If you’re an entrepreneur who’s been tinkering around with an awesome business idea but short on capital, we’d love to help.
In this episode, I met up with three of my buddies in the industry, Greg Mercer from Jungle Scout, Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job, and Scott Voelker from The Amazing Seller, to talk about our latest project called the 5 Minute Pitch. It’s an opportunity for bootstrapped online businesses to pitch their best business idea to us as judges and win $50,000.
Who are we looking for?
We are on the lookout for an online business with great forward momentum. We want someone who can take a unique business idea and add the meat and bones to it. So, give us your business backstory, be transparent about your numbers, and spill all the details for your chosen venture.
Finally, act natural.
“Let your personality shine through because at the end of the day we are investing in people. Oftentimes, businesses have to make pivots and go on to do different types of things. So we want to know that the founders that we’re giving this money to as a gift are going to really exceed with it.”, says Greg.
How can you join?
How do we pick a winner?
The grand prize winner will be selected after a series of elimination rounds. We’re starting with 32 contestants who will be giving us their 5-minute pitch on Skype. From that cluster, we’ll be selecting 8 contestants to advance to the next round. These 8 contestants will again be narrowed down to 4. The lucky 4 will be flown to San Diego to present their pitch live to the four judges. From these, we’ll then select the grand winner of a $50,000 cash gift.
What does the winner get?
We’re giving away a cash gift worth $50,000 to the lucky winner plus some mentoring time with each judge.
We’re launching this contest in the fall. Sign up for our email list to get the latest updates.
Other Useful Resources:
Thanks for listening to this episode! If you enjoyed listening and think this episode has been useful to you, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Mike: Hey everyone, welcome to the 166th edition of the EcomCrew Podcast. You can go to EcomCrew.com/166 to get to the show notes for this episode. And today's episode is one of those really special episodes that only comes around every so often. I have my really great friends in e-commerce Steve Chou, Scott Voelker, and Greg Mercer all on the show with me today. And we're doing something new called the 5 Minute Pitch.
You might have heard me talk about it before on the intro to a couple of these podcast episodes. But today, all four of us hop on a call. It's hard to get all four of us together. But we had a couple of hours and we recorded some stuff for 5 Minute Pitch. We're really excited about it. So, it's a really deep dive into what we're doing. I think you guys are going to really enjoy this. If nothing else you'll enjoy Scott, Steve, and Greg, all of us giving each other a hard time.
I think that the reality is, is that when we get together, we just have such a good time. And we were looking for an excuse of how we could justify to our wives getting together more often. And of course now that we have this business reason we can do that. And we're going to be doing that with the 5 Minute Pitch. And at the same time, I think producing some really awesome content, giving back to the e-commerce community with a $50,000 Grand Prize, and so much more. So right on the other side of this introduction, we're going to jump right on into it.
Mike: This is Mike, and welcome to episode number 166 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys today. And today I have a special treat. From left to right on my screen I have Greg Mercer from Jungle Scout, Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job, and Scott Voelker from the Amazing Seller. He's doing some poses and crazy things even though this is an audio podcast. And the reason they're all with me today, over the summer, we were all at Steve Chou’s event, Sellers Summit.
And during that we were recording something else for Greg called Go Pitch Win, which is basically a Shark Tank type style thing where people were pitching their businesses. And over dinner we all felt left out, we didn't we didn't have our own Go Pitch Win. So, we ended up doing our own thing called 5 Minute Pitch, and we're here to talk about today. So, if you guys could just take each a few seconds to talk about what this means to you and what we're going to be doing, and then we'll talk about the format. So again, we'll start with Greg, just talk about what you think about 5 Minute Pitch and why you think this will be cool.
Greg: Yeah, so 5 Minute Pitch is an opportunity for bootstrapped online businesses to pitch their best business idea to us four as judges. There's going to be a number of rounds of elimination. The final winner gets the $50,000 Prize. And I'm really excited about this. I love hearing from entrepreneurs. I love hearing different business ideas. I love working with entrepreneurs. So, yeah, I'm excited for this. It’s going to be amazing.
