Pitchcraft Postscript

pitchcraft photo 3
(from L-R) David Cruz, Richard Cruz, Maoi Arroyo, Me, and Karen Hipol

I had a great time at the Pitchcraft Event last Saturday at AIM. With nearly 70 people, there was a lot of energy in the air. Most importantly, I saw there was a lot of learning happening.

Just a quick summary of what happened, for those of you who missed it:

First, Karen Hipol of Carillion Partners (yup, she of the $100 million fund) came in to give the first talk: WHAT should the pitch contain. Then, Maoi Arroyo of Hybridigm delivers the second talk: HOW the pitch should be given. After a short break, the panel/simulation activity began. First a panel of experts are introduced: technology serial entrepreneur David Cruz, AIM professor and entrepreneurship expert Richard Cruz (not related to David), and Karen Hipol.  The panel and the audience are then shown 5 selected pitch videos from Shark Tank. Both the audience and the panel are given a chance to chime in after each video. Finally, the audience is asked whether they would want a chance to do REAL pitches to a select group of investors in a post-event happening in 2 weeks. (14 volunteered)

Here are some of my observations and musings, post-event.

A) Entrepreneurs are willing to pay for LIVE! 

This was the first Juan Great Leap PAID event, so I was paying a lot of attention as what would happen. Scores of people would attend our free events, so I was wondering what would happen if we attached a price tag.

I asked this precise question (would you pay P1000 for a startup course) to our JGL newsletter recipients (thank you for ALL the respondents!), and while the majority said yes, there a number of people who said entrepreneurial people (the target market) would find a ton FREE content on the web and will not pay. I found this to be a very credible argument – so I was eager to see what would happen with our own “MVP” which Pitchcraft represented.

3 weeks of marketing yielded 70 people.

There is still a large number of people who would want to learn LIVE! from experts – even entrepreneurs. I guess there is still something with a LIVE! learning session – the learning is more palpable, you learn with a community, you can network (with both audience members and the speakers), and when the content is good – there’s just a larger chance of not only education, but inspiration (try watching a training video for more than 10 minutes – even if the speaker is really good, I doubt if you’ll get the same impact).

Same reason as to why we still go to concerts even we could just download past ones.

I’m pretty happy with this development – not because I will be able to earn from it (I don’t earn anything from JGL activities), but because we can give you BETTER events and even more value-adding activities down the line.

B) Paid Tickets Magically Make Flakers Disappear

Yes, the last 2 JGL big conferences attracted around 200 people, but also had around 400+ signups. No matter how much I begged for people NOT to flake because the tickets are finite (someone will LOSE a slot if you flake), we still encountered a bunch of them. Our monthly open coffee attracts 60-70 people with around a 50% flaker rate as well.

Flaker rate in Pitchcraft? ZERO.

It’s a pretty predictable stat, but still, this makes me think.

I’ve always vowed to make what we do here free and as reachable to EVERYONE as possible. But this flaker thing is making me think. Open Coffee, because of what it stands for, will ALWAYS be free. But now I’m thinking the big conferences might actually benefit from say, a very reasonable P300 fee. (Tell me what you think!)

3. The Community Thing Is Just Awesome

It’s sappy, but it really warmed my heart to see so many JGL “regulars” learning at the event. I mean, for a number of these guys, I KNOW their stories, and where they are, and what some of their struggles are, and I just KNEW they got a lot of value.

Jode, Ricci, Tet, Mano, Burns, Luis, AJ, Alex, Romylee, Randy, Albert, Rona, Kath, Grace, John, and all the others whose names I have forgotten (because I am simply the worst “HR” person alive as far as name-face association is concerned) – thank you for supporting not only the event but JGL as a whole. I pray that we may always deliver what you guys NEED to take your ideas/startups to the next level.

4. Maoi is the REAL DEAL

Quick, think of the best stand-up comedian you know.

Now, think of the best teacher you’ve ever learned from.

