On September 28th, 2019, Mew and Me’s games for cats was selected as the Grand Prize winner of the Veterinary Innovation Summit Pitch Contest! Our founder, Willem Delventhal, walked away with $5,000 and some incredible connections. But the road to get to this win was definitely not a smooth one, and Willem was barely ready for the pitch.
We had no idea...
Of the fourteen startups invited to exhibit at the VIS event hosted at Colorado State University, only five were selected to pitch. We gave the pitch application our best, but unfortunately were not selected in the original five. We decided to go to the conference anyway in an attempt to make some scientific connections. Our mission has always been to be a resource to the cat behavioral community, so we didn’t give up on it altogether.
We landed in Denver, Colorado, at 9am. At 9:30am, we received a certain email.
With events scheduled from that day all the way up to the pitch, Willem and Olivia Dudo, CPO, had 36 hours to get ready for this contest. The VIS@CSU pitch was expected to be 10 minutes long, a supporting deck, and 5 minutes of questions from the judges. The longest pitch we had given to date was 4 minutes, with a month to prepare. We had to create something over twice as long in thirtieth the time. We didn’t sleep much.
EVEN MORE PANIC!!!
We were scheduled to exhibit on Saturday at 6:30am, the day of the pitch. Due to a series of unfortunate events, mostly staying up too late to practice, Willem slept through his alarm. Waking up at 7am, he texted the event organizer, threw his things together, and managed to arrive at 8am. Fashionably late.
The alarm had been set to 5am with intentions of getting a handful of practice runs to build confidence for the actual pitch. With that plan out of the window, Willem spent most of the day at his booth, telling vets about Mew and Me, getting zero practice for the pitch.
Luckily, lunch was scheduled for an hour and a half, and was not a required event. Willem skipped out on food, found a quiet spot overlooking some beautiful Colorado mountains, and got a few more practice rounds in. Then the bells tolled, and it was time to pitch.
Games for Cats
Willem killed it. Given the discomfort and disorganization of the previous two days, we are incredibly proud of how it all came together. The audience lit up at our goofy but serious approach to business. They loved our games for cats. The judges offered thoughtful and curious questions and we sat down feeling very good about how we had done. Regardless of whether we would win, we knew we had given it our all.
And then they said our name
Sitting through the other pitches was inspirational. Everybody did so well, and many of the startups had very impressive numbers and missions. We really didn’t know if we had done enough for the win. After the final pitch, the judges left the room to deliberate. It was the longest 8 minutes of our lives.
Finally, they came back in, and got up on the mic. After a pause to announce the runner up, they announced, “The winner we chose for this competition was Willem with Mew and Me!”, and we enthusiastically got up for handshakes and congratulations!
We are so excited by the future! Besides the Grand Prize of $5,000, Mew and Me is also walking away with a handful of connections that will truly change the trajectory of the company. From Veterinarians excited to give us scientific perspective, to a marketer who wants to find us funding, this event may well be remembered as the moment Mew and Me got kicked into the future.
We are excited to say that we will be launching our fourth game, Snakey Cat, within the next month. We’ll also be launching a Kickstarter within the next six months! We have known forever that our users want to be able to remotely play with their cats and look through the camera. The Kickstarter will get us the funds to do that!
If you’re excited about our future, please be sure to sign up for our email list! Also, share this article around with anyone you think may think is cool.
Thanks to everyone!