What I learned from judging a dozen startup pitches

Recently I was involved in judging startups for 2016 cohort of Mass Challenge business accelerator.

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Last week I had the pleasure to judge Mass Challenge UK startup pitches.

Over couple of evenings we heard 12 different pitches from a variety of startups.

It was a bit like Dragon's Den, but with less pressure on the founders and a broader view from the judges.

It was the first time that I got involved in this kind of activity in such a formal way.

Managing expectations

I wasn't sure what to expect.

I kept an open mind as this was as much a learning experience for me as it was for the startup owners.

One thing became immediately obvious.

Those founders who put time and effort into designing their presentation were received much better.

There are certain pseudo standards for pitching a business to investors.

Finding some good templates for presenting your business nowadays takes two minutes of work.

What worked well?

Businesses that stood out the most applied Design Thinking to everything they presented.

The best founders designed: themselves, product, pitch, their answers, style of presentation, insight analysis and breakdown as well as their entire approach to the event.

The ultimate aspect which those founders designed where their calls to action.

So when we asked them why they wanted to join Mass Challenge, they had a clear answer to that question.

The end result was that the most designed businesses ended up getting the highest marks all round.


I had no expectations from this event and kept my mind completely open.

In the end my conclusion was that designing your business will help you even before you start.

How do you design your business?

You apply copious amounts of Design Thinking to everything you do.

Jason Grant, CEO of UX Coach

Published on: 09 Aug 2016

See also

Corporate Design Thinking Coaching
Corporate Design Thinking Coaching

UX Coach offer outreach corporate Design Thinking coaching workshops for up to 20 people over few days.

What is Design Thinking?
What is Design Thinking?

A short overview of what Design Thinking is and how it relates to other forms of thinking.