Here Comes The Pitch!

December 23, 2009

No, I’m not talking baseball.  I’m talking the pitch, as in ideas, as in pitching companies.  I’m gonna slow pitch you on this one.  We’ll start with an analogy…You plop down in front of the tube to watch Letterman because Robin Williams is the guest star tonight.  But the interview is, in fact, less interview and more improv comedy.  Why? Because Williams just dominates the stage with his wit and personality.  And you’re just left there laughing hysterically until your gut hurts, and all the while, you’re in awe wondering just how fast that guy’s mind works.  I mean, his mind has got to be going Warp Factor 5!Jason Calacanis is a veritable Robin Williams on his show This Week in Startups (search #TWiST on Twitter), bar none the best podcast I’ve ever run across.  The guy, like Williams, brings the wit and personality AND the knowledge!

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A snapshot from the jihad against Keiretsu Forum (Episode 23)

His mind is racing at a mile a minute answering callers with startup questions, reviewing pitches from would-be entrepreneurs a la Shark Tank, and discussing the ventures of his wide range of amazing guests.  He’s not just some tech industry pundit talking a big game but never having done anything.  He walks the walk as well, having setup several successful companies, the latest being Mahalo.  But he brings an acute awareness of the tech industry and is as forward-thinking as they come.  But what’s more is that he hasn’t lost the entrepreneurial edge, that hunger for success.  He brings that same fire in the bellies of all entrepreneurs to his show.  And for me personally, that is what’s most admirable about him.  He hasn’t forgotten his roots.And just as he would probably coach any startup to simply just start and learn as you go, his show has progressed in just the first few episodes from a decent, perhaps “Take it or leave it” podcast, to a “Can’t Miss” weekly production.  The cast and crew is just as amazing.  From the soft-spoken Tyler, Jason’s right-hand man, and who has the air of E.F. Hutton.  You remember, when E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.  And Lon, the affable and ever-more famous news anchor who knows how to ask the right questions to get the best out of the guest and Jason.With 33 shows in the can, there’s well over 70 hours of entrepreneurial insight.  And for anyone who has any interest in running a business, whether their own company or not, I highly recommend you check out each and every one.  You get more than just the typical successes and failures run down.  The various segments of show include:

  • Ask Jason: A few callers ring in with questions related to his/her startup or career in startups.  And Jason responds with off-the-cuff advice.  Nothing predetermined.
  • Shark Tank: (my personal favorite)  Someone calls in to run their pitch by Jason like the TV show, “Shark Tank” (abysmal as it is).  Jason and his guest will then rate the pitch, give some insight and pointers, and then discuss the startup idea to give the caller feedback, homework, and in some cases, if the pitch is really great and the business plan sound, Jason has even invested in the companies.  What other podcast does that?!
  • Interview: The guest of each show is usually a startup CEO, but not always.  There have been authors, coaches, angel investors, etc.  But everyone has their experience in and around startups.  The advice and learnings you can garner from this segment alone would be worth a weekly fee.
  • The News: Typically with Lon Harris as the new anchor, this segment is like Cranky Geeks, but better.  I love John Dvorak to death, but Jason and his guest, and Tyler and Lon often dig deeper into the issues, discussing the implications of company decisions, predicting success and failure.

These four segments are very unscripted and can turn into a variety of interesting topics. Hence, the show can run a little long for the short-attention span crowd (sometimes in excess of two hours), but for anyone out there even only half-serious about starting their own company (present company included), TWiST is 700MB of weekly podcast goodness delivered straight to your iTunes that you just won’t want to miss!  Or, if you really enjoy seeing live streaming footage, you can pop over to USTREAM each Friday for the show and participate in the other excellent part of the TWiST community, the loyal minions in the chatroom.So go check out TWiST.  I can’t recommend it highly enough (this pitch is my best effort!). If you do decide to take the plunge, then you may check out Startup Recap, a nice companion sight started by Scott Simko, one of the shows most loyal followers.  It’s a nice little overview site and you can find a blurb on each episode to help you get a feel for the quality of the content the show brings.And last but not least, and maybe the most invaluable part of the show is the sponsors.  We are encouraged to thank the sponsors of the show by Jason on many occasions.  It may seem like overkill, at first.  But when you compare it with watching television, you watch shows you really like but could give a rat’s ass about the commercial sponsors.  You don’t feel they have any direct connection with the success of the show you are watching.  In the case of TWiST, Jason clues us in to the very direct impact that his sponsors have on its success.  Never one to take all the glory, he gives credit where it’s due.  And so, let me give a shout out to the shows sponsors… DNAmail, PowerVPS, USTREAM, WebSpy, and most recently, Bing!  A sincere “Thank You” for helping to sponsor this most amazing show!So, with that, waste no more time with my atrocious content.  Spend your time wisely, and go check out This Week in Startups.And one special request to Jason Calacanis…  you do a pretty amazing Christopher Walken impression!  You do it all the time on This Week in Tech with leo laporte.  After 33 episodes of TWiST, I haven’t heard one Walken impression yet!  The show doesn’t need gimmicks, it’s just too good.  But the Brooklyn hustler impression comes out all the time… Where’s the Walken?!

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One Response to “Here Comes The Pitch!”

  1. Al Doan Says:

    bump for the walken impression, and for TWiST, such a great resource to stimulate ideas and thought. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious, except for anyone who calls in, they are somehow immune to enthusiasm and energy and speak in monotone voices, but @jason and guest are great. 🙂


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