The Agony and the Ecstasy

by

This is a guest blog post from Peter Cory Myers, a recent transplant into the Bay Area.

I botched my first real pitch. More than a pitch, it was also my introduction to the small and volatile club that the world knows as Silicon Valley. In a caricature of bad pitches, I was unprepared, nervous, up against professionals, and going first. Comically, my product was probably illegal.
Predictably, it bombed. I stumbled slowly through the selling points I could remember, as I scanned the audience and a hundred conversations came to mind. Don’t say “We think…”. Don’t say “I have to be honest…”. Don’t forget to have the numbers to back up your claims.
I did all of these things.
The judges were not eager to make eye contact. Out of courtesy, they asked me some questions during the Q&A, where my insufficient answers were flatly rejected. And the interesting thing is… I am delighted by this outcome.
It was great. It was exactly what I wanted to happen, in some sense.
Am I crazy? Well, probably not more than most entrepreneurs (which means “at least a little”). I came to Mega Startup Weekend for the same reason I abandoned a decent paycheck to come to California: to learn, to meet people, and to find interesting ideas. I also came to fail hard, because if you don’t screw something up, you aren’t playing in a high enough league.
The people involved in the event were a living manifestation of characteristic I have read about this community – bright, open, friendly folks loaded with cool gadgets, ideas, and resources.
People came from all over the world to take a shot at building what was on display Friday afternoon, as Steve Case and Reid Hoffman exhorted a rapt audience to disrupt their industries they way they had disrupted theirs.
I was stunned at what people were able to prototype and launch in a weekend. Even the judges were impressed (so much so, they awarded an extra winner). The best pitches had great business models and products IN THOSE MODELS on display.
Sitting down after my five minutes, I apologized to my seventeen-year-old teammate for giving a disappointing pitch. She said, “Don’t worry, you’re new to this.”
She runs a startup full-time.
Startup Weekend was my second weekend in the Bay Area, and I couldn’t have picked a better event to set the pace.