Mike: Cool. And then Steve, let's talk a little bit about the format, how we're going to — you have the notes in front of you, just talked about this a second ago, but we're going to have 32 people to start. But let's talk about how we're going to kind of narrow it down and pick the winner.
Steve: Yeah, so the reason it is called the 5 Minute Pitch is because this first round of 32 people are going to have five minutes to pitch to us. And we're all going to have buzzers and we're going to cut it off very strictly at five minutes for your pitch. And basically three people that we vote on, gets to move on to the next round. And so that's the first round.
And then we're going to deliberate and then narrow it down to eight contestants, which we will then bring in for a much longer presentation of 15 to 20 minutes. And then we'll further narrow it down to four, followed by two, and then finally, we'll pick the winner. And for the final two people, all four of us will actually go and actually try to help the contestant who wins in addition to giving them the $50,000 Prize.
Mike: Excellent. And Scott, maybe you can talk a little bit about the types of people we're going to be looking for here. What kind of businesses are you looking for, and you think that have the best chance of winning this thing?
Scott: Well, I'll do that Mike, but I got to ask one thing. First off, I think we have to figure out how to say my last name. Let's work on that, one first.
Steve: I was about to say, have I been pronouncing it wrong this entire time.
Scott: It's Voelker.
Mike: Voelker okay, this is what I do. Dave Quay [ph] gives me a bunch of crap about this too. I will just go with Scott V, Scotty V.
Scott: There you go, Scotty V. That’s what [overlapping 00:05:46] we’ll go with that. All right cool. Anyway, joking aside, which there will be a lot of that on this show.
Mike: That's actually I think what the whole purpose of this is. We're trying to figure out like, who can give the other person the most crap, but that's probably going to come through in a lot of these episodes.
Scott: Yeah, it will. What I'm most excited about is really working with businesses, not just physical products, businesses, but just businesses that have a good story, good people, and they've got some forward momentum. And for us to kind of go in there, even as we're going through this, I know that we're going to be giving advice, right. And even as they move further through, they're going to have longer than five minutes if we get to the end.
And really, I'm looking forward to being able to number one, go through all these businesses, but then also listen to all the different advice that we're giving and seeing like where they could go with this information if they just turn a couple dials, flip a couple of switches. And this money that they'll win can really do that and that's what I'm excited about. The people, the story and like, why they did their brand, like what their purpose is, like all of that stuff means a lot to me. So that's what I'm excited about.
Mike: Yeah, very cool. And kind of going back around a circle again, we'll pick on Greg one more time. Let's talk a little bit about the winner. One of the things I think that'll be cool is, all four of us are going to be donating some of our time to the winner. So not only are they going to win 50K, they're going to get some of our time. So let's talk a little bit about that.
Greg: Yeah, so the 50K is obviously going to make a huge impact to a lot of these businesses that are pitching to us. And like Mike just said, you're also going to be getting some time in the form of mentoring from all of us to help you with your business and how to improve your business. And that's going to go to the winner and everyone will get a little bit of feedback about their individual pitches from us. But the winner is especially get a lot of extra mentoring from us.
And speaking about giving feedback to people doing the pitches, some of the things that we will do with Go Pitch Win, some of the things that made the pitches really good were transparency into the business. So we want to hear about like how you started and what you've done that you've seen success with. We want to see transparency into some of the numbers, whether that be unit economics or revenue, or some of those other things. Those make excellent pitches.
We also want you to be able to clearly and concisely explain what type of business you have and what it does. And I think Steve and Scott have already mentioned this a little bit, but let your personality shine through because at the end of the day, we are investing in people. And oftentimes, businesses have to make pivots and go out to do different types of things. So we want to know that the founders that we're giving this money to as a gift are going to really exceed with it.
Mike: You kind of took my question. I was going to ask Steve for the next thing, but I'll ask if you have any extra tips because those were awesome tips.
