Blog > FinText Took Part In JP Morgan’s Startup Pitch Competition

FinText Took Part In JP Morgan’s Startup Pitch Competition

It went pretty well!

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Here’s a Zen Koan: Can a startup be called a startup if it doesn’t have a pitch deck?

When interest rates were zero, it seemed the answer was a pitch deck is needed regardless of whether you even have a startup. Who knows? You might trip over a VC investor and end up with a bunch of money.

But the truth is FinText never had a pitch deck. We spent all our time talking and building with clients. And that worked fine for a while, until it stopped:

We know that 94% of UK’s financial services companies have less than ten employees. Their marketing typically falls on the shoulders of a product expert, on top of their regular work. These companies need ways to create consistent dialogue with their buyers, but generative AI has not solved their problem.

We knew all this because FinText was one of those companies. And in July 2023 we built a solution to solve our pain: writing technology that delivers expert financial writing in just three clicks. We called it Stedili.

And all of a sudden, we had a scalable product, and we needed to approach it differently than the consulting-based selling we were doing before. In short, we needed a pitch, and we needed a deck.

Enter JP Morgan and Newable

JP Morgan has several mentoring programmes promoting innovation, and last year they launch the Founders Forward Perfect Pitch, which aims to support female entrepreneurs in developing a pitch for their companies. This year, they decided to run it again.

Newable is the delivery partner they work with. It’s a company built on the premise that both the UK Government and the private sector want to spur innovation, and they need experienced business leaders to help them do that. Newable delivers programmes and mentoring to founders, all provided by folks who have been there and crucially – done it successfully.

We, of course, didn’t know any of it to begin with. But the application to the programme demanded that the business describe itself in under 300 characters, which appealed both as a pitching and a writing challenge. Here’s what FinText submitted:

Our new tool (stedili.com) is the first to capture the workflows of professional writers. We’ll sell it to companies bundled with AI training: first in person, then digitally. The tech scales, but my forte has been 1-1 relationships, which don’t. I must get better at pitching partners and investors.

We got in!

FinText was one of the 30 companies selected. The programme is structured as a competition. First, we were given training on funding options and the deck structure.

Then, each startup has a week to prepare a deck. The founders reconvene to pitch to JP Morgan volunteers: first in small groups where feedback is offered, and then in front of a larger audience of volunteers who vote. Eight founders get picked to move to the final.

The first session was dense with information. Most of the other founders have already had one form of another of a pitch deck, but that wasn’t saying much: The pitches were set to five minutes top, and we were expected to cover ten specific aspects of the business: The idea, the market size, the founders, competitor analysis, traction, go-to-market etc. etc.

That’s a lot to get into five minutes! It affords about 30 seconds per slide. Because FinText is in the business of text analytics, you’d be glad to know that on reasonable pace of speech that covers an average of roughly sixty spoken words per slide. This thing had to be tightly scripted!

Some of the learning made their way to the Fund Marketer newsletter.

While building the deck, I stumbled upon analysis of several thousand startup pitch-decks to discover the most common pitfalls.

In a TechCrunch article titled “Here’s where founders screw up their pitch decks most often“, are the main findings, and most of them had to do with storytelling. Many seemed eerily relevant to selling funds.

How to get better at pitching fund selectors, Fund Marketer

As we reconvened to “practice pitch” to JP Morgan employees, holes in each of the founders’ tight scripts became evident. The volunteers, I should note, were experienced, senior, and sharply spotted gaps. This presented a major aspect of pitching practice:

Can you tailor a pitch on the fly based on feedback and still keep it short and sweet? We were about to find out!

Now, look.

As pleased as we are about out writing technology, the other founders were incredibly strong. To the point that, when we were all done with our pitches and everyone was scored, our very own female founder sat down to watch which eight would get called and figured this was a good time for a couple of minty sweets. Next thing we know, we got called! Here is our founder, distinguished by height, smiling through those mints.

The final

Less than a week later, off we were to pitch again, to a new group of JP Morgan volunteers. Again, the encouragement and support of these employees – none of whom were remotely junior – was gobsmacking. JP Morgan was clearly advocating strongly for internal participation in this effort!

FinText was proud to be the only technology company to have made the final. And were even more gratified to be offered the chance to receive more mentorship with JP Morgan. Best of all – we now have a pitch deck for Stedili.