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Day 1: Get to the point and do it fast

Mike Austin, CEO of Fresh Relevance a Southampton SETsquared member company, reflects on the whirlwind that has been his first day on the
kTeams accelerator programme in Boston.
kTeams participants taken on the 14th floor of the CIC

kTeams participants: Christa, Jos, Abi, Andrew, Myself, Shakar, taken on the 14th floor of the CIC

BA brought me to Boston late last night, and after a jetlag-induced early start this morning, I arrived at the Cambridge Innovation Centre to meet the team of expert mentors for the kTeams accelerator program. It’s termed as “a Hands-on Market Exploration Program for International Startups” and comes at a perfect time for us. Whilst we’re no longer a startup, and we have more than a few clients in the USA, they’ve mostly found us rather than the other way round. As the world’s largest market for software as a service, it’s time for us to start treating the USA market with the attention it deserves. That’s where kTeams comes in for us – to help us refine our pitch and positioning to properly address the USA market.

The key difference for pitching to a USA audience is the need for brevity and focus. As the mentors put it, Americans tend to be much less patient than Europeans. Maybe they haven’t met some of the other car drivers on my daily commute in Southampton :-). The message is that Americans get pitched lots of products and services all the time – not just at work, but with the constant advertising schedule on TV, billboards etc. So their tolerance for listening to waffle is close to zero.
Get to the point, and do it fast. Bring the value proposition to the start and get the key points over in no more than 30 seconds. If they’re interested, they’ll not be afraid to ask follow-up questions.
After a morning of presentations on structuring the pitch – both long and short – I was thrown into a 10-minute pitch for a USA audience. I’m well used to pitching our service, but it’s interesting to re-think it on the fly and adapt it for a USA audience with different business practices and cultural factors.
With extensive feedback, we have another practice session on Wednesday morning before giving live pitches to an invited panel of experts on Wednesday lunchtime.  With a full program of meetings tomorrow, that means a couple of late nights.
Well, Americans don’t like to be kept waiting, so I’d better get on with it.
More tomorrow.

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