Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from TechCrunch Disrupt winner and Getaround co-founder Jessica Scorpio on her experiences at last year’s TechCrunch Disrupt New York.
For those of you who are planning on attending the conference this year, the last remaining tickets are still on sale, and companies who want chance to join the Battleground can apply for a couple of open spots in Startup Alley. Review the full agenda here.
Winning TechCrunch Disrupt in 2011 was an unforgettable experience that will undoubtedly remain a highlight of my entrepreneurial career. After winning the prestigious Disrupt Cup and Audience Choice Award, we signed up thousands of cars, had over 150 news stories published, and closed a $3.4M seed round.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of our win, we’re now operating in 4 major markets with many more on the way. In case you’re wondering what it takes to WIN Disrupt, we’ll let you in on our secrets:
1. Invest in a great press team - Disrupt is packed with journalists looking to uncover the “next big thing” – unfortunately, it can be hard (and time consuming) to stand out. Pitch key journalists in advance and schedule interviews. This will allow you to focus on your presentation while ensuring quality 1:1s with your target outlets. If hiring a press team is out of the question, spend time putting together a media kit with a press release, high-res images and founder bios.
2. It’s all about the presentation - Great product aside, a poor presentation will take you out of the running. Our advice: even if you’re a good public speaker, hire a speaking coach. Our coach worked with us to make our presentation flow and present in a clear and engaging way.
3. Use your time wisely - With only 6 minutes on stage, it is important to skip straight to the good stuff. Instead of spending 2 minutes on the market, outline the problem quickly and start your demo in the first 45 seconds. Focus your presentation on three main points and explain them clearly. In the final minute review the problem, your solution and capture the audience’s imagination with your vision for the future.
4. Lead your slides - Have someone other than the speaker man the laptop and drive the presentation. Take this role seriously – slide changes should be timed precisely to follow the speaker’s words. If the speaker gets off track, the driver should be prepared to help.
5. Focus your efforts – If you’re going to invest in a speaking coach, and spend time polishing your script, commit to delivering a perfect presentation. We practiced 6 hours for every minute we were on stage – ensuring at least 36 hours of practice time. This commitment will be hard in the face of a conference like Disrupt. If you plan to have a presence on the conference floor, have a separate team man the booth – you won’t have time to do both.
6. Don’t give Murphy’s Law a chance – Big moments like Disrupt are the perfect time for your server to crash or the Wi-Fi to go down. Host your demo locally and run iPhone demos through a simulator. Who knows? Maybe your presentation will generate so much traffic that your site will crash mid-presentation – if you’re working locally, it won’t matter.
7. Be ready for questions – One of the scariest parts of Disrupt is fielding questions from heavy-hitters like Marissa Mayer and Mike Arrington. Have people watch your pitch and drill you with questions several times before your presentation – develop strong talking points. Focus on answering questions without rambling – answer the question and move on to the next one.
8. Build buzz - While your presentation is the best way to wow the audience, it is important to find creative ways to generate buzz at Disrupt and online. Social media is the obvious place to start but don’t forget to find other ways to get people talking.
9. Plan to win - If you do well, you will be taking the stage twice – don’t prepare two different presentations, there just isn’t enough time. Capitalize on all your hardwork to kill the second presentation. Besides, while the audience remains the same, the judges are different.
10. Have fun - If you aren’t having fun, neither is anyone watching. Remember to smile, don’t take yourself too seriously and have a good time.