We've all heard that getting your foot in the door is more than just being at the "right place at the right time." But there are other factors people often neglect in the timing of business breakthroughs, especially when it comes to pitching. What's a big factor in landing your pitch? Determination. And I had an opportunity to witness determination in the flesh while eating breakfast with Brian Wong, a 20-year whiz kid and the CEO of Kiip.
Although Brian and I know several people in common, including a local DJ that goes to every fundraiser in town, it took a few charming, persistent emails (in addition to his interesting story) before he made it onto my calendar. I met Brian about a year ago at a tech mixer, but this opportunity would be the first time we would actually share breakfast.
Excited and intrigued, I Googled him before we met. Ben Parr, the writer from Mashable, had posted an image of Brian cart-wheeling through the streets of San Francisco after he had raised over $4 million in funding. And, a variety of sites had videos or articles on him. Reports said he had skipped four grades as a child, graduated college at 18 and moved to San Francisco to live his dream.
As I read more, a quote from a TechCrunch interview where Brian described his pitch technique. "I like to call it Inception, like the movie. You have to seed the idea first, you have to let them think of it as well, and at the same time, you're revealing it. If you have that parallel, then you have them; the vision is now in their head." Wow, the whiz kid's technique could be a Dale Carnegie tip from How To Win Friends & Influence People. Let the funder come to the conclusion first.
Just after 8:00am Brian arrived, "sorry I'm a bit late, I was at the office sending out press releases about our new relationship with Guinness Book of World Records." Brian's company provides real-world rewards for virtual achievements on mobile platforms. And now, every Kiip-enabled game will be tracked and your achievement could earn you a world record. That certainly is memorable.
To see what made Brian Wong memorable to others, I checked in with Lars Leckie, a Partner at Hummer Windblad, one of the firms that funded Kiip. "The part of the pitch that we talked about after he left the room was his idea of creating advertising inventory attached to moments of joy, success and happiness. This is the holy grail of marketing...and we saw that Brian and his team had a shot at creating a company around this idea," said Leckie.
What did Brian do right? He provided the baseline for tip one. In order to be memorable, you or your idea has to be unique.
What else helps you move forward? As Leckie said, "We also look for founders who walk through walls to move their vision forward ... [someone who] is deeply passionate and often a little irrational and they must have the ability to motivate others to join the vision and jump onboard the team." So you see, the second step to becoming and remaining memorable is being a visionary who is passionate and persuasive.
With regard to Brian, the three descriptions that Lars Leckie used that best describe him were, "sharp intellect, boundless energy and a magnetic personality." With those in your mind, it may not come as a surprise that Brian didn't order coffee when we met.
Natural energy and passion aside, I want to ask, what makes you or your company memorable? My third tip for remaining memorable is to complete an exercise I've done with companies which is creating a three-word brand filter. One rumored filter for a successful technology company is "simple, beautiful and innovative."
What's your three-word filter? Spend some time thinking about it. Post it here in the comments section below. Practice makes perfect. "Sharp intellect, boundless energy and a magnetic personality." Now that's a way to be remembered. And personally, my vote is that Brian should be in the Guinness Book of World Record's. His start-up now employees eighteen people and he's not even old enough to legally buy a drink. This 20-year old is doing quite a few things right.