We participated in the pitch contest at “SF Japan Night SemiFinal”. The following is my 5 min presentation slide then. The competition was to pick the 6 finalist teams among 17 to go to SF. We could not make it although I have nothing to regret with my presentation.
<”Real Fight” - Lovely nature of the competition>
In the real business world, it sometimes matters who you know and where you belong to more than what you know and what you do. However, this competition cares what you do, why you do, and how much you look promising.
It was more like going into a real fight of 5 minutes 1 round boxing match, and I loved this format. You would be literally shut up if your presentation went even 1 second beyond 5 min. This is much harder than giving a 1 hour speech.
I was so nervous that I felt my stomach ache when I came back to my seat after finished my presentation. I had not had such an experience.
<Is MessageLeaf a Japanized service?>
I talked to several judges to listen to what they thought about MessageLeaf. The take home message was that they liked it but felt it too “Japanized (Japanese specific)” and did not think very scalable.
As all the judges were foreigners and knew Japanese culture, it is understandable that they thought being shy in front of others was Japanese specific problem. Our hypothesis is that there surely are many foreigners who are as shy as Japanese, not showing their thoughts or feelings in the socialized tool such as comment field. Such shy folks are just invisible in this socialized web community. We also think that even for the people who are not shy, there surely are some moments that they prefer 1 on1 communication depending on the subject. However, this can be proved only through accumulated facts. We need the results to show that this service can truly be international.
As for the scalability, I think the definition of the term matters here. MessageLeaf surely is not as “scalable” in terms of # of users as many social tools. We value more the depth of messages than the number of users as we think our users are on the same page. Such depth and meaningfulness of the communication would result in a form of business. However, this also can be proved only through accumulated facts.
It was great to know that people tend to think this service not international or scalable, anyway. That means we are not competing in an apparently sexy market, which is good as we have good time to strengthen our service model.
Finally, it was a great experience to know that there still are many promising Japanese startups who are young, highly motivated, with a conscience. Most of them did a great presentation in English, and showed good insights with their services or products. You can see their services or products here.
I wish a great success in their next presentations to the finalists, and would like to show my appreciation to btrax who held and managed this great event!