Startup Stampede III - 1

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Startup Stampede III - 1
Durham's third Startup Stampede came to an end Monday at Beyu Caffe with good food, cold beers, and two-minute closing pitches from a handful of impressive startups. The startups didn't just have polished business models—they also communicated their ideas effectively to a packed house.

Here are five great pitching tips from five of the evening's Stampede company presentations:

1. Get Their Attention Early

Some audience members talked during some of the pitches. But everyone stopped to listen to The Art of Cool Project, which started its pitch with a dynamite trumpet solo. The company is passionate about brining jazz to Durham, and because they had the room's attention, they could effectively share that passion with everyone.

2. Tell A Story

Alekto's Tiffany Smith started her presentation by asking the audience to imagine applying for a mortgage but getting stymied by a stubborn credit report error. Then she revealed that that situation had actually happened to her company's founder, inspiring him to start a company to fix that problem. It was an effective technique because —and I hope I'm not blowing anyone's mind here—humans love stories.

3. Embrace a Cool Graphic

Granted, this one takes a bit of preparation in advance. But when Offline Media unveiled a picture of a hunched computer user with the caption, "when did this become social," the audience understood their philosophy immediately.

4. Make It Personal

Speaking of computer-screen hunching, Freshly Given's founder explained how she started making handmade accessories as a break from typing all day. Then she brought the house down when she revealed the women modeling her handbags were her mother and sister.

5. Show Your Work

SeamHappy makes customized promotional products, and it put two on display during its pitch: a giant pillow for Chirba Chirba Dumplings and a cape—yes, a cape—for Bull City Burger and Brewery . Bonus points: the products were modeled by the companies' leaders. Was it a memorable pitch? Let's just say that if need a giant plush dumpling, I'll always remember who to call.