Extinction of the Pay-to-Pitch Dinosaur

Lately, many folks have asked me why I’m against pay-to-pitch events. Is it personal? Do I hate the profiteer promoters? The answer…. hell no, it’s not personal, it’s reality.

Is it personal that people no longer buy film? Do they hate Kodak employees? Do they want to see Kodak employee families on the street? Did digital photography say, let’s bankrupt Kodak by disrupting the Kodak business model?

Look, there’s nothing that is offered in a pay-to-pitch event that is not available for free in today’s social media, meetup driven, AngelList world.

Entrepreneurs have opportunities to pitch, get coached, and get in front of investors through myriad free venues like AngelList, or Founders Corp, or Dingman Angels or many of the fabulous DC Tech and Baltimore Tech community events put on during the year.

There are at least 400 slots per year for companies to pitch real verified check-writing investors that cost under $100 to attend. Less than 20% of the companies pitching at these events are getting funded. That means we don’t need more events, we need more check writers or better companies.

If 80% of the companies who present at free events aren’t getting funded, what do you think the chances of getting funding are for a company that was rejected from a free event? Not only are these companies less likely to land investors, they damage their brand by saying, “I need to pay to get in front of investors.”

If you pay the big bucks to pitch, you’ve proven one or more of the following:

  1. Your company isn’t investible
  2. You might have a good idea but you don’t have the hustler DNA required to be successful
  3. You don’t know where to invest your time and money
  4. You’re lazy
  5. You’re desperate

I’m asked, what’s your beef with so and so who runs such and such pay-to-pitch event. It’s not me. I’m not the person who disrupted their business model. I’m not the reason pay-to-pitch went the way of the Dodo.

This isn’t a personal thing against anyone trying to earn a living by getting people to pay for that which can be found for free. It’s like when my mom asks me if she needs to buy film for her digital camera. I tell her no. Not because I hate the CEO of Kodak, but because I love my mom and I don’t want her wasting money buying film for a digital camera.

I love entrepreneurs! I care for startup founders and I don’t want them wasting their money and damaging their brand by paying to play at a pay-to-pitch event.  And if that hurts someone’s current business model, it ain’t my fault that we don’t need their pay-to-pitch film in our digital camera pitch events.