Last month in Startup Stories, we spoke to Andrew Micheal, the founder of tech startup Visdea – an innovative app which is working hard to revolutionise the retail advertising market and empower local retailers.
Since we spoke last, Visdea made the incredible achievement of reaching the semi-finals of Virgin’s Voom 2018. J.Allan Longshadow spoke to Andrew about the experience.
Visdea founder Andrew Michael pitches at Voom 2018. Video Credit Virgin/Voom.
How did you first find out about Voom and what made you decide to take part?
I first found out about VOOM unintentionally, I was about to sleep, it was 2am at night and I saw the voom advert on my Facebook, I then looked more into it and realised we were a month late to start gaining votes for the competition, so the next day I created a pitch video and then entered the competition with only 2 weeks to go.
The reason I decided to take part was the fact that I would get the opportunity to meet one of my business idols, Richard Branson and have the ability as a young entrepreneur to pitch in front of him!
What did you do to promote your brand and help to get through to the semi-final?
I only had 2 weeks to come back from being a month behind on votes so I couldn’t prepare any marketing or PR campaigns.
I decided to message every family member, friend, colleague and my whole network on LinkedIn.
I must have messaged 16,000 people over the 2 week period, that’s not including all the other amazing people helping me message their own networks!
What was the hardest part of preparing your pitch?
The fact that I have never pitched before in my life! I had to prepare a pitch, get votes and learn the pitch in under 2 weeks! In just a week I managed to learn the pitch thoroughly because I read it like 15 times a day!
Overall, how did you feel your pitch went?
I think and have been told the pitch went really well! Although I felt crazy nervous after re-watching the footage it looks like the nerves didn’t show.
What do you think went well?
I networked really well with all the staff there at VOOM, and also thought the pitch went amazing. The 9 minute grilling sessions within Finance, Marketing and Business acumen went superbly too!
What were you not so happy about?
If I’m honest, I was not so happy about the fact that on the day when we arrived the information VOOM gave us was completely different to the information I was given via e-mail and on the website. On the day they told me that in the grilling session I could bring my whole team in with me but on the e-mail it said only me or one extra person, so me and my good friend Nicholas Tsangari (Head of Finance at Visdea) had to soldier all types of questions but we did amazingly well.
I am also not so happy about that you only have 2 minutes then a 4 minute Q&A for judges to really grasp your concept and idea so if yours is in a form of software/application you can’t really showcase or go into it in much detail, so you would really need to make an impression during your pitch so that you are remembered in the judges minds as they’re listening to 40-80 businesses in one day.
What would you change if you could do it again?
I’d definitely try and be more prepared for the Q&A part of the pitch as I felt extremely nervous when the questions got asked that I couldn’t think about them properly! It’s extremely difficult to answer a question when you’re under pressure, nervous and know you only have 1 minute to answer the question as you can’t really elaborate on it compared to a conversation. I still never stuttered on the answer but I feel like I didn’t answer their questions directly at times.
Overall, how would you sum up your experience?
The VOOM competition was a great one, especially when you’re a young entrepreneur at 21, the experience I gained from the competition was amazing!
What made it extra special is that I turned 22 on the Semi-Finals so I was truly humbled upon arrival when Virgin VOOM presented me a happy birthday card and chocolates!
That was an amazing moment.
What are the most important take aways from being part of the Voom process?
The biggest take away I have learnt from participating in voom or any competition which brings you out of your comfort zone is the fact that if you’re truly passionate about something you will do literally anything and everything to achieve it.
During my time at Secondary school I wouldn’t say I lacked confidence but I really wasn’t a very confident public speaker and always use to literally hide somewhere in school to avoid doing class presentations! So for me to suddenly apply for VOOM, get the votes and know I would have to pitch in front of leading industry experts in 2 weeks shows that if I can do it, anyone can!
My best advice would be to be truly passionate for something you do because the passion will drive you to new heights. If you’re passionate about something you will literally do anything to achieve it.
Literally passion was the biggest driving force for me to learn that pitch and perfect it, passion changed fear to excitement because I love Visdea, I love technology and I love being an entrepreneur. You could literally feel the passion driving you when you’re scared or worried, pushing you to learn the pitch, pushing you to work harder! Ask anyone who has ever been successful and passionate about what they do and they will tell you the passion and love for what they do literally makes them achieve things that take them out of their comfort zone.
How do you think the experience will help your business to develop?
I have gained new strengths within myself by participating within the competition and although we didn’t make it to the Finals or win Voom, for me realising these strengths while participating is the biggest award I could be given.
People need to realise that winning all the time isn’t the recipe for success, the lessons you take away from failure and how you deal with failure will make you successful. You can’t win at everything all the time and to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s ok to fail but it’s never ok to give up.
What’s next for your company?
The Visdea team are all so proud of how we performed in the Voom competition as all judges loved and validated the visdea app, so we will now be focusing on getting further investment and with this investment focus on development and marketing.
What advice would you give to anybody thinking about participating in the next edition of Voom?
Go into the competition with the right attitude and expectations. When I applied for VOOM I didn’t care about winning, yes winning it would have been amazing because I would have met and pitched my business to one of my business idols Sir Richard Branson, but I went in wanting to learn, gain experience and give my company ‘visdea’ the brand exposure from the marketing we done through votes. I also wanted to prove to myself that anything can be achievable if you put your mind to it and had passion as the driving force behind you.
Andrew, congratulations on doing as well as you did and making the semi finals of this incredible competition. We are very excited to watch how Visdea grows in the coming months and wish you every success! ■