Preparing and delivering the perfect pitch, now, that’s a “Unicorn”…

A quick Google search for how to “pitch a VC” will yield plenty of links to advice, mistakes, secrets, tips, guides, lessons, examples, videos and so on that can eat away at your time whilst also being a source to inspire, confuse and contradict.


The HBO series “Silicon Valley” TV series sums up a number of approaches to pitching in a nice 2 min parody of TechCrunch Disrupt.

To me, pitching is a fluid thing, there is no “perfect pitch”: no perfect deck; no preferred approach; no killer elevation pitch. Pitches are contextual; an Angel or seed round is different to a Series B, a pitch for user acquisition funding is different to a pitch for scaling up product sales, a pitch at a startup event is different to a pitch in an enterprise.

Everybody has their own preferred approaches whatever side of the funding fence they are on and I’m pretty sure that there is no magic formula that has been followed by “Unicorns of Tech”.

Most pitch advice is related to early stage where the need to quickly articulate the problem, solution, market, team and potential revenue is the main focus and then there are gems like this from Reid Hoffman re: LinkedIn Series B.

Below is timeline of resources that I have personally found interesting. From this curated goal there are tips, how to’s, things to cover, mistakes to avoid, contradictions, and even a 5 week Coursera course.

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Web citations to Office Mix to Khan Academy…

Microsoft Office Mix totally passed me by until recently.

I first came across whilst searching for articles or videos on how to cite a website and came across a link to “Citing Websites” as embedded below:

Meet Office Mix:

We’ve heard from teachers that it can be difficult and expensive to make online lessons. Creating online lessons takes multiple pieces of expensive software, some of which are expensive or require serious technical skills, like complex video editing and timelines. All just to get a lesson online.

Our goal is to make it easy to create an online lesson or presentation with something you already know how to use – PowerPoint. We call these online, interactive presentations “mixes” and the tool created to build them is Office Mix.

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Rapha–a UK cycling brand where the only products I own are roundels…

I was vaguely aware of Rapha when I got back into cycling regularly again during 2012, but only really took notice after joining a Strava “Rapha Rising” challenge and subsequently receiving a rather nicely designed and manufactured “roundel”.


The origins of the name Rapha come from the 1950s when the Tour de France organisers refused to allow openly commercial teams – hard to believe today.

The Original Rapha”:

Say “Rapha” and many cyclists will associate this with a London-based company producing semi-retro styled cycle clothing. But this start-up has appropriated a slice of history as it tries to evoke tales of epic rides and hardened riders for its brand.

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Twitter Fabric

Twitter Fabric, I need to know what it is, what is it?

Fabric by Twitter, Twitter Fabric, was launched in October 2014 as part of Twitter’s Flight conference for developers. The tech media covering the launch reported it as a way of Twitter “mending fences and building bridges with the development community after restricting API access to timelines a number of years earlier”.


Twitter Fabric is a cross-platform mobile development suite of tools aimed to target development, testing, user acquisition and business growth phases of any mobile app.

Initially Twitter Fabric launched as a consolidation of 2 recent Twitter Acquisitions (Crashlytics and MoPub), a new “onboarding” tool called Digits and numerous SDKs into three “kits”.

The Fabric (fabric?) products are categorised into: App Stability, Identity, Distribution, Mobile Analytics and Monetization:

Twitter Fabric Products

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Frictionless by design?

Robert Scoble’s newsletter post about “Frictionless Sharing” got me thinking about what the term “frictionless” means to me – can’t find a link to share but here is Robert on email newsletters from 2006 and a link to sign up to his newsletter Smile 


In Robert’s post he refers to “frictionless services” such as Uber and Tapingo that tap into the inferred mobile device authorisation to subsequently remove friction by carrying out processing activities automatically “in the background”. These processing activities may be handling the payment processing automatically so that you don’t have to show a credit card, or enter details or, heaven forbid, actually pay in cash. Other processing activities may include tighter integration with the vendor order systems so that your coffee may be ordered and ready waiting for you because that is always what you do in the morning on the way to work.

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The Unicorns of Tech? odd term, gaining traction…

Calling something a “Unicorn” kind of implies a mythical, not able to be evidenced thing to me, however, “unicorns of tech” is a thing and is gaining traction over the past year.

The “tech unicorn” phrase first appears to be coined in late 2013 by Aileen Lee from Cowboy Ventures in a Techcrunch Post.


In this post Aileen presents her “learnings” from research based on “a dataset of U.S.-based tech companies started since January 2003 and most recently valued at $1 billion by private or public markets” with “big caveats that 1) our data is based on publicly available sources, such as CrunchBase, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia, and 2) it is based on a snapshot in time, which has definite limitations, here is a summary of what we’ve learned”.

The definition put forward by Aileen for a member of the “Unicorn Club” was “U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors” – Facebook was also included as a “super-unicorn” worth >$100 billion.

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Content Creators, Aggregators and Curators, what has happened to the Curator?

The two roles that stood out for me in Richard Scarry’s21st Century Busy Town Jobs” cartoon were those of “content creator” and “content aggregator” – although the “web design complicator so that users will accidentally click on ads” role did make me smile.


It seems then that the “curation” phase is over?, was nobody able to monetize it or has it just evolved into a human role that helps teach the algorithmic aggregators like a CAPTCHA teaches the OCR?

Flipboard like their “creators” to be curators of content that they aggregate:

“You’re more curating than you are creating: endorsing and recommending content,” says McCue. “Curating is a much easier thing. We’ve been watching our beta testers, and they have been creating all sorts of amazing magazines.”

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Attributing journalists to content and discovering their social identity

The more that I subscribe to RSS feeds and consume “content” via RSS feeds in apps such as Flipboard or Zite the more aware I am becoming of the article author(s). This is compounded by following more journalists on Twitter and seeing their Tweets promoting their work that reinforces for me the connection between them and their content – I am finding this a useful filter for sources such as the Guardian where I tend to look for the author by-line before reading the article.

However, there appear to be a lot of unsung journalists who do not receive any attribution in a “formal” by-line or if they are attributed there is not link to find out more about them and maybe “follow” them on Twitter or other social networks.


In terms of identity Twitter has become the default social profile for journalists taking far more prominence over LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. For TV news the @handle is the simplest and most effective to convey and newspapers are even curating pages dedicated to their journalists like The Times Twitter Directory (old version), or Bloomberg who provide profile pages for “Opinion” authors together with embedded Tweets and and RSS feed of their articles (rare to see an RSS feed for Bloomberg!).

RSS is the predominant technical means of syndicating content. RSS feeds comprise of a “channel” section relating to the whole feed (eg “Business news”) “items” relating to each article, these channel and items sections all have “elements” that are used to mark-up and describe the content. From an attribution point of view the RSS <item> element caters for an <author> and suggests usage relates to an email address but also notes that some developers do not use this to avoid spam. Where an RSS feed is published by an individual (as opposed to multiple people publishing items in the same feed) the RSS Advisory Board recommends using the channel managingEditor or webMaster elements. Email address does not seem very “social” for each item and managingEditor or webMaster does not seem very “personal” from an attribution point of view.

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Social signal overload and social “communities”

Tools in social media to provide a validation signal to the creator in terms of “like”, “favourite”, “kudos” etc. have become the norm but along with them comes the danger of dilution through liking everything and implicitly stating that every blurry badly taken Instagram is a “favourite” of mine when clearly it isn’t.

I can appreciate, admire and enjoy a post, photo, Strava ride etc. but don’t want to feel like I have to publicly “cheer” and endorse every one of them!

Cheers! by marc thiele


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