Recently, Tello Talk – Pakistan’s first messaging app was in talks and hype for winning its spot at Google’s Demo Day APAC Finals 2019. Among 11 global startups, Tello Talk stood tall to represent Pakistan with its fully homegrown messaging platform on a global stage, and made us even prouder!
Tello Talk didn’t top the result but brought home some great insights that are hardly discussed with our local startups, struggling to get their hands in the global market.
The insights that Shahbaz has shared with us are not just eye-opening but thought-provoking and will help startups to look into aspects while opting for global audiences, investors and accelerators.
The Experience At Google’s Demo Day APAC:
Absolutely fantastic! It’s hard to tear oneself away from the mountain of work back home, but Google wanted us to prepared on the big day (Wed 19 June) and got us in early (Sun 16 Jun). We spent a full day pitch training in Google Partner in Thailand (Hubba), another day refining the pith at Google Thailand offices and finally presented at the Demo Day on Day 3.
The pitch was 4 minutes with a 3 minutes Q&A and Google didn’t mess around with that and wanted every one sharp and precise on the big day. So they got Ginny Radmall a Presentation Coach (and trained stage actress) from London to make sure we had our pitches polished, all our words economized and also train us on voice projection and stage presence.
Shahbaz further says, it was a fantastic learning experience and even though I have pitched a thousand times, this training really helped me personally to learn how to trim the pitch down to the essentials and also present a bit more confidently.
CEO’s Personal Observations:
Here are Shahbaz’s personal observations and
- Unfortunately, we observed we had to “sell” Pakistan first before we could pitch the platform. So much time is spent setting the stage due to lack of information in the audience, (which is a lot for them to digest) that it distracts from the product itself.
- We also observed that even after displaying the sheer size of the opportunity in Pakistan, people were apprehensive and a bit cynical of any digital success over here. This holds not just true for investors but partners as well. Therefore platforms positioned globally claim to have a better chance.
- MedTech/EdTech is red hot right now. Winners from both Demo Days in the last 2 years were from these fields.
- Anybody who’s in device-based solutions is wary of concerns regarding piracy of device from China. The answer is patent protection. The winner this year – MoDoo had 24 patents in their name and approvals from the Chinese equivalent of FDA.
- Other fellow startups, even at such an early stage, were earning serious income. Hong Kong – Device Based Music Training, Soundbrenner and Wahyoo from Indonesia – Canteen Automation and Branding) have consistently increased income in folds in a couple of months.
- But here’s the kicker. To earn more they also spend more. Soundbrenner alone spends five figures a month on FB advertising to generate sales in 6 or greater figures.
- Even the youngest startups spend over $15,000 in just Google/AWS Cloud services.
- Personal stories and emotional narratives make for the most impactful pitches. Both winners had that in common too.
Tello Talks – Wins:
One of the biggest “wins” for us was obviously being screened and selected by Google and the media coverage it brought. Alhumdullilah a few investors who were on the fence with us signed up so that was very useful. But two more tangible benefits also materialized. One was that all Google Campuses worldwide are available to any of the finalists if we want to use them as a workspace while visiting, connect with investors, clients or Google products teams in that region. Google for Startups will arrange it if we request it. Secondly, there are certain Google products that we wish to integrate (and receive guidance for) in our platform and we have been connected with the respective teams for that as well.
Insightful Recommendations For Local Startups:
Shahbaz has strong faith that there’s a great chance of winning next year for any startup focusing EdTech/MedTech. For these events, just add the globalization opportunity of your platforms. If possible, let’s also try to get processes or device patents. Investors love those. And above all, build a business, show SALES.
He paid a very special shout out to Jehan Ara, Founder of The Nest I/O and Akash, The Program Manager. None of the opportunities would even be possible for us to pursue if not supported by them.
He said people in Pakistan have no idea how big of a superstar Jehan Ara is there, especially to the Google for Startups team. They love her almost as much as we do.
We’re thankful to Shahbaz for sharing his insights with us and is contributing in helping other startups to buckle up and get going before setting out for global audiences.
Don’t forget to check out Tello Talk and chat freely with crazy stickers, and rich content. Most importantly, you get the freedom to communicate in your favourite local language – Sindhi, Urdu, Pashto, Balochi and Siraiki. What more do you need? It’s time to promote and support local.
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