Innovation Showcase Is Hands-on Sales, Marketing and Branding ‘Boot Camp’ for Startups

Exposure in front of 50-60 capital sources and more than $60,000 in cash and prizes add high-stakes to high-energy entrepreneurial showcase

Deadline to Participate This Year as an Exhibitor is Friday, May 31st

Innovation Showcase, an entrepreneurial trade show that brings fundable companies and capital sources together, is one of the best opportunities for local startups to introduce themselves to the marketplace, according to two exhibitors from last year. 
 
Innovation Showcase serves the entrepreneurial community as a form of sales, marketing and branding “boot camp” in addition to the advertised pitch competition and networking.
 
Seth Daniels, director of partner success for Fathom Voice, said the hosted communications company used its presence at Innovation Showcase to introduce their brand to the community outside of their home base in Madison County at the Flagship Enterprise Center.
 
“It’s a great opportunity to get your name out and to be as creative as possible,” Daniels said. “We didn’t have the money to be the ‘biggest and baddest,’ so we kind of put our heads together and put together the most creative booth we could come up with together with our product that really made us stand out.”
 
Fathom Voice also created t-shirt giveaways with a catchy slogan that people really wanted to get their hands on and actually wear right away. By the end of the day they had given away 300 t-shirts and people were wearing them all over the exhibitor space.
 
Second-year exhibitor, Courseload, brought its professional booth property with two large computer screens and lighted backdrop to last year’s Innovation Showcase. But the education technology company approached the event the same way it did with its simpler, event-provided booth the year before.
 
“If you are a software-as-a-service company, I would hands-down prioritize software demonstration over collateral,” said Alix Grim, Courseload’s academic partnership manager. “They want to see the product. They want to see the product and play with it and know how easy it is. Product demonstrations and business cards is all we did at our booth the first year and it was a great success.”
 
Daniels and Grim both value the Innovation Showcase experience for its intangible benefits as well as its promised sales leads and capital connections. Both extolled the virtue of telling your company story over and over again in different ways to the broad and diverse crowd of attendees. They believe participating as an exhibitor at Innovation Showcase made their sales pitches better, and really informed their marketing and branding efforts with face-to-face prospect interaction.
 
According to Daniels, following up with people after the event is the most important part of being an exhibitor. No matter how big or small the lead, he recommends following up with everyone and doing your best to remember something personal about the conversation, so that they know you were listening to their challenges and will be a good partner. 
 

The Pitch Competition

Each participant in the Pitch Competition gets exactly 60 seconds to pitch a room full of 50-60 investors on their company. A visible countdown clock keeps everyone on time and the audience begins slow-clapping when the time is up.
 
Grim, who pitched Courseload last year, said that it is much harder to pitch in 60 seconds than it is in 15 minutes or more. “Don’t try to cover everything your company does; focus on three main points,” she said.
 
“Say, explain and wrap-up is how I think the old saying goes. Basically you have enough time to tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you just told them. I know that might sound strange, but it is very effective when you are trying to get a few main points across in 60 seconds.”
 
Grim said it is easy to get off track and run out of time if you are too nervous or unprepared. She started preparations by narrowing down her key points and then writing out what she wanted to say. She practiced on her own and in front of colleagues in the days leading up to Innovation Showcase.
 
There are some pretty high stakes for startups, but even though it is a big deal, Grim said she tried not to take herself too seriously because she didn’t want to get up there and freeze. Pitching to multi-millionaires, venture capital firms and other funding sources can be very intimidating, so Grim suggests trying to have a little fun, maybe, joke around a little bit, and don’t forget to smile.
 

More Event Details

The Innovation Showcase: Call for Company Pitches
 
Here’s what you need to know. The Innovation Showcase is July 11th, 2013. Applications are open now for companies who want to exhibit and pitch. The top presenting companies are competing for over 60K in cash and prizes. It’s free (but competitive) to exhibit and pitch. Companies sign up to exhibit and pitch here.
 
Now for more details.
 
This is a call to companies seeking to exhibit and pitch at the 2013 Innovation Showcase.
 
Entering its fifth year, The Innovation Showcase has grown into Indy’s premier event connecting fundable companies (of all stages) with top local and regional investors all while creating an undeniable energy fueled by Indy’s incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem.
 
This year’s event has grown even larger and will be held at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in the shadows of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
 
And this year we’re upping the stakes for our exhibiting startups. Each entrepreneur will have the opportunity to pitch to our investor panel for a chance to win more than $60,000 in cash and tangible services including:
Best of all, the top presenters from the pitch competition will gain access to the most well-known angel investors in the area. At least two presenters will go straight in that evening to make private pitches to HALO and Elevate Ventures. They (and maybe other presenters) will also gain access to guaranteed pitches to Stepstone Angels, Purdue’s P3 Alliance, IU’s Innovate Indiana Fund, Gravity VenturesAllos Ventures and xCap Angels.
 
The deadline for company submissions is fast approaching. So if you think you have what it takes to mix it up with the region’s top entrepreneurial companies — we encourage you to apply now for one of the spots in the showcase. The process for companies to exhibit and pitch starts here: http://theinnovationshowcase.com/#exhibitors

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joshua Hall is editor of techpoint.org. He writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people & events. @joshua2349