Infamous tech disruptor Uber is lending a helping hand to struggling young start-ups with its latest offering. UberPITCH is a new service which allows founders to give an “elevator pitch” to venture capitalists from the backseat of an Uber car; they will then receive feedback, all in the time it takes to get to their destination.
CEO Travis Kalanick announced UberPITCH at Start-up Fest in Amsterdam this week. “I’ve seen a lot more failure than I have seen success, I know that you probably won’t believe that,” he says. “But trust me, I spent many years running out of money…. I could never push a button and pitch to somebody, so I ‘accidentally’ had to run into them in the hotel.”
Following a well-received pilot at Comcast’s Philly Tech Week 2016 in the US, UberPITCH launched in Vienna on Wednesday, with imminent rollout plans. “Over the next month we are going to have famous seed investors, VCs, members of the start-up ecosystem in cars across 30 cities across the continent in Europe,” says Kalanick.
Entrepreneurs in participating cities can apply for UberPITCH via Uber’s website. The strongest pitches will be added to a shortlist, and the best business in each country will be mentored by VC firms Atomico and EQT Ventures. The final winning start-up founder will then be invited to meet Kalanick in Berlin, to discuss strategy.
“Europe has recently seen a rise in ‘unicorns’ — start-ups valued at over $1 billion — but there have been questions over why the region has not been able to build companies as big as the likes of Google or Facebook,” writes CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal. As Steve Wozniak remarked during a recent visit to the UK, mentorship is one of the most crucial, often overlooked ingredients in building a successful tech business; perhaps this injection of expert guidance will be exactly what the Euro tech scene needs.