Norwegians take top prize in startup competition, with a killer presentation

I was a judge at a startup competition recently. It was great fun and all of the 8 contestants were brave enough to make a 2-minute presentation in front of a room full of people — not to mention four cranky judges. One presentation in particular really stood out though.

When Halvor Gregusson got off the stage, an audience full of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors was cheering and the moderator was giving him a high-five.

Pretty good for a two-minute pitch about a time-tracking tool from a Norwegian startup.

Gregusson’s company, Yast, took the top prize in the Fast Pitch competition today at Under the Radar, a conference held in Microsoft’s Silicon Valley headquarters. The competition, co-sponsored by VentureBeat, gave eight startups (selected from a field of more than 100 applicants) just two minutes to make their case before a panel of four judges, one of which was me. The judges then had two minutes to give their feedback. We showed our votes by holding up one of three pictures of David Hasselhoff, ranging from “Oy vey!” to “Awesome!”

Gregusson’s pitch won the near-unanimous approval of the panel. How did he do it? Impeccable timing, a sense of humor and a continuous soundtrack (taken from the movie The Rock, he told me) that was perfectly integrated into the points of his slides, which auto-advanced as he spoke.

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Norwegians take top prize in startup competition, with a killer presentation