If there’s any near-guarantee of success for a startup, it’s a gig working with Intel. So it’s no wonder that hundreds of startups vie for a spot in the Intel Ignite startup programs in Tel-Aviv. Out of more than 200 startups that apply for each cohort, about 20 are chosen as finalists – and of those, only ten make it into the program itself.
This last step takes place on Selection Day, when the finalists present to a panel of judges – tech experts, VC managers, entrepreneurs, and Ignite graduates. For startup entrepreneurs, Selection Day – and successfully passing it – could turn out to be the most important day of their professional lives. So what does it take to make it on Selection Day? How can a startup beat out others for a spot in the Ignite program? What criteria does Intel use to determine which startups would be the best fit for Ignite? And most importantly, what, specifically, should startups do to ensure success?
Most importantly, startups need to convince the Selection Day panel that they indeed have what it takes to move onto the next level – and that starts with the pitch. A startup needs to show in its pitch that it knows where it wants to go, clearly showcasing the ins and outs of its technology and product, the problems it is seeking to solve, why the market needs them, and its potential competitors.
For a presentation to be effective, it needs to be based on facts and data, including showing what is missing in a particular market, and why a startup’s solution fills that gap. The startup should use numbers, statistics and graphics to illustrate the state of the industry and present not only the number of potential customers, but also discuss what those customers are using as a solution right now, how much they are spending, and why they could or would adopt your solution. With a winning story based on clear data, startups can produce an extremely effective presentation that will make a strong case for acceptance into the program.
Other things the panel will want to know include: How big is the problem and how unique is your solution? How well acquainted are you with the competition? Along the way, the startup should also emphasize its “secret sauce” – the thing that makes it stand out from the crowd. That could be a unique twist on the technology, such as providing a solution that can be applied to more than one problem. Startups that can present successfully on these themes definitely increase their chances of qualifying.
Financial aspects, including how a company has raised funds so far and where it intends to raise money in the future, are important as well. Less important is a detailed go-to-market strategy; as markets change and technologies evolve, so there’s time for that later on in the program.
Perhaps the most important feature of a startup is the human factor – the team, how it works together, how willing it is to learn. A team that knows how to work together is crucial to success – and a major factor in preventing startup failure. Startups that expect to get into the program would do well to iron out any conflicts – personal or professional – before Selection Day.
Ignite is looking for the best of the best among startups – and we don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Startups that believe they can make the grade are welcome to apply – and for those who aren’t ready yet, we hope to see you in a future Ignite cohort.