On January 29 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, eight Swedish startup companies pitched their ideas in true Silicon Valley fashion to a panel of prominent venture capitalists at an event organized by the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco/Silicon Valley and hosted by K&L Gates. There was a tangible nervous energy in the room as each company took the stage, one by one, to take their three minute shot at impressing prominent venture capitalists Bill Reichert of Garage Technology Ventures, Jon Soberg of Blumberg Capital, Ram Srinivasan of Wellington Partners, Adam D’Augelli of True Ventures and Ullas Naik of Streamlined Ventures.
The eight presenting companies were from Chalmers Born Global program, a development program designed for young Swedish startup companies with estimated big growth potential, chosen through a rigorous selection process. The aim of the program is to help speed up the creation of a scalable business by offering support in finding suitable customer segments, product/service offerings, business models and team organization. The presenting companies were Qluster, Exibea, Acosense, Movinto Fun, Marine Benchmark, Content Central, Volumental and Inside Explorer.
In the dynamic and insightful exchange that followed the three minute pitches, the venture capitalists grilled the companies regarding their business models, costs, profit margins and customer segments. The wealth of experience and knowledge among the panel was very apparent to the audience as the panelists went even further to actually offer advice on how the companies could better position themselves for future financing, how they could differentiate themselves from their competitors and even what new product offerings and market segments were available to tap into.
The depth of the advice was especially impressive in light of the diverse range of the companies presenting: everything from a toy company to a marine data company to a cloud-based 3D scanner company. Nathan Beckord, a staple at pitching events in the Valley and the current CEO of Foundersuite, served as moderator and kept the event flowing seamlessly. The panelists and presenting companies alike happily answered questions and chatted with audience members at the networking session that followed the event.