March 11, 2020

Our latest experiment: Weekend Pitch

A peer-to-peer pitch program to help founders tell their company story. Apply here.

Last year we kicked off an experiment to find and support promising side project builders. We called it Weekend Build. Over 650 people and teams applied and after rounds of interviews, 10 were selected to participate.

Over 8 weeks we all met Sunday mornings over a video call to share updates and gather feedback from one another. We also opened our rolodex, introducing builders to experts in marketing, engineering, design, and other fields for focused office hours.

Some teams made tremendous progress, and we achieved the goal we set out in starting Weekend Build: To help more companies get started and support founders in a unique way.

Feedback is key

During Weekend Build, we solicited anonymous feedback. A common theme emerged: Builders found the peer support and feedback incredibly valuable.

Here is some of the feedback we received from builders:

Being alongside not just any founders, but highly motivated and likeminded people really helps with the mental aspect. Knowing there are others like you going through similar challenges, a forum to ask for and give feedback, that sort of thing.”

The main benefit has been the learnings and perspective from listening to the other founders + Vedika and Ryan every week.”

“Thank you so much for kicking off this program. It really ended up mattering much more to me than I thought. This sense of community, collection of smart people, all the good feedback and ideas… Was a real pleasure and an experience I will treasure.”

Building something new, especially by yourself, can be incredibly isolating. Having an external party to provide feedback can be motivating and unlock new ideas. For many of the builders, Weekend Build was the first time they told their story to a group. The more they talked about their company, the clearer their story and strategy became.

The new experiment

With these learnings in mind, Vedika and I landed on our next experiment[1]: Weekend Pitch.

Over the last six years, I’ve pitched Product Hunt countless times, to investors, future teammates, press, and others. The pitch — and storytelling in general — is crucial to fundraising, recruiting, and selling yet most founders have little experience or “tooling” to improve their story.

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda.”
— Steve Jobs

But good stories take practice and mature through feedback.

The first pitch I made for Product Hunt wasn’t great, in large part because I was stuck inside my own head. It’s difficult to predict how others will interpret a story without practice and feedback.

Weekend Pitch is a pitch practice program for founders. It will be 100% online over video to ensure it’s accessible to founders around the globe. While this might be most useful to those preparing to fundraise, it’s also made available to those not actively raising as the value of being able to tell a good story goes beyond fundraising.

Here’s how how the program will work:

  • Selected founders pitch their startup over video to other founders (powered by Swyg[2])
  • Every founder will also get pitched to by other founders. Over the 1 hour session, founders get an opportunity to pitch three times and review 3 pitches
  • After each pitch and brief Q&A, the audience rates the founder’s pitch across multiple dimensions, such as: Was the pitch clear? Did the founder illustrate clear domain knowledge or experience for what they’re building? How interested would they be in taking another meeting?

A note on confidentiality: Founders may share sensitive details that must remain private. By participating, you agree to keep these details private. We take this very seriously.

What’s in it for us?

We’re doing this for a few reasons:

  • We know how important a strong storytelling is to a startup’s success and want to build a scalable system to help founders improve their story
  • We want to make fundraising more accessible for founders who don’t have pre-existing relationships with VCs to “break in”
  • We want to find promising companies to invest in from outside our own network

If this resonates with you, apply to join our first session by Sunday April 5. We’ll follow up with selected founders with more details.

Have questions? We tried to answer common questions here.

If you have any questions, or you’re thinking about some of this and have ideas on how we can make this a success, drop us a line at ryan@weekend.fund or vedika@weekend.fund. 😊

[1] When we say experiment, we really mean it. Like Weekend Build, our goal with Weekend Pitch is to learn how to be most helpful to founders with their narrative and like any good MVP, test some of our assumptions.

[2] Shout out to Vincent, founder of Swyg for working on this with us. His tech is normally used for recruiting, so our use case is a bit atypical. :)

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