Steve: One thing that I really enjoyed, mainly because when my wife and I started our business, we were pretty lonely. We didn't have anyone to run ideas off of or we didn't have other entrepreneurs to talk to. And so what I'm really looking forward to is meeting a whole bunch of people who are running businesses and really getting to know them at a much deeper level. So when you're doing your pitch, I encourage you guys to just act natural. Be yourself. Try not to be nervous. Just let it flow. Let it flow, because I really want to see your personality come through. If you have any quirks, those are interesting things. Those are positives, not negatives. And we're looking for businesses and personalities that really stand out.
Scott: Yeah, I'm just going to add something there Mike. I'm not sure what you were going to ask for my question, but I'm just going to kind of riff on that a little bit. But like what you just said there, Steve is exactly like what we're looking for. Like if you feel like you started this business for a reason. And that reason has to do with you or someone, maybe one of your loved ones or maybe it's just because you were frustrated in your market because you couldn't figure out like how to solve this one problem and then you did and the reasoning behind it.
Just let that stuff shine through because a lot of people say, well, how do I compete in like the saturated world of business. No one can be you. Like no one can replace you and your personality, your quirkiness, whatever it is. So let that shine through. And I think any solid business that especially has a face to the business, that's actually a real value add that you have that you might not even realize. So, I would say just let it shine through.
Mike: Yeah, definitely all really great advice. So if you think you have what it takes to be a contestant on the 5 Minute Pitch, just go to 5MinutePitch.com. I believe we got F-I-V-E and the number 5 just to be safe, but the actual URL is the number 5MinutePitch.com. And when you go there, you can just click the apply button if you're interested in being a contestant on the show. But more importantly, if you think that this will be fun to listen to when it comes out, go over, there's also a spot there to subscribe and you'll be notified when the first episodes come out. So, opening it up to kind of a group discussion now, any other things you guys want to add that we didn't cover?
Scott: One thing I want to bring up as far as like if like you just said listen to, we're actually spending, we're investing money ourselves to be able to get together and record this high production quality. So it's going to be video. It's like a Shark Tank type setup that we're going to be creating. We are taking time out of our schedules to basically be able to meet in person and go through these 5 Minute Pitches. So I just want you guys to understand, like, we're going to create this thing to be entertaining, but also to be educational. So while you're listening, you're going to be learning.
I know myself. I watch Shark Tank. I watch The Profit. I always learn just from listening to the feedback from some of these other successful people and these different brands and how they built their brand from scratch, or how they've scaled it, all those sticking points, all of those things. And the other thing I would add is — and you can do this yourself, Mike, but I'm going to remind you, sponsors, if anybody wants to possibly be a sponsor, they could apply to be in that too, right?
Mike: Yeah, for sure. You can either email me since this is the EcomCrew Podcast, but also Steve at My Wife Quit Her Job because he's actually the one behind this, seems responsible for that. But as a Scotty V was saying, we are doing this kind of on a limb; we're putting up the money, the 50k. And to be clear, like this will not be an ownership stake in your business. We're not going to say okay, we're valuing your business at a million bucks and we now own 5% of it. We're gifting this money, no strings attached.
So we're putting up a substantial sum of money. But we do think it'll be really great content. And we think the sponsorship stuff will come and besides all that, I think we're going to have a lot of fun just judging by when we all get together. I can think back to that dinner at Seller Summit when we were talking about this. And I think we could all see the whites in each other's eyes, like, oh, that's a good idea. And it was just like, how are we going to get this on our calendars which that's another whole story how that's kind of we’ll be going about because I…
Scott: You want to talk about that?
Mike: Yeah, so I threw a curveball over there. We had picked the date as responsible adults. Everybody had checked their calendars and made sure that we were clear, and then I realized that I had another commitment on the date that picked. And then, of course, all of us are really busy. So I'm like, let's just move it one week forward or one week back. And it was just like, well, I got an anniversary coming up. And then I'm going to, where the heck Greg is going because he's always flying over the world, and Scotty V was booming at one of his family members in Seattle or something.
