Peter Lazou, mentor at BLAST 2017: “An effective pitch? Just be yourself, stand out from the crowd and be different”

by | Mar 30, 2017

He is Peter Lazou, a creative venture builder and process designer combining the latest hardware, software and sensor technologies. He is also co-founder at SportScientia and co-founder and CEO at Pitch60, two companies partners BLAST 2017. Peter will be an active part of Blast, as he explains in the interview here below: his workshop will be focused on “the art of pitching” and he will be also a mentor, providing advice and guidance during the 3 days, for those startups which would like to test their pitch. For all this reasons we are sure that this interview can be very interesting for you. Don’t miss the chance to meet him, apply now for our Startup Program!

Let’s start talking about you: who is Peter Lazou? Your professional path is really interesting: you have been working for years in an international environment, in sectors as FinTech, Automotive, IoT, Wearables and Gaming, across 3 continents. How would you sum your long professional journey? Have you a sort of milestones that you want to share with the BLAST attendees?

My journey has been very interesting and challenging with plenty of highs and lows, failures and the joys of success. The toughest part was not to let failure or negativity from others prevent me from going after what I believed in and my gut instinct that I know would work. But at the same time it was important for me to face these hurdles, these challenges head on and give them and go regardless of the outcome.
What I did learn was never to regret or beat myself up if I failed. So when I failed I would get up dust myself down and start again learning from the experience and focusing on the next challenge ahead.
I don’t really set milestones but rather take on challenges that will push the boundaries of my comfort zone. This keeps me alive and is what makes everyday an exciting adventure. I live my life to the full as I’m not in control of my time clock, no one is. What’s also interesting is that I don’t think of my next challenge as it seems to happen unexpectedly!

 

Then you decided to be a venture builder. Why?

 

I guess this current global Peak Startup/Entrepreneurial Bubble which is about to burst helped because it just seems like the true definitions of startups, entrepreneurs, accelerators, incubators, etc., have been swallowed up by this bubble with many aspiring countries living in a world of copy, paste and buzzwords.

 

For me venture building is far more exciting and engaging because its about building companies using ones own and or shared ideas and resources. Unlike incubators and accelerators, venture building does not require applications, nor a competitive program that ends in a demo day. Instead, it’s about pulling business ideas from within ones network of resources and assigning internal teams to develop them.

 

Even if you’re a cosmopolitan person, it seems you have a special relationship with Cyprus: you invested there a lot of time, strength and money. Why?

My presence in Cyprus was not by choice but due to the ill health of my father who sadly passed away in September 2015. At the same time my mother fell very ill hence I decided to make Cyprus a temporary base until she recovered early in 2016. But even so, I decided since I was there to explore the Cypriot ecosystem, meeting some very interesting and credible individuals, which led me to becoming one of the founding members of Startup Cyprus, which was invited to become a member of the European Startup Network. What became very apparent to me during 2016 was that the Cypriot ecosystem was and still is at a very embryonic stage.

The country was and still is living in a peak startup bubble being swallowed by buzzwords and a copy and paste mentality. So me being me, I wanted to help contribute and add value to the ecosystem therefore launched a chapter of the infamous Founder Institute which is the worlds largest startup launch and entrepreneurial training program. The Cyprus chapter successfully graduated 11 aspiring founders in March 2016. At the same time I acknowledged a missing gap not only in Cyprus but on a global front where founders could showcase their startups to a global audience hence incorporated Pitch60, a global blockchain aggregator platform that organises and delivers streamlined startup information, making it easily accessible and useful to the everyday investor with my two co-founders. Although I’m now in and out of Cyprus, I am still active in being asked to host ideation and innovation workshops for corporates. I’m also a mentor/advisor at Gravity Ventures and a mentor for Women Fit For Business (WF4B).

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on 5 very exciting global projects. Pitch60 is one as mentioned. Popcourne, a mixed reality ontological finance banking game that dissolves boundaries and encourages us to think differently by probing the adjacent possible. It’s this notion that all the knowledge we input in the game, will teach us back and change the way we think and learn. menaDOTS, a reality programme that will depict the journey of how corporations and startups can merge their unique skill sets, form relationships and interact positively with each other to drive business sustainability and change the trajectory of disruptive innovation.

 

Excellerator, a program that merges service design with an accelerator by delivering the essential foundation that a startup requires to commence it’s journey right through the pitching to investors. Last but not least is SportScientia, where we have re-engineered a smart insole 3P that measures and monitors weight distribution for injury prevention and player rehabilitation for all sports.

