Merchant Innovation

UberPITCH Gives Startups One Taxi Ride To Woo VCs

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The "elevator pitch" became so named because it was deemed eminently crucial to deliver a succinct and persuasive business idea in no more than the time it takes for an elevator to go from the lobby to a top floor (presumably the corner office occupied by the venture capitalist whose money startups critically need).

Thanks to Uber, though, a new phrase might be needed.

Uber announced Tuesday (May 24) an initiative to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with the investors capable of giving their ideas wind beneath wings, predictably called UberPITCH. The ride-hailing company has run similar promotions in the past in select cities, but this time around, the scale is all of Europe instead. Alongside EQT Ventures and Atomico, Uber will be letting cash-strapped startups in 21 European countries and 37 cities catch a ride with a VC and pitch their ideas before the ride is over.

All pitches will receive 7 minutes of feedback from VCs in the backseat. If they succeed, the winning ideas in each city will move onto a shortlist from which a winner will be selected to fly to Berlin for a detailed meeting with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. If they fail, those 7 minutes of feedback will be potentially instructive and undoubtedly incredibly awkward.

As Kalanick explained at a conference in Amsterdam when announcing the program, UberPITCH is one of those services that he wished was around when he was pitching ideas.

"I've seen a lot more failure than I have seen success, I know that you probably won't believe that," Kalanick said, via CNBC. "But trust me, I spent many years running out of money ... but I never could push a button and pitch to somebody so I accidentally had to run into them in the hotel."

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