We sat down with Will Clausen, Founder and CEO of Cartogram (and winner of the 2017 BSW Pitch Competition!), to discuss his startup, their experience with BSW, and his tips for pitching.
(Reminder that you can apply for the 2018 Pitch Competition, and it’s $10,000 prize, here: http://boisestartupweek.org/pitch/).
Can you describe what Cartogram does, and why you decided to found the company?
Cartogram navigates anyone or anything from anywhere to anywhere – inside, outside, and between buildings. In particular, for hospitals, we help patients navigate seamlessly from their home, to the correct entrance, and ultimately to precise location of their appointment inside of the hospital.
Thinking back to Cartogram’s status during Boise Startup Week 2017, can you share a little about the progress you’ve made over the last year?
Following our Best Pitch win at Boise Startup Week 2017, we started a conversation with Boise Angel Alliance which ultimately led to meaningful investments from the fund as well as from individual members. My first job out of college was in Boise at HP, so it’s a great place to continue building relationships in the investment community.
Can you describe your experience at last year’s BSW Pitch Competition?
We won! (*laughs*) You know, I always enjoy getting up on stage and telling Cartogram’s story. I see other companies burning through so much money just to “get to the the next round” and that’s not what we’re doing here at Cartogram. I take pride in what we’ve built, and the way we’ve become profitable in such a short period of time.
The BSW Pitch Competition gave us an opportunity to share a glimpse of the investment opportunity we had at the time and ultimately helped us fill out a portion of our round. Our Boise investors are among the most supportive folks on Cartogram’s cap table.
Do you have any words of advice for this year’s Pitch Competition participants?
You have to convince yourself that you’ve got a great idea that will be successful before you can convince investors. The best way to convince yourself is to go get a customer to write you a big check.
Raising money takes a lot of time and there is no shortcut. Starting out, I would practice my stage pitch so many times, for so long, that I would lose my voice.
Set up a video camera and do your pitch while recording. Initially, you’re going to notice small quirks in how you move, stutters, filler words… get rid of all of those. A great business that’s poorly presented is not a great investment in the eyes of early-stage investors.
Slow down. You’re probably talking too fast. This is the #1 most common mistake I see, and the most common mistake that I am personally guilty of from time to time. When you’re really excited about your message, it’s easy to lose track of your pacing. It’s also a sign that you’re nervous.
This year, BSW is partnering with VentureCapital.org to provide pitch coaching and mentorship. We’re also working with Idaho’s Small Business Development Center, which will help MC the event on Wednesday, October 17 at JUMP.