The vibrancy of the Memphis startup community is palatable.  Our city’s strong entrepreneurial spirit is frequently recognized in top business publications such as Inc., Forbes, USA Today.  Leslie Smith, President and CEO of Epicenter, shares in a 27sec video Invest in Memphis at StartCo Demo Day 2019, “we’re not in Silicon Valley.  Our rich deep texture is so different than what we see out on the coasts and we think that makes us uniquely special.”

If you are an entrepreneur seeking a supportive, community wide business network to help grow your business, come to Memphis!  We Are Memphis provides the low down on ‘Why the start up scene is blowing up in Memphis’ and why you need to be serious about launching your idea from one of Memphis’ many programs of entrepreneurial excellence. 

Pitch coaching for entrepreneurs

My role in the local startup community is providing entrepreneurial pitch coaching (public speaking training) for innovators and their teams, as necessary.  The summer of 2019 involved an especially exciting project at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship where I assisted the amazing PetsFurU presenter, Emily Wolfe, with fine tuning an already extraordinary pitch to present a solid business model.  Congratulations to PetsFurU for winning the pitch competition at the Crews Center then immediately pitching at the renowned StartCo 2019 Demo Day just two short days later.  

Witnessing PetsFurU showcase their new business in two pitch rounds, I learned 3 important tokens of wisdom that will help new entrepreneurs gain public speaking confidence:

  1. Ensure your company is well represented – Identify one or two team members who are dedicated to improving their public speaking presentation skills.  Strong executive leadership communication skills are critical in every step of business development.  You want to ensure your company is well represented.
  2. Prepare to pitch as if you’ve already won  Because, if you do win, you could be on stage within 48 hours presenting to a significantly higher stakes audience of investors.  Ensure that you are well prepared with at least three different pitches – a 30-60sec elevator pitch, 3min pitch and 5min pitch.
  3. Commit to connect, engage and build relationships – The failure rate for startups at the four year mark is roughly 44%.  If your concept proved to be unsuccessful after completing the accelerator program, remember you are investible!  You undoubtedly gained a ton of knowledge and skills that you can put forth into developing another idea.  You can share your expertise on a different team.  Also, you can provide worthwhile mentorship to other entrepreneurs.  Commit to staying connected and engaged.  You have value and the community needs you!

Always remember that entrepreneurship is the fuel for economic growth of the future.  Your small idea could easily turn into advanced solution to solve a problem for a lot of people.  Be present. Stay awesome.