 

Talking of SportScientia, that is also one of the supporting partners of BLAST, could you tell us more about this project?

 

SportScientia is a very exciting venture because because we are disrupting the world of soccer and sports across the global. Using advanced sensors and motion arrays within our smart insole we are able to obtain real-time dynamic data so that we can visualise to sports players, coaches, the meaning of this data providing them with tangible information to help them improve their performance. We do this is by connecting our smart insole to our 3P active portal where training or game play video clips can be uploaded in order to match and cross reference generated data from that exercise or game so that coaches and scouts can visualise how the data was captured.

 

Our market differentiator is our application capability because we can: Monitor, gauge, rehabilitate from grassroots to professional level by measuring and monitoring weight distribution and gait analysis. Through injury prevention we can help save football clubs millions in lost revenue while increasing player selectability. Help players rehabilitate correctly using real-time dynamic data combined with expert advice. And through recovery management we can help prevent players from coming back too early causing a recurrence of the same injury.

 

But our Corporate Social Innovation programme is at the core of our business and our connected link. Our aim thru our CSI programme is to refurbish used insoles that have been returned by players due their foot growth and distribute them to the developing countries for free. This is our commitment to supporting and helping the world of soccer in the developing word, helping players to reach the top but also giving new horizons to clubs in these countries, while at the same time providing shared values by doing good for soccer & society by generating data models for predictive analytics for the future growth of soccer. By players/academy’s purchasing our insoles they are actually sponsoring kids playing soccer in the developing world.

 

As mentioned before, our smart insole can be used in all sports but our goal is to actualise our technology in golf, tennis, rugby, basketball while also introducing artificial intelligence and mixed reality in how we deliver and present our data especially in the world of eSports, which has become extremely popular over the past few years and many companies all over the world are now realising that there is a lot of money that they can make.
You’re also the co-founder and CEO of Pitch 60, technical partner of BLAST. We’re very exciting because Pitch 60 will be actively involved in BLAST, with a workshop dedicated to the art of pitching and with mentoring sessions for those startups who would like to test drive their pitch and obtain feedback from you. You will be also a mentor, providing advice and guidance to the startups during the 3 days. First of all, we are very happy to have you on board J then: would you anticipate something about your “plan” or expectations?

 

I’m not one to anticipate and always go with the flow. There are no rules in my world as I’m a firm believer in learning by doing. So for me it’s about inspiring, helping to establish creative confidence  because we have this fear of being judged, as well as providing valuable advice and guidance. What’s important is to make sure that founders understand that to be successful they must have sound knowledge of the market they are entering, how their product or service will be different, stand out and improve/add value to peoples lives. They need to make sure they are responding to a real need rather than an assumption!

 

In your opinion, what is the current startups situation in Europe and what are the possible developments?

 

We are definitely in a startup peak bubble and it’s accelerating at a rate that will eventually burst and I’m not sure if we are ready to deal with that when it does. At the same time Europe has not been under the spotlight as far as innovation in the world is concerned although Eastern Europe is for sure making traction and noise which is great to witness. It’s also been argued that in countries where investments remain very low, restrictions brought about by the financial crisis have encouraged entrepreneurship. For example, despite the great struggle in scaling up, Portugal and Cyprus have seen a rise in the number of startups, the former especially in the science and technology sector.

 

One begrudged frustration from a European perspective has been the continued comparison to the US, but with more private investors and venture capitalists now looking at Europe this view is fading slowly. A key development in Europe has been the European Commission trying to expand its presence in the entrepreneurial scene to promote a world class ecosystem. The objective being to give European businesses the best chance of future success and whose progresses can be tracked separately for every EU member.

 

It could be quite difficult to sum, but is there a specific tip to obtain an effective pitch?

 

Just be YOU and tell your story in they way it works best for YOU. The problem today is that too many founders spend time downloading pitch templates from the internet because that is the format and style that investors require. My take is stand out from the crowd and be different. Don’t follow the norm as there are no rules in this game.

 

Is there a common mistake that entrepreneurs or startuppers make during their pitches?

 

Integrity, Knowledge, Emotion and Passion. If you are not in love with what you do, if you don’t get goose bumps when pitching, then go home until you are able to deliver a pitch that will give you and your audience goose bumps. Remember, it’s all about YOU!

 

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