How Shortlist missed a slam dunk

Something fantastic happened to me at the Technori Pitch last Monday night.

While there were a couple of people I thought I might run into, I walked into the lobby by myself, prepared to shake hands and introduce myself to anyone whose eye I managed to catch.  I don’t mind networking with total strangers, but it’s always a little nervewracking.

Soon enough I found myself chatting with “Dave.”  I said, “I’m a message therapist.”  And before I could even launch into my elevator pitch, he said, “Message therapist?  Oh yeah, I saw you on Shortlist!  I sent you a message that I wanted to meet you.”

And then: the same exact thing happened with “Lisa,” the second person I met.  I saw you on Shortlist.

Shortlist is a social networking app that “accelerates the serendipity” of networking by matching your LinkedIn profile with others who’ve registered for the same event.  So Dave and Lisa knew I would be at Technori and already knew something about me.  Talk about a confidence boost!  I thought Shortlist, the first pitch of the evening, would be a slam dunk.

Instead, it was an airball.

And not because co-founder Jason Goodrich misspoke, got lost and ultimately froze up during his five-minute presentation.  We’ve all had moments like that, when one miscue snowballs into complete disaster.  It happens.

But the presentation was wrong before Goodrich said a word.

The goal of any pitch is to establish the relevance and potential impact of your idea.  Goodrich could have accomplished that goal in the first 30 seconds.

How?  Simply by showcasing numbers that quantified the amazing experience I’d just had with his product.  I couldn’t have been the only one of 500 attendees who’d been connected with people they might never have met otherwise.  I mean, LinkedIn is great, but it’s impossible to search all 200,000 of your connections’ connections to see who might be somewhere.  But if just 100 people at Technori sent two messages apiece, it would mean everyone in the room had a 40% greater chance of meeting someone they’d already connected with.

I just made up those numbers.  But Shortlist should have had the actual data before the event started, and Goodrich should have had it on the screen in numbers ten feet high.  He could have said, “Those of you who signed up on Shortlist were 40% more likely to make a meaningful connection tonight.”

And then he could have said thank you and started taking questions, because everything after that was just commentary.

3 thoughts on “How Shortlist missed a slam dunk

  1. CTO of Shortlist here. We are actually working on this as we go along. To be completely honest we’re just absolutely strapped down with work getting the app ready, and we haven’t had many events with our new system yet to generate good numbers. My main priority right now is to push out a product that people can use, and then only then, can I start baking in ways to measure it out. It’s also very hard to measure the quality and quantity of interactions outside of the system, which is our main goal, after all.

    That said, we do have some ideas for measurement, and going forward we’ll be doing not only analytics on our side but also some market research after the event to build numbers.

    Even then, imperially it’s been a complete hit. When there is a good adoption of participants (Technori Pitch had about 40%, which is wonderful), users have been reporting a wonderful experience.

    The slam dunk, as you put it is on its way, we’re sure of that. The need is there, the pain point obvious, and we are confident that Shortlist solves the problem, the rest is just marketing.

    • Brantley:

      Forgive me for assuming you would have those measurements built in already — I understand how simply building the app can overwhelm everything else. And I honestly wish you godspeed in getting it done, because based on my experience it’s got the potential to make sports cliches like “slam dunk” seem like understatements.

      Congratulations on that 40% adoption at Technori. I look forward to being wowed by more numbers in the future.


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