High on ambitions
A month ago, Maria pitched for us at START Summiteer, the START Summit pitching competition — and won the Consumer Goods category. We talked about her experience at the event and why SQIN is more than just her project.
Maria, it’s been a month since you successfully pitched us to win the Consumer Goods category. How did that feel?
It was totally exciting, because of course you knew beforehand who was going to be there — highly talented and sophisticated people. The connection to St. Gallen, one of the leading elite universities in business, has always been something I have great respect for.
Because the event was digital, you waited in some kind of backstage room and when you were suddenly brought over to the stage, it was immediately very exciting. And even though you haven’t been on an actual stage, everyone was delighted.
Actually, you could be much more happy in private and with the people around you, because you weren’t in public.
In addition, this pitching competition was a completely new forum for SQIN. The whole team did a bang-up job in Q1 and it was just nice to crown our new beginning with this achievement.
What was the feedback you received after pitching at START Summiteer?
I actually got very different feedback because, of course, it came from different perspectives.
One thing I was glad about, for example, was that every jury member approached me afterwards. They all told me what they liked about our pitch in detail. That was extremely valuable!
The feedback on LinkedIn was also absolutely overwhelming. There were so many unbelievable people who congratulated us and some of them also cheered for us live. Some people were even in constant contact with me during the event, including our investors. That was a great way for us to strengthen our network.
Even after the event, the result was a huge boost for our whole team.
The round win was a fantastic success! Is there anything that has changed for SQIN through this — any doors that have opened up?
Basically, nothing has changed gigantically or turned upside down. Even before that, we were a great and strong team, which is what we value most. But I had the feeling that the team benefited from officially getting the great feedback that we as founders so often receive internally.
It also drew our network, that was rooting for us, much closer together with us.
I, for my part, am super high on ambitions now — I’ve tasted blood!
Of course, we want to show that we didn’t win just like that and that we have really earned this. We are not just a great consumer good — we want to do good for our users and improve their well-being!
Before SQIN was founded, you worked successfully for a corporate for quite a long time. Presentations were certainly part of your everyday work there. But pitching startups didn’t play a role in your life until last year. In the meantime, however, this is practically routine for you. Are you still nervous ahead of it?
The fact that SQIN somehow has my DNA means that it doesn’t feel like I’m “just” presenting a service or product. You are practically introducing your own baby. Therefore, I’m not worried about being unprepared or not being able to answer the questions. So I’m not at all afraid of performing poorly.
My excitement rather comes from the fear that one’s sweat and work might not be recognized by others. After all, you want to show what you’ve created and that it’s great.
However, I need exactly this tension to perform well. I am very familiar with such situations due to my time in competitive sports: you are training for a very long time and ultimately have only a few opportunities to show your capacity. Everything has to be spot on — that has stuck with me.
Do you have any tips for all (future) founders who want to take part in such a pitching competition?
Don’t overthink or doubt your vision — be authentic and believe in yourself!
Also, you should not try to participate in something like this for others, it should be your intrinsic motivation!
It gives me a lot of energy and motivation to reach such milestones. But for other people that just means negative stress. Such competitions do not suit everyone and every company culture. So you should ask yourself: is it worth the effort for the expected output? And then you should decide.