So yeah, it was a little bit of an embarrassment this morning, but we got the date now for the recording and Scott was saying to me, we're going to be doing this in person. So, the production quality is going to be like really, really high. We will be doing all the interviews via Skype. So, if you get selected as one of the 32 teams, you'll be doing a Skype interview, we will have a big TV with you up in front of us and all four of us will kind of be on a couch, and we hired a professional video crew to do all that.
And I think it'll be cool like watching the deliberations because that was actually my favorite part. When we were doing Go Pitch Win sitting on the couch in Fort Lauderdale was really fun just kind of deliberating. And the thing that was neat, unlike politics, we actually change each other's minds. You can kind of see that happening throughout the half hour, whatever it was that we were doing that. And now we're down to a couple really cool businesses, so definitely looking forward to that. So, for guys on the spot one last time, Greg, any last words, and then we’ll move over to Steve.
Greg: I'm still going to say that I personally been looking at a lot of these applicant video, so I'd suggest if you're tempted to do this, get your video in sooner rather than later. Once the 32 spots are filled, we won't be taking any other applicants. So it's very beneficial to go ahead, fill out the application now, get it submitted so you can be one of those 32 people eligible to win the prize.
Steve: Yeah, and I just wanted to say that Mike when he was doing his little scheduling snafu, he was like when I told him that it was our 15 year anniversary, he was like uh, 15 years that's nothing man, it's okay, you can skip that.
Mike: That was Scott that said that not me.
Steve: Oh that was Scotty.
Mike: [Overlapping 00:14:59] like 40 years.
Scott: Because you know what, Steve? I'm not impressed with your 14 years, all right. Come to me, I will be hitting my 25th year next year. Come on.
Steve: I didn't realize that Scotty V was – is he the oldest one in the crew I guess?
Scott: I'm going to be 46 this month. So yes, I think I am. You kids listen over here, kids listen, especially you Mr. Mercer.
Mike: He's the oldest one. He has more hair than any of us. I don’t know how that worked out.
Steve: All right, so one thing I want to say is I'm going to be focusing — like the product is important and that sort of thing. But I'm going to be focusing a lot on the story and the personality, and basically whether the product has a really good value proposition. So those are the things that I'm going to be looking for. So, make sure when you submit your videos and that sort of thing, be sure to inject as much personality as you can.
Mike: Cool. And we'll let Scotty V because I just want to say at the end, get the final word, so close us off there's Scott.
Scott: Well, yeah, I just again I mean, I'm excited about doing this just number one to be surrounded by you guys. I mean, I've always said that before. I mean, you are — you don't want to be the smartest person in the room and I don't think I am in this room. And that's okay, because I think all of us combined really can add a lot of value to people watching this process, but also the businesses that we could potentially help. And I think all of us would agree, I mean, that's what we're all about, right, like helping businesses.
And I just want to say this once again, like yes, we all talk about physical products, businesses, and brands that we've started and created, but we've all pretty much created digital stuff as well. So if you have a digital products business, membership site, like I said, we could always add physical product or vice versa, like we're not just limiting it to just physical products, just e-commerce. I just want to be very clear on that because I mean I get excited when I see an opportunity of a physical product business that's not using or utilizing digital products and vice versa. I think there's a lot of room for growth there. And so I'm just excited about this whole process.
Mike: Awesome. Well thank you guys, all three for coming on doing this today. It's hard to get us all lined up on the microphones at the same time, and looking forward to getting together in person so we can crack on each other some more and in between evaluate some cool businesses.
And that is a wrap folks. Again, I want to thank my buddy Scott, Steve, and Greg for coming on the show today and doing this with me. I think we're going to have a blast with 5 Minute Pitch. Don't forget to go to ww.5MinutePitch.com to either submit your business for application to be one of the 32 businesses we evaluate, or just to get on the list so when we do launch, you know exactly when we launched. I think this is going to be a blast.
And you can go to EcomCrew.com/166 to get to the show notes for this episode. If you have any questions or anything you want to leave us, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know what you think of the concept. And until the next episode everyone, happy selling, we’ll talk to you then.