“Xathon gave us the courage to venture out on new paths.”
Montana Martinez has a vision: her aim is to support young female professionals as they embark on their careers. This is why she founded the start-up Young Female, attending Xathon for the first time in 2020. One year later, she participated again and this time won first place. In the following, Montana Martinez shares great tips on how to make the most of your three days at Xathon – both for you and your business model.
When we attended Xathon for the first time in 2020, we’d only just founded our start-up the week before. We were inexperienced, and still had little idea of the factors involved in running a business. We’d only just created our logo. When we then took part one year on, we did one thing completely differently: we got ourselves properly prepared. We took the event very seriously, because we saw it as an opportunity. We were much more confident – in terms of our identities, our business and the path we wanted to take.
Have a clear vision.
Before going to Xathon, it helps to consider the following: What is it you want to achieve? I always distance myself from start-up models that claim: “We need an elevator pitch in two sentences.” That’s not what it’s about. It’s about you being sure of the answers to this: What do you want to accomplish? What would you like your product and your business to achieve? Which people do they have in mind? And how should your business model work in practice – for which market, for example? The crucial questions to ask yourself are: What do you want to achieve with your business model and what are you willing to do to make it happen?
Prepare your pitch deck.
Xathon – three extremely intense days where you’ll have to work really hard and will be pushed to your limits. Nevertheless, you still need to be able to deliver a good pitch at the end. That’s why we prepared our pitch deck beforehand. A common mistake: you think through every detail and end up with 30 slides. But after the seventh slide, it’s no longer clear what it’s all about. The pitch deck doesn’t have to include pricing models. And you don’t have to describe production routes. After all, the jury knows how supply chains work. That’s why we concentrated on the essentials and reduced our pitch deck to twelve slides.
Be passionate about what you do.
The most important thing at Xathon is your conviction, in other words, what connects you with your company and your product. This is what the jury, investors and partners are looking for: What is the founding team or the founder like? If you’re passionate about your business model, you have to get that across. Why are you a founder? Why do you want to remain a founder? It’s not figures and facts that will help you. Instead, tell your start-up story and use it as a thread for your pitch. And know your own strengths. This will ultimately help you to present a winning pitch.
Accept what you learn.
In the first year, we were very focused on doing everything right, on pitching really well. The second time around, we changed our mindset: we wanted to get involved in Xathon, have fun, we were curious about what would happen. Above all, we wanted to take on board and learn as much as possible in the three days, be it in talks or at the speaker events. One talk inspired us in particular. The speaker had structured her pitch deck really well: no figures, data or facts. Instead, she told her story. The presentation was personal, captivating and animated. After that experience, we found ourselves completely turning our pitch deck on its head at 2 o’clock in the morning. My advice: fully embrace things you may never have thought of before. Dare to try something new. Be open and flexible - just sticking to what you know won’t get you anywhere at Xathon.
Get your preferences sorted.
Get an overview of the people at Xathon and focus your attention on those who can provide important input and output for your business model. Find founders and mentors who are from your industry. If you have a tech-driven product, talk to people from STEM fields. If there are mentors who work at companies you want to partner with, talk to them, too. I’m still in contact with some of the participants and my mentor now – and I recommend that you do the same. The Xathon is all about sharing and learning from each other.
Act on the feedback.
Take the opportunity to exchange ideas with the mentors. They are successful experts in their field and have valuable experience that can take you and your business model to the next level. Be proactive – sit down with them, present your business model and ask for advice. And above all, take the feedback seriously and follow up on it. At Xathon, we embraced all kinds of advice and tips from people we’d never met before. After the event, we completely transformed our business model. Instead of continuing to focus on the B2C market, we decided to enter the B2B market. We had no guarantees – we didn’t know anything about the B2B market at all. But we took the plunge and completely changed our strategic orientation, literally overnight. That was the best decision we ever made and, at the same time, the biggest learning curve for me – we took on board everything that was said at the Xathon and put it into practice. And it definitely paid off: Xathon gave us the courage to venture out on new paths. Without this valuable experience, we wouldn’t have been able to go into development so quickly and so purposefully by a long shot.