I had another awesome time last Saturday morning at the April Edition of Open Coffee. Here are some of my thoughts and observations on now holding four of these formatted mixers.
1) The Sharing Continues to Amaze Me
My colleague AR told me that she plans to write a thesis about how the growing Filipino entrepreneurial community is debunking the notion of Filipino crab mentality. You can see this is in action in Open Coffee. In the pitches, you will see people will share business plans, ideas, and plans to people they do not know. (and unlike in “formal” pitching venues, there is no “prize” save for the learning. What’s magical is that the audience reciprocates – sharing their own insight, personal experience, and contacts to the one pitching. (You gotta see it if you haven’t yet.)
2) Get Ready for Sheer Variety
I think this is what makes the Juan Great Leap audience a bit different from other startup communities. Just on this version of Open Coffee alone, we had pitches for: a customer service consulting firm for front-liners, an essential oil which increases productivity, a crowdfunding site for volunteers, a published book targeting young entrepreneurs, a lactation consulting play on social media, a do-it-yourself online explainer video maker, a bazaar a unique social interaction app, and a consulting firm for boutique hotels. For someone with my need for different stimulus, this is like a kid in a Toys R’ Us.
Long story short, it’s also tremendous learning.
3) For the Most Part, the Pitching Needs Work
The 2-minute limit presents a nice quandary for presenters:
How do I get my point across effectively in two minutes?
Theoretically, pitchers are then forced to be ultra-EFFICIENT, cutting less-important details for the MOST important details.
I’m not so sure this is what happens though, as most people prematurely wrap up their pitch when the two minutes are up.
I think there can be VAST improvement over how most of us present their pitches. Pitching is a crucial part of the startup life. Entrepreneurs need to be effective pitchmen for so many different, crucial things – recruitment, raising money, sales, marketing, partnerships,etc…
This is something we need to improve. (more on this soon)
4) The Platform Needs To Be a “Safe Place”
In the March 47 East Open Coffee, student Christian Go hitched with me going home. He told me he almost didn’t pitch, because he thought the first pitcher was sort of attacked. (basically people said the idea wasn’t too good)
Remembering what Christian shared, I started this Open Coffee by underlining two things. I told people that: a) they have to be extra-conscious of HOW they give their comments, and b) that ALL comments have to have some semblance of being CONSTRUCTIVE.
The resulting pitch rounds and feedback-giving were super. I think people took the two things to heart.
I do realize that there are some people who prefer the Western-style “tell it as it is in my face” method. But this is the Philippines after all, a reminder makes all the difference.
5) Bigger and Bigger
I commented on the JGL FB page that OPEN COFFEE getting too big for the venue. The March Open Coffee had 40+ participants. This April version had 50+.
From an idea I wasn’t sure would pan out,
(would people share? what if no one wants to be the first to pitch? would people give useful feedback)
I think it’s safe to call Open Coffee a success after 4 iterations.
Onwards to bigger and better versions. Thank you so much to everyone who keep on making it so!
More pics here!
(For those who are new to Open Coffee, it happens MONTHLY, with the next one coming out mid-to-late May. Stay tuned!)