introduction 2) Team 3) Accomplishments 4) Business Model 5) Freestyle. Rounds one and five are one minute while rounds two, three, and four are only 30 seconds. All rounds must be completed without slides or visuals. Physical props were the only thing teams were allowed to have on stage.
Tejon Tech. Paul and Samuel couldn’t believe it. They were heading to Singapore.
Two weeks later they were off to Singapore to meet with over 150 entrepreneurs and 60 startups from all different countries spanning five continents. Upon arriving in Singapore, they were blown away by two things, the well connected, immaculate, hilariously advertised subway system and gorgeous architecture of the skyscrapers.
The night before was an informal get together over drinks where Sam and Paul learned that the biggest accomplishment and payoff was getting to the global competition and conference. At the conference each startup was able to select one of five intense 5-hour workshops to help move their startup forward, meet with a multitude of mentors, have access to industry leading companies, attend the Tech in Asia Conference, and meet with investors of all kinds from VC firms to small angel investors.
Some of the startups at the competition included Freshstrips, a company that created label stickers for food products that changed color if the product was exposed to extreme heat, Edupass, which helps students get into the university of their dreams through their network of over 100 experts and a 96% success rate, companies in VR, healthcare, and more.
To qualify, all participants were split into three categories lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight based on how much funding the company has received. Teams then gave preliminary three-minute pitches to a panel of judges followed by 9 minutes of Q & A. This process was repeated to two different rooms of judges for every team. The first preliminary pitch was tough for Tejon Tech. The judges understood the concept of the product but had a hard time wrapping their head around the problems with building custom databases for small to midsize companies. The second preliminary pitch went well. One of the judges was a Managing Director of an international hosting company who was just as excited about the product as the team was. Even he didn’t have direct database experience, so, although he was excited for us, our value proposition wasn’t nearly as exciting as addressing health issues or getting underprivileged kids into college. That night the six teams that would compete head to head in the final event were announced. Tejon Tech name was not called, but Paul and Sam didn’t leave let down.
Throughout the competition the startup duo carried one of Paul’s books around for credibility. The books is the Amazon Best seller Microsoft SQL Server Bible. It instantly impressed every VC when they asked what industry experience we had and made us a lot of friends who were either impressed or thought Paul was crazy for writing multiple 1,600 page books.
The Tejon Tech duo left Singapore feeling as if they received six months worth of startup coaching and experience. Over the three days they were there, they learned from experts on how to pitch, pitched their company over 50 times formally and informally, learned what investors liked about their company, learned what investors would like to see more from the company, and made connections with world-changing startups from across the globe. Throughout the whole conference, they championed their home city of Colorado Springs inviting all of the companies to visit and experience the beauty of Pikes Peak and the city they love. Tejon Tech is often asked why they named their company Tejon Technologies. They say, “We are named Tejon Tech because Tejon St is the heart of our city. Our office is at Epicentral Coworking on Tejon, we eat at Poor Richards on Tejon, and even take thinking walks in Acacia Park on Tejon. We love our city and are here to stay.”