CareMonkey, an Australia-based startup, left Slush 2015 as the winner of the annual Slush 100 pitching competition. During the year 2016 CareMonkey will focus on expanding to markets outside Australia and fuels its growth primarily by cash flow and additional funding from the founders. CareMonkey provides a risk management system that automatically keeps medical and emergency data up to date and makes it instantly available on mobile devices. It is time to hear Troy Westley, CEO at CareMonkey, reflect on the pitching competition at Slush 2015 and his outlook for 2016.
It has now been two months since Slush 2015. Now that the dust has settled a bit, can you reflect on the experiences you had at Slush?
My Slush experience is quite amazing really. I was there because I won the Melbourne-based Slush pitching competition in March, earlier in the year. I thought it would be a terrific opportunity to get up in front of an international audience and talk about CareMonkey.
I was last to pitch in the final and I didn’t listen to the others before me, I knew they’d all be good and I didn’t want to hear someone else’s great pitch and put me off my game. My pitch went well, I hadn’t presented to 7,000 people before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and walked off stage happy that I’d given it my best shot. Winning the final was an incredible feeling. I didn’t care about the prize at all. I cared about the validation of our company internationally, that we’d been judged by three different investor panels at a global event and had come out on top. I’m still pumped about it now.
Pitching competition aside, Slush was the best IT conference I’ve attended — and I’ve been to plenty over the last 25 years. The atmosphere, excitement, presentations and the activity was second to none. I was impressed. Slush is a ‘must attend’ event for serious start-ups.
CareMonkey won the pitching competition this year at Slush. What reasons do you think contributed most to your success?
The overwhelming feedback that I received was that CareMonkey had real customer traction, that our value proposition was easy to understand and that we solved problems that virtually everyone can relate to. In today’s environment families care about health and safety as do organizations who have duty of care obligations. We’re helping schools, sports clubs, camps, scouts, businesses and other groups provide better care while eliminating paperwork for all involved. The combination of health, safety and productivity resonated well with the judges as it does with our customers and the fact that we have many organizations using and paying for our service showed that we’d validated our market and business model.
What is your advice for startups that are preparing for a pitch? What are the key factors behind a successful pitch?
There are many well documented structures for pitch decks that cover all the necessary details investors (and judges) are looking for so obviously you need to follow that structure. To make a compelling pitch though requires a lot of thought and effort in getting it right. Some of the things I do to make a compelling presentation are:
1. Prove traction at every opportunity. For example, if explaining a feature do so by referencing how one or more of your customers use it. That way you explain your feature and validate with a reference at the same time.
2. Make every statement count. When preparing your pitch apply the ‘So what’ test in regards to everything you say and everything you have in your deck. How does this statement I’m making or slide I’m showing get people excited? Will anyone really care about this? Will this get people nodding their heads? If not, you’ve still got work to do.
3. I’ve been selling technology solutions for over 20 years but I still practice for important pitches like Slush. When you’ve got a fixed time limit you’ve got to be spot on. When practicing your pitch, say it out loud, don’t just say it in your head. Whether it’s for 5 or 7,000 people…know exactly what you’re going to say for each slide. You haven’t got time to wing it.
4. Be bold and be passionate, show that you care about what you’re doing and that you’re committed and giving it a red hot go.
Can you describe the current outlook for CareMonkey for 2016?
We’ve just had two very profitable quarters and are now investing in our US and European operations. We’ve proved we have a very useful product and a solid business model. It’s our challenge this year to create a successful business outside of Australia. To do this we’re looking for and working with distribution partners (referral partners and resellers) who are already trusted suppliers to the organizations we want to sell to. We’re very happy to share revenues with our partners and help them grow their own successful CareMonkey business.