Q&A with HackFwd’s Pitch Contest Winner Honestly

By David Knight |

The pitch competition at the recent HackFwd event in Berlin was a good chance to check out some fresh faces on the startup scene. It was no surprise when the panel of judges picked Honestly as a winner – a slick, efficient performance allied to an exciting idea will always win dividends.

Honestly is a mobile feedback service making it simpler and more cost effective for companies to garner customer feedback. Silicon Allee spoke to Pascal Klein, in charge of web development, design and press at the Karlsruhe-based startup and the man responsible for the winning pitch.

SILICON ALLEE: Were you surprised at your HackFwd win?

PASCAL KLEIN: Of course! I was happily surprised. We’re sure that we have a product that’s easy to understand, that a lot of people can use and see the value of. And I practiced a lot for the pitch so I was hoping to do well.

SA: How important is having a good pitch?

PK: It’s really important that you get your idea out there so you have to practice, say ok, I only have three or four minutes [Ed’s note: The pitches at HackFwd were limited to six minutes]. I always think, if I only have four minutes how can I make it obvious to everyone our product, our market, our team, our acquisition strategy, just the four or five most important facts. And I think there’s a lot of information out there on how to practice your pitch.

SA: Most of the other startups weren’t able fit in all they wanted to say in the allotted six minutes, so maybe they should also practice at a shorter time.

PK: That’s the hardest thing. Everybody can pitch 30 minutes, everybody has so much to say and thinks their product is so complicated. But in the end just try to make it as simple as possible but not too simple.

SA: The competition was a chance for external startups to connect with HackFwd. What was your take on it?

PK: The good thing about HackFwd is that it’s one of the first projects in Europe that really focuses on technical startups. So especially in Germany there are a lot of startups where business people are trying to start companies. This is more the American way where tech founders who can code and know what the product is like can build a good product, and then start to build a company. And that is what we are like too. We are really strong technically, and we bootstrap everything, we iterate it, we try to get the product out there with customers. And that’s what HackFwd does too, and I think it’s a really good model. Especially for Europe and especially for Germany, because I think that’s what’s missing here.

SA: What is it like being a startup in Karlsruhe?

PK: It’s a tech hub, and it has one of the best universities in Europe for computer scientists and engineers. It’s not hyped like Berlin, it’s a small city where there are a lot of startups and investors. I don’t think you have to go to Berlin or London in Europe if you want to start a company. Just go to an area where there are tech people, people who like to found companies and where you feel comfortable. It doesn’t need to be Berlin. But that’s just my small little opinion.

SA: How far along the process are you?

PK: We spent the last 12 months building the product. Four months ago we started to acquire paying customers for the first time, before that we just had test customers. And now we’re in the stage where we are gaining a lot of experience, making some revenue with smaller customers, and now we would like to really get the product out there to big customers, like big fast food chains, big restaurant chains, big hotel chains; to really scale the product. We are pretty convinced that we nailed it. First nail it then scale it, and now we would like to scale it. That’s one of the reasons that we’re here; now we have a good opportunity to raise money. We’ve made the business model, and now it’s maybe time to get an investor if we get a good offer. And if not then just get on with it.