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Getting the message across

IN today’s tough tech environment, the two-minute business pitch has become more vital than ever, a fact discovered by a group of university students last week.

Contesting the final of the World Championships of e-Business Pitches, students had just two minutes to pitch their original idea to a panel of judges, many of whom had started their own IT firms with an innovative idea and a pitch to a venture capitalist.

The heads of some of WA’s most successful technology companies, including adultshop.com, METHOD, Pretzel Logic, Sanford Securities and PIVoD Technologies, heard pitches about e-textbooks, barcodes, digital photography and CD burning.

UWA engineering and commerce student Karyne Wong won the four-person final with an idea to use mobile phone short message services to book tickets to performances and events.

Coordinator Dr Jamie Murphy said the ideas pitched were a big improvement on last year’s event. He said although research and attention to detail were important in the speeches, enthusiasm was vital.

“So much of it is enthusiasm and how you sell yourself,” Dr Murphy said.

Sanford Securities chief executive officer Steven Goh agreed. He said venture capitalists didn’t invest in the idea, they invested in the person.

Mr Goh said it was a tough market, both in Australia and globally, for individuals to gather support for e-business innovation, but it was possible.

“If you look at the capital market it appears a lot of it has dried up. But I think there is still a lot of investment happening,” he said.

“It’s important to understand that after this massive shift one way, into a boom, and then a massive correction afterwards, there is a middle ground out there. There is real business out there being conducted online. There are 40,000 users logging onto Sanford’s website each day, for instance.”

However, Mr Goh said the days of two-minute pitches might be over.

“We went through a stage when the two-minute pitch was characteristic of the business world,” he said. “But I think these days a two-minute pitch gives you 15 more minutes of attention. It gives you a foot in the door for more time.

“But if you can’t deliver you idea in that 15 minutes, you’re finished.

“And I’ve done that before. I’ve been in Sydney having 40 meetings a day and it’s not easy to always do it right.

“I think the two-minute pitch is very much from the US. It’s an American way of doing business, particularly in New York and on the west coast.”

Ms Wong said she believed her winning pitch about SMS ticketing was a feasible idea once the back-end details were worked through.

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