How to nail your pitch: Advice for our Web Summit PITCH contestants

We’re looking for 2015’s best startups. We think they’re taking part in our PITCH competition. Two will be named winners next week.

It’s a chance for startups to pitch in front of our network of leading investors, major media and world-class speakers.

Nailing the pitch is key, so I thought I’d see if Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung has any tips for the startups looking to make a mark on the competition – he’s done it all before.

Danny pitched for Prenetics – they specialise in comprehensive DNA-based drug testing – at our Asian event RISE this summer and was one of three finalists in PITCH:

How did the experience of pitching onstage feel?

It was a wonderful experience all-round to pitch on stage. For us, we pitched on stage not for funding purposes but to educate and drive awareness in the general public on personalised medicine.

What advice would you have for other startups preparing to take to the PITCH stage?

In terms of advice for other startups pitching, it’s key that you have someone on your team who can communicate effectively in a limited time frame.

As I recall, we only had three minutes to present our pitch – it was very important to include only the key points:

  • The problem you are solving
  • The solution to the problem
  • Your team
  • How big is your market

Danny pitching on stage at RISE this summer.

It’s been said that Prenetics were perhaps ‘the most ambitious of the (PITCH) finalists’ and you’ve predicted a $1 billion valuation by 2018. How important is it to aim big?

It’s very important to aim big but this is all relative to the founders of a given company and the industry in which the company operates. If a startup is looking to disrupt an entire industry, that’s where the biggest valuations will come from.

Look at Uber which is now rumoured to have a $70 billion valuation or Airbnb which has a $20 billion valuation. Both companies share one common trait – they have disrupted the transportation and lodging industries, respectively.

At Prenetics, we are looking to disrupt the healthcare industry. According to a 2013 IMS report, it is a $200 billion opportunity in the US alone.

I would also point out to not just focus on valuations as people often are too caught up with them. For any early startup, focus on your core-value proposition and everything else will come if you execute right.

When will pharmacogenomics (studying patients’ DNA to see how they will react to a given drug) testing become a mainstream practice?

In the US, Pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing is already common having taken off in the past few years. That’s down to the cost of sequencing going down dramatically and as well major government and private insurers like Medicare and United Healthcare starting to provide coverage for PGx testing.

That said, here in Asia, PGx testing is virtually non-existent and that’s where we see a major gap and a significant opportunity. The need for personalised medicine is real as millions of people suffer from adverse drug effects. It’s the fourth-leading cause of deaths with 100,000 annually.

Our iGenes PGx test will enable physicians to identify the right drug and the right dosage for a given patient based on their unique genetic profile. The entire process takes no more than one minute and is done non-invasively with a set of cotton swabs to take DNA from your inner cheeks.

Imagine being able to understand how a drug will affect you before you even take it. That is very powerful and disruptive in nature. We envision that we can make this a common practice within the next three years here in Asia.

It’s definitely not going to be easy but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.


A sample Prenetics test.

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