At this year’s TiE Convention (TiECon) in Sydney Rhett Sampson pitched and won the prize of a flight and entry to TiE Convention Silicon Valley which has over 4,000 attendees from around the globe. He also won $100,000 hosting with Softlayer and IBM. I caught up with Sampson a few days after he returned and he looked remarkably well rested which is amazing since he says he met over 200 experts, entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists in the two weeks he was there. By networking with so many people in such a short space of time he relates that he learned two key things: How to pitch your idea in 15 seconds and how to improve his value proposition: “People in Silicon Valley are not afraid to ask hard questions and you better have a good answer!”
Sampson attended the excellent 3-day pre-conference workshop which was run by Bridgett Comer of TiE Global followed by the weekend long conference itself. This allowed him to hone his proposition and attend three key events: Mentor Connect (which is where he had lunch with the CTO of Walmart and an Indian Billionaire); TiE50 Pitching (the top 103 of 2,700 companies had 10 minutes each to pitch and he was one of them); and Founder Connect (where founders have 2 minutes to pitch their ideas to potential co-founders). He also attended the VIP welcome dinner and a dinner with Vinod Kosla, another somewhat more controversial Indian billionaire.
I asked Sampson what were the three major differences between Sydney and Silicon Valley and he responded: “1. There is a massive amount of money there and it’s all for tech; 2. Everything is fast. People speak faster. The elevator pitch is faster. Everything is fast; and 3. It feels like a gold rush at the moment: everyone’s looking for the next Uber or Google”. The over-riding lesson is that if you have an idea you should go for it, hustle and make your idea work rather than sit back and hope for it all to happen.
What about GT Systems? “My pitch is much better and I’ve learned a lot about how to pitch my idea and who my competitors are. Winning the TiE Sydney competition gave me immediate cache when speaking to people.” And you personally? “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in business. Period.”
What could I add? As it happens Sampson had one last comment that made me think: “Did you know that the population of Silicon Valley – the area between San Franciso and San Jose – is the same as Sydney. But every one of them is doing Tech, funding Tech or servicing Tech start-ups…”
So perhaps we should be doing better?