at Startup Grind
The Samsung Catalyst team wrapped up our participation in Startup Grind yesterday. It would be an understatement to say we were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the many startups we met.
We started Day One with Samsung Catalyst VP and Managing Director Shankar Chandran expanding on the idea of “data as the new oil” to a packed house. We then spent the next two days at the Sponsor Networking tent meeting with startups from all over the world. We were pleased to chat with visitors from Nigeria, Pakistan, Korea, China, Peru, and many more.
Samsung Catalyst Associate Will Fung was especially impressed with some of the personal stories that drove people to start their companies – from a company founded by three deaf entrepreneurs to a young man who wanted to bring free Wi-Fi to the edges of African countries. “People are very passionate about their startups, and the personal connection to the product strengthens that passion.”
Jonathan Charles, a Samsung Catalyst Principal, commented on the extraordinary level of commitment each startup had to what they were doing. “But that’s needed as an entrepreneur,” he said. “The world’s best entrepreneurs never give up and they have to be enthusiastic.”
We asked Samsung Catalyst Managing Director Chris Chu about his experiences. “There’s a lot of excitement and buzz – technology and the entrepreneurial spirit. This is our first year at Startup Grind, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised – and a little overwhelmed – at all the attention we’ve received.” More than 300 people stopped by to talk to us.
“We’ve seen a wide variety of technologies. Some companies are taking simple technology, everyday technology that you’d think of, but applying it in very interesting ways.”
When not at the booth, team members attended some of the many speaker sessions – from Max Levchin (one of the co-founders of Paypal), Andrew Ng (world renowned expert on AI), as well as some of the 1 minute pitches from the startups.
We attended Startup Grind Office hours, where VCs could meet startups pre-screened by the Startup Grind team, but with input from the VCs. That gave us an opportunity to learn more about the startups and their products. Some brought their pitch decks, and with others it was just a friendly discussion. We hope all of them came away with something of value!
We asked Chris if he had any advice for startups attending the next event and coming by our (or any other VC’s) booth, to make their discussion in this context more effective. “It’s good to be targeted – know who you want to meet. There are so many companies and so many investors here that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
“The key is to step back and focus on what you’re trying accomplish. Do your work beforehand – are you looking for advice, funding, or a partnership? The teams that get the farthest are the ones with very specific discussion points, so when they talk to those potential partners or investors, they have the key points ready – how the investors or partners can help them, and how they can help the target platforms and markets.”
Jonathan Charles added, “Some of the entrepreneurs had clearly practiced their pitch and were very crisp. I could tell they had stood in front of the mirror and practiced, they had worked with their team on messaging. If I invested in those areas, I would absolutely follow up, because they clearly knew what they were doing. Entrepreneurs need to be in ‘always on’ mode. No matter where you are, what if you bump into somebody who’s relevant to you? You automatically have to go into that two-minute pitch.”
Thanks to Will, Chris and Jonathan for their great advice for startups. We’re definitely looking forward to meeting more entrepreneurs at events like these this year!
If you have a startup in the areas of IoT, digital health, autonomous driving, cloud data infrastructure, or artificial intelligence, be sure to visit our website to upload your pitch deck and other information about your company so we can get in touch with you.