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Entrepreneurs Pitch For Feedback, Funding At SXSW Dolphin Tank

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Dolphin Tank in collaboration with Startup America Women at SXSW.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

Startup America Women‘s Dolphin Tank is not a softer version of Shark Tank for women.

“The #1 predator for sharks is dolphins,” says Scott Case, CEO of Startup America Partnership in opening remarks.

The Dolphin Tank showcased entrepreneurs giving 2-minute pitches to a panel of powerhouse women who gave feedback.

First up, serial entrepreneur Bettina Hein (Founder & CEO, Pixability) sold first company for $125M. With Pixability, she has commercialized video marketing technology out of MIT, stating “TV is dead… and brands can dance on its grave.” She is raising her series B and pitching. Criticism for her pitch included a desire by the judges to hear more about her business metrics, who else is on her team, and to better position herself strategically with partnerships.

Misty Gibbs pitched creating the first women’s local and global platform” called Empower Lounge. The agency industry veteram wants to serve the “female need trifecta” online. An judge expressed confusion about what Misty is doing, to which Misty said “Facebook meets Daily Candy for women”. Another judge wanted to know how Misty’s site would differentiate from other women’s media sites. “What is your ask?” said one judge.

Mara Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Stopped.at – the universal bookmarklet to check in for reward points to be redeemed online. This is peer-to-peer referral on the web driving “3x higher than paid advertising and 6x higher than fan page posts”. She finished her pitch by stating that they “make money on data and conversion” but forgot to ask for a seed round of $650k until prompted by a judge. The judges liked Mara’s background as a serial entrepreneur and her strong, well-rehearsed pitch.

Tappedin co-founder Zainab Zaki wants to “help you focus on the meaningful conversations you want to focus on.” The system is being built by the same person who built the E-Harmony platform, collecting your needs at point of registration to give you a notification 48 hours before a matching event. Zainab is looking for advice and guidance, and her background is in technology consulting. The judges wanted to hear the differentiation (for both Zainab as an entrepreneur and Tapped In as a social recommendation platform) sooner than later.

Morgan First founded Second Glass as a solution to help people remember the wines they tried and how to find them. Currently 300 wineries are paying Second Glass to help consumers find them, and now Second Glass is looking for $1.5M series A funding to help these wineries get their wine to these consumers through Second Glass. A judge asked Second Glass to explore collaborations for Second Glass. Another judge wants to make Second Glass a platform to expand the solution to other verticals – this will “add a lot of zeroes to the exit.”

SPINRS co-founder Kateryna Sytnyk mentioned that she uses Evernote to keep track of her wine list, and suggested Second Glass to look into such partnerships.

Bottom line – make sure your pitch includes how the investor can help you. Do you want money? Do you need an advisor? Let them know what you need so they can offer to help you.

Also, the judges kept asking for a way for the startup pitch to state “it’s like this for that”. Getting your message across succinctly is key.

About the writer: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1″ for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.