Reverse pitching – a challenging model for new innovations

Together with The City of Helsinki, we organized a reverse pitch competition. The challenges came from Metsä Board, Valio and Fazer.

A reverse pitch is a concept where early stage companies or teams solve challenges that big companies haven’t been able to solve themselves. First, the big companies pitch their problems to the potential solvers, who then work on solutions and pitch them back to the big companies.

The challenges should be clear and solvable at least in part. The challenges should also reach as many teams as possible and the teams should have enough time to solve the challenge.

Finding the right match is key

The biggest pitfall for the competitors to avoid is having the same pitch for all participating companies. You have to pay close attention to the specific needs of the company you are pitching to, understand their problem and solve their challenge. Finding new companies to solve existing problems is the whole point of reverse pitches. In this way, a demand for the solution or product already exists, which makes it easier to grow the company.

For the organisers, the biggest problems were how to communicate about the competition to potential teams and how to recruit teams. As the concept of reverse pitch is new, more work needs to be done to communicate the competition’s purpose.

The competition is based on finding volunteers, but we don’t have a startup portal where you can easily reach potential participants. Finding enough teams to take part was extremely difficult and in part led to pitches that weren’t well enough targeted (the pitfall for competitors).

Organizing the competition wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but it was definitely worth it. We learned what to do and not to do next time. All of the participating teams were good, though not always in keeping with the spirit of the competition.

Our wonderful winning team came up with a new innovative idea that solved the challenge set.

The work continues

We’ll continue our work on finding the right matches and processes of collaboration between startups and big companies. We’ll surely organize something similar in the future, only this time we’ve learned some valuable lessons.

The next FAN application period is open between January 15 and March 10. This is the perfect opportunity for all agri food startups to build genuine growth and get the chance to win one of the 100,000 € jackpots.