PitchedIt won the Best Pitch award at February’s Founder Weekend, hosted by the PorterShed. Co-founder Rob Halligan represented his start-up in the final, and his three-minute pitch impressed the panel of judges best on the day. So, we took time to catch up with Rob about the idea behind the business, the challenges they have faced, juggling a work-family balance, and more.
For context, PitchedIt is a community-powered fundraising platform that aims to remove many of the barriers to funding that exist in traditional avenues. Ultimately, it is a free-to-join platform that makes it easier and more efficient for founders to gain access to investors and those who are willing to provide feedback and guidance. In Rob’s words, PitchedIt’s mission is to make start-up fundraising more accessible, efficient and enjoyable for pre-seed founders and investors.
But PitchedIt wasn’t always what PitchedIt is today – a common theme for many start-ups that have to reimagine, constantly ideate, and discover specific niches.
Backstory and Founder Weekend
“Last year, [co-founder] Scott Ashmore started building out the initial foundations of something that resembled a platform that could help bring people together. Then, I got involved – myself and Scott go back 20 years, we’ve been best mates since we were 12.
“It was something that I knew Scott had started building, and obviously expressed my interest around what he was building and felt that I could add value to it, and understood what he was trying to do.”
In many ways, PitchedIt’s win at Founder Weekend marked the start of a new start for Rob and Scott, but it was far from the very beginning, owing to their years of hard work leading up to that point – and Scott had nothing but high praise for the benefits of enrolling in Founder Weekend.
“It’s an intense weekend. All of these programmes are full-on in their delivery, and they have to be because you’re really trying to pump in as much value as possible in a short period of time, so they’re great in that regard because there’s so much to take in. And there’s great networking – not just with the founders, but also with the mentors that are involved with it, some really really interesting people who have lots of great knowledge to share.
“We really enjoyed the weekend. I was pretty shattered by the end of Sunday and then getting the win completely re-energised us again, so it was brilliant,” Rob said.
Following PitchedIt’s win at Founder Weekend, they discovered that they had been accepted into the NDRC Pre-Accelerator. This prestigious programme started at the end of March and will run for six weeks, offering participants the chance to build their operations strategically, as well as learning from founders who have built, scaled, and exited startups in an entrepreneur-focused omnibus of workshops, talks, and more.
And Rob is excited about what the Pre-Accelerator offers, coming hot on the heels of the Founder Weekend.
“To get into the Pre-Accelerator was amazing,” Rob explains.
“We really want to take advantage of it, and I think the exposure will be a massive piece for us – getting exposure in the space – but ultimately trying to milk as much of the knowledge that’s going to happen in that time and really take advantage of getting to know everybody that’s involved in administering the course, getting to know the founders. All of these people are the type of people we want in our community.”
The latest cohort for the pre-accelerator includes some of Ireland’s best and brightest start-ups and will provide a lot of support such as invaluable advice on customer development, fireside chats, mentoring, product development, and plenty more.
Rob and his co-founder Scott have recently quit their full-time jobs to start their business, they have mortgages to pay, and little boys to raise. To say the journey towards PitchedIt has been an easy one would be a brutal understatement.
So, how do they find the time to keep everything going?
“It’s just a case of everywhere you can find a window of time, make use of it. After I pick my son up from creche, it’s spending time with him, if I find an hour or two before dinner where I can put in a bit more time into the business – it’s really just squeezing everything out of it. So, I think you just need to be as efficient as you can with your time and be really routine with your calendar planning, slotting family time in as well as business time so that everything is covered.”
The day-to-day challenges of being a start-up founder are not easy ones to navigate, but Rob and Scott are not simply content with doing just that – they already have their sights set on a number of milestones to achieve for the rest of the year.
“Two big milestones for this year would be to have our first fundraising campaign run through the platform, which we’re hoping is going to happen in the coming months
“And also raising our own fundraising round. We’re keen over the next six months to raise our initial round. We already have an angel investor committed to us and from there we hope to continue that journey.”
By Trevor Murray