Impressions on the Entrepreneur Pitches

I have tried to look at Ingenia and Recombo with my venture capitalist hat firmly on. I have quickly realized what Elsbach’s paper has also suggested. It can be quite difficult to cut through the pitchers’ creativity and to not be carried away by their enthusiasm.  Making these kinds of decisions can be very weighty, and perhaps somewhat subjective.

Initially, a few things have struck me about the Ingenia and Recombo pitches.

Both pitches seemed to indicate they had a strong core team. By the nature of the business I think it was important for Ingenia to make mention (as Ramona did) of the credentials of their team, and the fact that they had a pool of external consultants to draw from. Ingenia did note that “infrastructure was something to think about in Vietnam”.  What was not so clear to me from their pitch was specifically what thinking they had done on this. Perhaps more info on this would have been useful?

Ingenia also seemed to be facing a fair bit of competition in the local market. Ingenia was very open and candid (too much so?) about their competition. Targeting the SE Asian market seemed to be their way of helping to address that. Ingenia was also open about being new to the Vietnamese market. Their plan seemed to include leveraging some existing contacts, which increased my level of confidence. Again, as a venture capitalist, I am not sure that would give them enough of an edge?

I wasn’t sure about what the existing market share might be for Ingenia and how much this new market might figure in their future plans, or really what their future plans were. Recombo addressed this issue more directly.  They did not seem to have one fixed exit strategy, but I was pleased that they articulated some possible scenarios.

From Recombo’s second pitch I really felt that they have identified their market, share, and size. The pitch was very clear about their product, services, what the benefits are to their customer and why they will pay-up.  As a VC I found the description of their  relationship with the lighthouse customer reinforced my confidence here. The pitch demonstrates a good handle on the business problems going forward. The incentives idea also seemed to me to show some creative forsight in planning their business model.  In moving through their transition year, I got the impression that Recombo are capable of absorbing lessons, adapting, and moving forward.


1 Jim Tattrie { 09.10.08 at 9:25 pm }

Hi Joey,

I agree with your noted caution that, “It can be quite difficult to cut through the pitchers’ creativity and to not be carried away by their enthusiasm.” To this I would add that it might also be prudent to make every effort to disregard the personality of the person(s) delivering the pitch, as much as we may tend to make judgments one way or the other.

The pitch is about investment and investment is less about the individual pitching as it is about the product / idea / company that is being pitched. Perhaps when considering small companies the person pitching will have a great effect on the companies future performance and in these cases personality should be of consideration, but I would argue that this is far less likely to be the case with larger companies.

I would sure hate to miss the boat on a profitable investment opportunity because I couldn’t see beyond the pitcher to the pitch, or the forest for the trees if you will.

Please don’t think that the personality judgement caution that I bring up is a comment on your posting, it’s not. Your caution just prompted me to get something out there that I had been thinking. Probably because I had a bit of difficulty getting beyond the personalities we were presented with myself (I found the Recombo representative to be a bit too elusive/vague for my liking).


2 Joey Dabell { 09.11.08 at 10:06 am }

Hi Jim,

You make some good observations. Investment can be a tricky balance of caution and leap-of-faith.

As you noted, in some cases that dynamic pitcher can really motivate not just investors to invest, but also his/her colleagues/employees to do amazing things. Sometimes they are a driving force that leads a company to success. Other times, as Elsbach observes in How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea, the pitchers greatest skill is playing-to-type. I’m sure there are other times when they are both and perhaps more. There are virtues in all of these, I think. As venture capitalists, perhaps the key, and the tough part, is knowing how to read between the lines?

3 nancy castonguay { 09.12.08 at 9:06 pm }

Hi Joey, you made similar remarks to mine with respect to Ingenia. I thought that more should have been discussed with respect to the growing economy of Vietnam, and that a more detailed analysis of the developing and/or existing infrastructure might have helped the catcher better the Ingenia vision… I also picked up on the prevalence of the ‘competition’ in the pitch and was hoping that she would address this by showcasing Ingenia in a superior light…

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