Now proceed to COMBINE these.

THAT is the Maoi Arroyo experience. In a delectable mix of irreverence, wit, timing, experience, entrepreneurial knowledge and wisdom, she gave such a memorable talk that must have been exhausting to deliver (thank you, Maoi). You HAD to be there. (you can ask ANYONE who attended how this went)

(If you have a biotech/natural science-related idea and you need someone to help you get to the next level, do reach out to Maoi NOWand get Hybridigm to help!)

(more Pitchcraft pictures here)

How To Assemble Your Startup Entourage


(the following is a guest post by multi-awarded entrepreneur Maoi Arroyo)

As a junkie of all things startup, I’ve always loved shows like Bloomberg’s TechStars. Whichever season you watch, these entrepreneurship-themed reality shows try to select the best teams as opposed to the best ideas. As Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, famously said

“The view that good ideas are rarer and more valuable than good people is rooted in a misconception of creativity. If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they’ll screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they’ll make it work.”

If there’s one thing I learned in the nine years I’ve helped tech-based startups get off the ground, it’s that business is a team game, and the firm with the best team wins. It’s unavoidable that the media and the public focus on the “front men”. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Dado Banatao: the charismatic and slightly kooky guys get the attention. People gravitate to “self-made” men.

Except that there is no such animal.

Show me anyone you think is “self-made” and I will show you at least three other people who helped get them there and are wealthy enough to do anything they want.  Larry Page and Sergei Brin founded Google in 1998, and Marisa Mayer was employee #20 in 1999. If her name sounds familiar it’s because she’s now CEO of Yahoo. Why in the world would she want to be in charge of a floundering company like Yahoo? Because after you grow a company from 20 to 30,000 staff; you have enough money to  be comfortable and you can do something ludicrously risky.

So the question is: if you want to be the next Google, how do you find a Marisa Mayer? Who do you recruit to your founding team and in what order?


expertSorry, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. DOM is shorthand for the person with Domain Knowledge. You want to start a restaurant? Makes sense to start with a chef. App Development?  A programmer would be useful. Fashion? A thorough examination of the fashion portfolio and comparative analysis of chaka-ness is a must.

Domain knowledge can come from experience, education, or both. Choo Yeang Keat was a Malaysian cobbler who had been making shoes since he was 11. He built a respectable business which exploded when Tamara Mellon, accessories editor from British Vogue, partnered with him. Jimmy Choo’s shoes now sell in 32 countries for prices that regularly give husbands palpitations.

If you are the DOM, you’d better have geek cred and partner with someone who is market savvy and handle all those pesky numbers and “models” that always seems to be encapsulated in PowerPoint Smart Art. If you aren’t the DOM, find one and give them the role of Chief Technology Officer.

The Wizard

wizardSome people call them mentors, but I call them Wizards. Wizards are both mentors and tormentors. It’s Merlin’s job to tell you that this Lancelot guy you’re thinking of hiring is cuter than you and your wife is into him. It’s Gandalf’s job to call you a “Fool of a Took” when you wake up the Balrog. The Wiz is going to provide you insight to the very important baby steps you should take BEFORE you found the company. Things like technology and market validation before you waste your money on a patent. In return for this knowledge, you should give them a part of your company EVEN IF they aren’t going to be involved in running it from day to day. 3% equity up-front or 10% vested over 3 years (translation: “3 gives”); in preferred shares that have no voting rights but get paid FIRST when you issue dividends. Like any RPG, your wizards will stand back from the fray and need time to cast massive spells. Keep them with you and don’t let them get overwhelmed.

The Anti-You

oppositesIsolate the key things that are characteristic of you and find someone who is the complete opposite. I’m the kind of person who can come back from the bathroom with 20 new ideas that I want to pursue simultaneously. I have a knack for exaggeration. Math classes gave me PTSD. No one has ever accused me of shyness or humility. So I found a detail-oriented, frighteningly accurate, introverted co-founder who inhales numbers and exhales cash. Naturally you have to have the same vision and integrity, but someone you respect has to stand up to you and pull you back from insanity.

