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Startup Tips with Bill Reichert and Adiba Barney

Here at GridAKL, we often get awesome opportunities to host national and international legends. Last Thursday was one of these chances, and we were very fortunate to have Bill Reichert and Adiba Barney pay us a visit.

Bill Reichert is a Venture Capitalist and Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures, and Adiba Barney is the CEO of SVForum – Silicon Valley’s largest non-profit organisation, dedicated to educating and creating relationships within the technology and startup community.

These two experts came full of energy and enthusiasm (which was lucky because they had a very ambitious itinerary), and an openness to give and share as much as they possibly could. Even when our sessions were over, they insisted to stay on and talk to as many people as they could. Total superstars.

We ran one of our Quick Fire Q&A sessions with them and 25 lucky entrepreneurs, where each question asked had to begin with a super rapid pitch. We had an awesome time doing this with Sam Altman and Scott Nolan last year, and now it was Bill and Adiba’s turn in the hot seats.

The questions asked focused in on the US market and sought guidance on what it requires to crack the market. The advice given back was strong, sometimes hard to take, but most importantly realistic. They also definitely did not shy away from dropping a couple of pitching tips too!

Here are some of the key takeaways from the session.

  1. Have a clear pitch.
    This was a real eye opener for our entrepreneurs, as Bill and Adiba needed to seek clarity after almost everyones pitches. Bill summed this one up well with this saying ‘Don’t paint the whole landscape, when you just need to sharpen your spear.’ They repeatedly encouraged the group to simplify their pitches. To quickly and clearly highlight what problem in the market your solution solves and how it will make you money. We should be delivering our audience a hook, a totally unique selling point that they just couldn’t possibly ignore. Kiwi’s are not known to be good at blowing our own trumpets, and our inability to simply communicate what makes us great, could be the thing that lets our pitches down in the U.S. Guys, it’s time to stand up and be that tall poppy.


  2. Don’t just tell them you’re great, show them.
    It’s a lot more powerful if you can show real life examples of solving a problem, instead of just saying you do. Bill and Adiba absolutely loved when the entrepreneurs shared success stories or case studies, and showed off impressive results or trends. This is the easiest way to demonstrate that you can or already are making a real difference, and you’re on to something truly awesome.  

  3. You don’t need to relocate your entire team, to be successful in the US.
    This question popped up early on, and led to plenty of good discussion around what perhaps would have been required 5 years ago to what is expected now. Adiba agreed that you will need some presence over there if you are wanting to make some real traction, and initially this could simply be a physical mailing address or local landline. When you’re ready to commit, what should be over there is your Management team, and at least one business development or marketing representation.

  4. Kiwis should band together to better leverage
    We are big fans of collaborating, so when Adiba urged NZ startups to band together when they take on the world, we got very excited. She encouraged us to create an exciting Kiwi story, filled with examples of our innovation and ingenuity, that we could take and tell to the U.S markets. Working together to better represent our startup ecosystem, so we can make bigger impacts, definitely sounds like a good idea to us.

We’re very thankful to Bill and Adiba for lending us their ears and sharing so much insight and expertise with the community of entrepreneurs.

If you’re not already, you must come and get involved with as many of these opportunities as possible. With each new conversation you have (whether your thinking is challenged or confirmed) you’ll find yourself better prepared for the next.

Eva is the Activation Manager here at GridAKL, you can follow her adventures by following us on twitter or signing up to our newsletter