How to Impress the Judges at Startup Weekend Final Presentations

04/11/2015 | By Theresa Grotendorst

This post originally appeared on

On sunday evening it's time pitch your business idea at the final presentations in front of the judges.  All of your hard work boils down to a 3-minute pitch.  Have you validated your idea with your target customer or market? Have you interviewed anyone and found anyone who will use your product? Have you figured out the revenue streams that turn the product into a business? Focus your efforts over the weekend on building a functional minimum viable product. If you don't have a prototype, do you have mockups or wireframes of how your product will look like? Don’t go for pretty, go for usability! Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, that you can execute, and that you know what you’re doing.

Here is a rundown of what the judges consider:

  • Business Model – Can this idea make money? Is there positive customer growth or revenue? Is there a customer acquisition / rollout strategy? Has a revenue model been defined and is it realistic? Is the idea/team ready for capital and execution? Would you invest in this company at this point?
  • Customer Validation – Did the team identify customers (demographic, location etc)? Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers? What channels of communication are used? Product/Market fit?
  • Technical – Execution Is there a functional product ( the case of an app, did they build one)? Is there a prototype or at least mockups/wireframes expressing the functionality of the product?

    Which services did they integrate with? How much of the product is running on a real server with non-sample data?

  • Design – Execution Does it have a professional look and feel? Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Is it memorable? What key insights were gathered over the weekend to go in this creative direction?

Some more tips on how to impress the judges:

  • Keep the judging criteria in mind while working on your idea so that you’ll rock all the sections. It's best to make as much progress in each of these areas as possible. So, don't put all of your eggs into one basket: don’t make beautiful mockups without validating your idea. Live demonstrations of prototypes are always great to have by the end of the weekend. However, don't spend too much time on getting things working. In the end you need to convince the jury by selling a vision and having a proper business model.
  • Give someone the job of brainstorming the hardest questions that the judges will ask. Figure out how to respond to all of these questions from vertical integration to alternate routes to monetization, competitors, etc.
  • Since you only have 3 minutes, we do not reccomend to have more than one person pitching on stage. Make sure that you pick somebody awesome that has a bulletproof understanding of the business.
  • You’ll be in a room full of 120 people who are vying for each others’ attention. If you aren’t able to express who you are and what you want to do clearly and quickly, people will have trouble remembering you.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Start practicing your pitch early in front of your group!