What is a Pitch?
A pitch is your ‘speil’ to engage and entice other delegates/judges to work on your idea.
When the BCS Hackathon begins on 5th June, anyone with a problem or project they think might be interesting to other delegates can speak for between 30-60 seconds to explain and flesh out the dilema. Based on these pitches, you’ll be able to decide on which problem you’d like to work on.
Pitches are short direct episodes of communication. In a manner which Jeff Bezos would approve, ideas must be succinctly expressed without the aid of powerpoint or projectors but props may be used.
What makes a good pitch?
Even with the best idea in the world, if you don’t convey it clearly in a concise and well-thought-out pitch then it will be difficult for other delegates to understand what you mean, which will probably make them less keen to work on your idea with you.
The main principles for a memorable pitch are:
1. Tell a story
People love stories. Pitches with a story in them almost always go down better. So give it colour: explain how your day-to-day life is affected by this problem; explain the frustrations of clinicians’/patients’ lives without the thing you’re pitching.
2. Explain the change you want to see
The best innovation often work best on a large scale and make a real impact in the world. This means that when you’re pitching you should make sure you explain just how the world will be better once your project is a reality.
Projects tend to fall into three broad categories, described below. There is no ‘best option’ from these, but it is useful to think about which level your problem space falls into.
- Projects requiring revolution: for example an open Electronic Patient Record that brings about the end of global injustice and human suffering in general.
- Projects requiring someone with local clout: for example setting up a portal for patients at a particular GP practice to help them manage their chronic conditions.
- Projects that are what we would call ‘workarounds’: those light-touch solutions that can fit in around existing systems that can potentially help lots of people in a small but meaningful way.
3. Make it achievable
Be realistic, you’ll be ‘hacking’ your chosen problem for approximately 12-15 hours. Promises to eradicate heart disease are likely to be greeted with some degree of scepticism.
That said, if your idea is huge and overwhelming, you should probably still talk about it, because hugeness-of-scale might translate to hugeness-of-impact on patients. Perhaps there is some part of your big idea that can be split off to give a good bite-sized project. Make this explicit in your pitch: explain that this is what you want to build today.
4. Make it clear
Maybe you’re familiar with the concept of “elevator pitches”? That is, how to express yourself and your plan in approximately 15 seconds when you bump into some important person or potential investor.
If you can convey your problem into 30-60 seconds then its likely you truly understand the problem and challenges.
5. Describe a problem rather than a solution
The most powerful hackathon experiences come from ideas that are genuinely co-created in response to problems or needs that actually exist in the real world (hence starting with the story and impact).
A common pitfall of hackathon pitches is to skip right over the part with the problem-solving, and to start describing the solution that first occurred to the person giving the pitch. Unsurprisingly this tends not to excite the creative problem-solvers in the room. You’re here because you have a problem that you want to help solve: why would you put constraints on what the solution might look like? Allow the process to work, and allow the talented people in the room with you the space to innovate around what you said.
Two particularly common cases of describing a solution rather than a problem are: “Here is a description of the specific screens my app will have”; and “I have this library/raspberry pi/Google Glass/etc…please make it relevant to someone”
6. Practise, iterate, ask for feedback or help from us if you want.
Practice, practice, practice your pitch and you’re more likely to be able to deliver.
7. Don’t expect others to work on your company project
We don’t mind pitches on existing projects but you must remember that other delegates are not unpaid contractors.
If you have a firm idea in mind and know how you want to approach your project, then you should probably consider paying for some help rather than pitching at the BCS Hackathon.
Any pre-existing projects that you pitch should be strictly non-commercial, and any of our attendees who works on it with you should be offered the opportunity to continue their involvement if they wish.
If you have any concerns on the appropriateness of your idea then please contact us.
8. You don’t need a mobile app
Apps will not solve every clinical problem so don’t feel pressured into making one if it’s not appropriate.
9. Avoid tech/entrepreneur Buzzword Bingo
There are certain buzzwords which have become so overused that the true meaning is often lost or misunderstood. Beware!
Do you really have an idea that is a “tripadvisor for health tech apps”, “facebook for nurses”, “tinder for hospital patients” and so on.
Below is an example of an engaging elevator style pitch!