Pitch Perfect: When Competition Meets Collaboration

By Julie Mitchell, an EO Toronto member and Founding partner of Parcel

As part of our firm’s rebranding strategy for McKenzie Pitch Partners, which was anchored by the publication of founder Hamish McKenzie’s new book, we held an innovative event in New York City that showcased Hamish’s philosophy in action. Since “Pitch: What You’re Not Doing Makes All the Difference” is a guide to navigating the strategy, story and presentation phases of pitch preparation, we decided to hold a live pitch competition at the event.

In February, an exclusive invitation went out to members of EO Accelerator to submit videos for the contest. Hamish chose two finalists to compete for a consultation package: Colin Kennedy, co-founder of Neuron Global in New York, and Tim de Kraker, CEO and founder of Bardigo Smart Hospitality in Amsterdam. When Hamish contacted the finalists to set up coaching sessions prior to the competition, a funny thing happened. Well, funny, unless you know how the EO network typically works: Colin and Tim wanted to work together in advance to help with each other’s pitches. They agreed to do the coaching on a conference call, workshop-style. Honing their strategies and stories with Hamish, both got their best pitches together.

On 16 April, the two finalists presented their improved pitches to a panel of judges that included: Chris Hanahan, EO Accelerator Chair; Darryl Brown, U.S. president of Global Corporate Payments for American Express; Lisa Lisson, president of Federal Express Canada; and Pierre Bergevin, managing partner of Brookfield Financial. Colin pitched Gem Shelf, a next-generation, cloud-based content management system, while Tim sold the judges on his plans to expand his BarDoggy app, which connects bars with patrons. Also present was an audience of business leaders, fellow entrepreneurs and media. Tim’s pitch won US$10,000 worth of pitch consulting from McKenzie Pitch Partners, but both EO Accelerator finalists agreed the event was a win for all involved.

“I learned a number of valuable things from Hamish, but if I had to distil it down, the biggest lessons learned would be the importance of applying simplicity and structure to my presentations. Also, the workshop-style approach we used for the coaching sessions made the experience so much better. Meanwhile, Tim taught me the importance of letting your personality shine through when presenting.” —Colin Kennedy

“Hamish taught me that the key to getting your story right is getting the right story to tell, and that you should plan your pitch story with the end in mind. From the moment we started, Colin and I agreed on not seeing this as a competition, and we both got some open and honest feedback in return. Because we communicated in this way, we benefited greatly from the program, and it made us winners.” —Tim de Kraker

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