60 – San Francisco: Finale

I’m standing in front of 50 entrepreneurs. I’m about to present Story for the first time. They look bored.

Most people presenting had presented really intelligent solutions to really technical problems. I didn’t really understand what most people were presenting it was that technical. And now I’m about to start talking about Story which, in contrast, is really basic. “Yeah, duhhh pictures and words…”

I’m the last guy up and the crowd is looking shifty. I need to win them back.

“Saved the best for last, huh.” I say nonchalantly as I look down at my iPhone. I’m plugging it into a cable so it can be projected onto the wall behind me. I don’t hear any laughs so look up and see no one’s looking at me.

This is my last night. I’m flying back tomorrow at 1pm and I have one last meeting with a lady from the government at 9am. Still no idea what that’s going to be about. But right now, I’m standing in front of 50 people working out how I’m gonna start my presentation.

See I wanna start with a funny story, win the crowd, then be like, ‘Why am I telling you this story? I should be showing you it in my app, Story!’ BAM. Win the crowd like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Instead I’m standing there like Eminem at the beginning of 8 Mile, choking, again, like I was at the fucking Facebook event.

I should’ve rehearsed. The others rehearsed, you could tell. When did I even last give a presentation? College? 12 years ago? Jesus.

Ah fuck it. I wade in with a story about how me and my girlfriend cycled the Golden Gate Bridge and it was nothing like the brochures made out, with happy couples smiling and looking relaxed. Then I pull the ‘Why am I telling you this story? I should be showing you it in my app, Story!’ line. No one reacts so I plough on. I launch the app and show off the story about us cycling the bridge. Then I show Paul’s Beef Wellington recipe. Then I show off a just-words story by Jamie P Barker.*

At the end there’s no applause, just a Q&A. I know there’s one investor in the audience. I keep looking at him but he doesn’t put up his hand. After the Q&A I get drunk and a bunch of people tell me it’s a brilliant idea and they really want to use it. One guy says his wife will love it.

* I actually consulted with Jamie about how to conduct my presentation. He had this to say:

“Is it on a stage? You gotta BOUNCE onto the stage. First impressions are vital. So get a Michael Jackson pneumatic lift thing and just shoot out of the floor. Then run up and down the stage fist pumping shouting “USA USA!” When the applause dies down start with a joke. “I’ve just flown in and boy are my arms tired!” Say. When they’ve stopped pissing themselves look confused and say, “oh no, I didn’t mean that!” and explain on the flight there was a massive hydraulic failure and you had to wrestle the controls with your strength. Tell them you saved 388 lives. They’re on the wrong foot now so hit them with something they understand. Talk about their famous bridge. Tell them it looks like a rubbish way for suicide then go straight into “DO YOU LIKE MONEY?” Ask them. They’ll holla back that they do. Tell them you could show them the App. You could do that but that’s too straightforward. Too easy. Tell them you only work with people with balls. Tell them you’ll accept investment for the person with the biggest balls. Turn down the first few people who shoot their hands up. Chide them for being too eager and say you’ve made a mistake. The most important thing here is to not show them the app, you want investment in you. Say to the audience they’re not as cool as you’d hoped. Pack your shit up and begin to trudge off stage. Somebody will shout at you to stop. Look at them and shake your head. Outside hang around. Talk on your mobile. Somebody will approach. Continue to pretend talking on your phone. Say on the phone you were disappointed by the lack of balls shown by Americans. Then take the first offer but don’t seem happy about it.”

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