The Spartan

spartanThe Spartans embody the philosophy that makes start-ups work. If one Spartan falls, another one takes his place. They work as a single unit. All of them are leaders. Filipinos seem to live in horror of having “too many leaders”. That’s because we misunderstand what leadership is. Being able to lead well is a skill, not inborn ability. You can get people to listen to you by being charismatic; leading them is something you have to learn how to do. It’s essential to be in command of yourself before you try and command others, and you must prove yourself worthy and deserving of your team’s trust in you with your every action. A leader for a startup is not “in the rear, with the gear”. They stand shoulder to shoulder, right up front. They are the tip of the spear. They are the first among equals.

The Spartan is your CEO. On very rare occasions is your DOM a Spartan. That’s because the critical job of a CEO is sales. You know how a Founder-CEO is pitching? His mouth is open. That’s all they do. They have a recruitment pitch, they have a sales pitch, and they have a fund-raising pitch. If your CEO can’t pitch, get another CEO. There will be no cash to manage, no team to enable, no world-changing company if they cannot pitch.

You can call yourself an entrepreneur but until you get a solid team and some cash, you’re just some wannabe with a great idea. Ideas don’t change the world, people do.

Don’t stay a wannabe.

You can learn the fine art of PitchCraft on Saturday, May 25. Karen Hipol, associate director of Carillion Partners, will teach you what to pitch and I’ll teach you how to do it. Attend the event and you get an opportunity in June to get in front of institutional investors, all for one low price! (See I told you all we do is sell).  The PhP 500 discount ends on May 15th, and slots are limited. Sign-up today and build your dream team! – Maoi Arroyo

Last Two Days for Early Bird Rates for Pitchcraft!


Hey people! At midnight tomorrow, May 15, the early bird rate for Pitchcraft: How To Develop a Killer Pitch for Raising Capital and Recruiting will expire.

For the content it provides (great speakers, killer panel, chance for real pitches in front of institutional investors), I think this is a great deal, so you might want to grab tickets now.

You can do so here. 

What is PITCHCRAFT and why you NEED to attend it

pitchingIn my 10 years of HR work prior to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur, I did an awful lot of presentations and gave a ton of job offers. I thought I was pretty good doing these things, so when I made my leap into entrepreneurship, I thought to myself:

“Hey whatever ‘selling’ I would need to do for my startup I can probably do preeetty well!”

Well, I was in for a rude awakening.

Pitching is Everything in Entrepreneurship

It turns out, selling (or pitching in startup parlance) is absolutely critical in startup development. ALL the major activities in doing a startup involved pitching:

Finding Co-founders:

Yep, you have to present something  very convincing to get them to say yes. I had to go through dozens of rejections before I was able to perfect my pitch and talk my first partner into investing their time and money in me. 

Recruiting Employees:

As a veteran recruiter coming into startup life, I thought this would be chicken feed.

Then I realized just how much help a brand name like “Chikka” helped me in recruiting when I was in corporate. Or how an actual office helped (and how a pseudo-office-home arrangement doesn’t help).  Or how a recruitment budget helped.

I had to learn to use other strategies to help me.

Raising Money:

If my 2013 self saw my 2006 self doing the investment pitches I did before, this is how my 2013 self would react:



The lifeblood of any business. When my co-founder and I decided to split responsibilities for STORM during its first year, I took on the responsibility of being the “pitchman.”

After 7 years of selling for my startup, its really been only in the last few years (and I’m a pretty confident guy) that I can say to myself “I CAN DO SALES WELL.”

Prior to that, I was grasping at straws. I didn’t know what worked and what didn’t. I really learned about selling through trial and error. (I am hopeful you won’t need 7 years to get a knack for this.)

