How This Founder Won 25 Of 27 Startup Competitions She Entered

Startup 2012Candace Klein takes home more prize money at BI’s startup competition.

Photo: Michael Seto, Business Insider

Candace Klein is an impressive individual.That much was clear when she walked on stage at Business Insider’s startup competition in May and took home the $75,000 cash and other prizes.

Klein was witty and composed during her presentation for SoMoLend, a social donation site. She fielded questions effortlessly during the Q&A that followed.

Klein’s easy confidence probably stemmed from the fact that it was hardly the first time she was in a startup competition.

In the past few years, the 31-year-old founder has entered 27 startup competitions and won 25 of them. The other two she entered aren’t finished yet.

She recently spoke to a group in Salt Lake City about how to master a 5 minute presentation. Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner sums up Klein’s advice:

  • Passion
  • Projection
  • Sell the problem before the solution
  • Have a credible team in place
  • Connect with the judges before engaging the audience
  • Be confident
  • Know what you’re talking about
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Make eye contact

Things to avoid in a pitch per Conner:

  • Saying you have no exit plan
  • Or competition
  • Using too many words per slide or insidery jargon
  • Not having a clear business model/ path to revenue
  • Making unrealistic projections or promises
  • Typos

Klein also recommends having a master copy of the presentation deck at your disposal, eating breath mints, and reading the audience’s reaction. She also recommends sharing personal stories to get the crowd on your side.

And Klein has a crazy story to tell. Her mother had her at a very young age and she grew up in a trailer park. She paid her way through graduate school and has four degrees.

She’s also a cancer survivor. Klein was diagnosed with Ovarian caner and has been in remission twice.

Entering 27 startup competitions sounds like more work (and more of a distraction) than simply running a startup. But it’s led Klein to her next entrepreneurial endeavour: SoMoLaunch, an online business plan competition of her own.

Here’s Klein’s presentation from Startup 2012 so you can see her presenting skills in action:

Produced by Kamelia Angelova, Robert Libetti, William Wei

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