We spoke to the founders of one of the most ambitious startup projects of 2014
It has been said that the default result of a startup is failure. Some claw their way out into profitability and massive investment rounds, though most burn away and are forgotten. Incubators such as Techstar, Y-Combinator, and Seedcamp have sprung up to help new businesses get expert feedback and raise money (amongst other benefits). Pitchswag aims to bring together all of the main stakeholders in a business, while providing services such as crowdfunding and access to experts who can help entrepreneurs. We caught up with the Pitchswag founders, Alina Bezuglova and Emin Can Turan, to talk about their plans.
Why did you start Pitchswag?
ALINA: I was researching crowdfunding platforms for a large-scale project, when I realized it’s extremely difficult to raise finance for £1million+ projects. The failure rate is between 66% on Kickstarter to 90% on Indiegogo. That gave me the idea to build such a platform and reduce this unfair situation, giving more opportunities to people with game-changing ideas, since I believe that you cannot change the world opening another restaurant, in other words with low-cost projects. That was the foundation for Pitchswag. Since then we were improving it and building it up to create an ultimate place for people to realise their ideas.
What are your plans for the next year and beyond?
CAN: In our near future we are aiming to expand to the Benelux market, however we always keep an ongoing strategic plan to tap the unused talents in Eastern Europe, Baltics and the Middle East.
What problem are you trying to solve?
ALINA: Novice entrepreneurs require sufficient access to support, resources and funding to bring their ideas to fruition. Currently there is a gap between the resources the entrepreneurs need and the ability of the entrepreneurial ecosystems to provide them. There is a lack of infrastructure to support all those innovative thinkers. Pitchswag addresses the need to fill this gap, as it is a single point of contact for people that are passionate about ideas and enthusiastic about bringing these ideas from an embryonic stage all the way through launch.
CAN: But there is also a social problem. The reality is that there are too many ideas being rejected for numerous of reasons that have nothing to do with the feasibility of the idea itself. Think of racism, sexism or other reasons, such as the level of presentation skills of an entrepreneur, or just the lack of space in an offline incubator. Think about the entrepreneur that doesn’t have the financial resources to ask one or two business-related questions to a legal advisor, a mother of three children that doesn’t have time to go and present her brilliant idea at an important conference to attract investors, or the entrepreneur who is silently being judged because of his cultural background.
What problems do you see with current crowdfunding platforms?
ALINA: Firstly, they don’t create post-purchase experience. In other words, once the fundraising campaign is over, people do not bother to stay ‘in touch’ with each other and create bonds, both personal and professional. Secondly, each project is a one-set fundraising campaign. They don’t provide such environment and tools for project creators to return for additional finance for the same project. Third, large-scale projects (over £1million) are more likely to fail, as there is no support for them.
What gets you excited about Pitchswag?
CAN: Its potential! We are sourcing the world. We are a movement of good, giving anyone with a good idea and strong determination a fair chance to make it. Driving innovation is the business we are in, so that some can change the game for the benefit of others.
What do you miss the most about your former job at Google?
CAN: In all honesty, I miss my friends at Google the most. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stability of a good job with all it perks like the next guy, but I can cope with the harsh unstable environment of a start-up. Besides, someone has to do the dirty work in order to do good, and I also get to know amazing new people with awesome business ideas.
How does running Pitchswag compare to working at Google?
CAN: Running Pitchswag has allowed me to spread my wings. Working at Google was a huge opportunity for me, both professionally and personally. I was lucky to make friends with some incredible people, work alongside talented colleagues and was able to see behind the scenes at a successful tech company. Then I was introduced to Alina, and the rest is history!
All Images: Pitchswag