The Pitching Gap is Real and Needs to be Addressed

I’ve now heard literally hundreds of startup pitches, if you combine the pitches I’ve heard facilitating Open Coffee, hearing individuals out during Startup Saturdays, observing in Startup Weekend, and attending other startup-related events.

Here’s an observation:

Often, the best idea doesn’t get the best opportunities.

If you go to the next Startup Weekend for example, this is something you can quickly observe if you listen to the pitches: if you just rely on the idea’s merit and block out the pitch (you can do this by writing down all the ideas as they are pitched, try not to judge, and then when the pitching stops, you can go back to your list and then judge), you’d see a discrepancy between the ideas you find interesting and the ideas that actually get chosen by the participants.

So much depends on the pitchman and how he pitches.

And you know what? Collectively, I think we need a lot of work on our pitches.

(I just remembered someone I was talking to about this who was saying: “it gets worse when they think they’re awesome…and they’re really not.” This is partly why I keep saying self-awareness and humility are two very important traits to develop as a founder)

Post Startups Unplugged

After conversing in Startups Unplugged, Maoi Arroyo (no relation to the former president) and I agreed that our interests dovetailed and we needed to work together on…something.

During a recent meeting at the Hybridgm office in AIM, Maoi mentioned, “Maybe we could do an event on how to do the right pitch, targeting entrep…”

Ittookmeabouttwomilliseconds to say yes, realizing how critical addressing this gap was.

PitchCraft: How To Develop a Killer Pitch for Raising Capital and Recruiting

pitchcraft logo

On May 25, 2013, we’re doing a seminar designed to teach participants what exactly the formula is on executing the right pitch, specifically for raising money and finding partners/recruitment.

It shall be held at the Fuller Hall of the Asian Institute of Management in Makati, from 1pm to 5pm.

This will be a paid event. Early bird rates (valid only up to May 15) are at P1000 for professionals and P500 for students (with valid ID).

Regular rates are at P1500 for professionals and P1000 for students (with a valid ID).

Here’s how the event will go:

1. Introductions

2. Keynote

3. Panel Discussion

4. Q&A

5. Post-Event: Real Pitching to Real Investors (Around a week after the Pitchcraft event, all interested participants shall be invited to do their pitches in front of real investors. This is the real thing!)

The keynote speaker for the event shall be Maoi herself. We’ll be announcing who the panelists will be soon enough. 

I think Maoi’s the perfect choice for giving this seminar (I actually can’t wait to attend this myself). Her firm, Hybridigm, is a startup incubator specializing in biotech. She’s been helping startup founders hone their pitches for more than a decade now. (And if you’ve ever met her, you’d know it’s going to be FUN).

I find that one of the VERY interesting inclusions here is the Post-Event. We figured, the best learning happens during ACTUAL pitches right? So what did we arrange? A real pitching event with real investors.  You can get to apply everything you will learn form the Pitchcraft proper onto an ACTUAL pitching process. (If you think about it…this is AWESOME)

How to Register

1. Send payment to:

BPI Account No: 0321-0230-61
Account Name: Hybridigm Consulting Inc.

2. Send a photo/scanned copy of the deposit slip to Angeli at angeli@juangreatleap.com

3. Angeli will send you an email confirmation (and an ultra-quick survey) to confirm your slot


You could pay online:

1. Purchase the tickets online by clicking one of the buttons below:

buy now button

RATE FOR STUDENTS (Students) – P1000
buy now button

2. Send a copy of the Paypal receipt to Angeli at angeli@juangreatleap.com

3. Angeli will send you an email confirmation (and an ultra-quick survey) to confirm your slot

Register NOW!

If you are an aspiring/current entrepreneur from ANY field, I suggest you register as fast as possible to reserve your slot (150 slots only).

Let’s make our pitches count, eh? 

Pitchcraft: How To Develop a Killer Pitch for Raising Capital and Recruiting is being brought to you by

JGL with textand


with the help of our sponsors:


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