Diary of a student entrepreneur 2021: Part 6

In the sixth episode of our Diary of a Student Entrepreneur 2021 series, our young founders talk about preparing for demo day.

Every summer LaunchBox, Trinity’s student accelerator, offers 10 start-ups €10,000 in equity-free funding and a place on the three-month programme. Follow how these start-ups get on here.

LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures.

To sign up for the upcoming Launchbox Online Demo Day on 27 August go to: https://lbox2021demoday.eventbrite.ie

Diarmuid McGonagle, co-founder of Fonz Music

Young man wearing bandana.

“Balancing a new Fonz Music App overhaul, physically relocating to Dublin, and preparing our Demo Day pitch has been challenging – but all things considered, I love a challenge”

Dragon’s Den through the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society (TES) last Spring was a very rude awakening for me. Having spent the previous six months building our product, designing for the future, and creating sales channels, I knew our business inside and out. I was supremely confident in Fonz Music and equally confident in my ability to explain the enterprise to a panel of judges.

I was eliminated in the first round.

I decided to watch the Dragon’s Den Finals the following week and took notes on what the top teams did properly. Although I knew the ins and outs of Fonz Music, I saw that I had done a poor job of properly explaining the concept.

With that self-reflection, and some refining of the presentation, I was properly prepared for my second ever pitch: to get onto LaunchBox 2021.

With our initial pitch almost six months ago and our ultimate LaunchBox Demo Day fast approaching, it has quickly become top priority to redefine our messaging. Like the first go around, we’ve spent the past few months focused on product, rather than pitch.

However, the LaunchBox programme has spent significant effort in preparing us for this day. I am fiercely confident that our presentation will be much closer to our initial LaunchBox pitch rather than our Dragon’s Den pitch.

Balancing a new Fonz Music App overhaul, physically relocating to Dublin, and preparing our Demo Day pitch has been challenging – but all things considered, I love a challenge.

Heather Bruton, co-founder of UniPeer

Young woman in coffee shop.

“The biggest challenge that comes with pitching is trying encapsulate everything your startup is and strives to be in just a few minutes”

The biggest challenge that comes with pitching is trying encapsulate everything your startup is and strives to be in just a few minutes. I could talk about UniPeer for hours, so trying to be succinct can actually be incredibly difficult.

Luckily, LaunchBox has provided me with many opportunities to practice and with each pitch, our pitch deck gets better. I looked back at my team’s very first pitch deck the other day, the one that got us into LaunchBox, and I was amazed to see how much it has changed and improved.

In some ways, it feels as though the whole LaunchBox programme has been building toward Demo Day. I’m nervous, but I’m also eager to see what questions the judges might have because, while I know my startup backwards and forwards by now, I am ready to be challenged.

Our LaunchBox mentors, Aimee-Louise Carton, co-founder of KeepAppy, and Paul Barlow, CCO of Medialocate, have given our team invaluable advice on what to include in our pitch. As Paul and Aimee are both seasoned entrepreneurs, they have also helped us to set down a concrete and achievable timeline for our next steps after LaunchBox.

At the moment, about 90pc of my efforts are focused on delivering the best pitch we possibly can for Demo Day. The other 10pc is thinking about our launch strategy. I have realised that we need some help growing our presence on social media and around campus in order to onboard users to the platform, so I will be seeking advice on this and maybe even consider hiring an intern. The next few weeks are going to be hectic, but it will all be worth it to see students connecting with each other in their first few weeks at university using the UniPeer platform.

Evan Mcgloughlin, co-founder of Diglot

Young man with dark hair wearing white shirt.

“Learning how to tell your evocative and passion-driven story in a succinct manner is the single biggest challenge to every entrepreneur during a pitch”

I find telling stories to be a difficult but incredibly powerful tool. Eugene Theodore, CEO of SagaSquared, has been helping us figure out what the Diglot story is. Running any kind of organisation there are endless stories that can be told. Running a book company even more so. How we bring together these different stories to produce the unified story arc of Diglot will always be a most present and ongoing issue. There is no correct answer or best story, just what people feel inspired by in those moments. This is something we will hope to get more help on in the future.

Pitching is a form of storytelling that presents many difficulties. How do you compress thousands of hours of work into a single 5-minute pitch? How can you possibly hope to communicate the passion and faith you have garnered for your baby within that short timeframe? As a parent with a one-year-old infant, all you desire to do is to discuss your progeny in as much excruciating detail as you can summon. This is how every entrepreneur feels but in a pitch, is a recipe for disaster. Learning how to tell your evocative and passion-driven story in a succinct manner is the single biggest challenge to every entrepreneur during a pitch.

Demo Day is an incredible opportunity we LaunchBoxers get to tell the story we have been building over the past couple of months. Trying to take in as much as possible from the incredible founders and thought leaders that came in to tell their story.

I have started to learn what encapsulates an evocative story through listening to my own emotions during these talks. When I felt motivated and inspired when the goosebumps rose even through a computer screen. Demo Day will be my opportunity to use what I’ve learnt to connect with the audience and unlock an emotional response through telling the Diglot story.

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.

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