Chameleon appeared on The Pitch in it’s first episode, when we had a basic prototype and not much else. Here’s how it paid off…
Ideas are amazing, but they’re also really boring — when they stay as ideas. I’ve heard so many pitches (often as a bystander) that I’m fatigued, EXCEPT when it’s more than an idea: when it has broken out of your head, into work.
And actually I think many of the people immersed in the startup world are the same; I realized this last year, when Brian Norton and I built a prototype for what is now Chameleon (a platform to build in-product tours without writing code).
We had decided to work together, had found a clear pain point (user onboarding) and had hustled a couple of startups willing to let us solve this for them. Every week there was more to do, but to go full-time we needed to cover our costs and asked friends & family. We got ~$50k in commitment which gave us the confidence to continue doing what we were.
We applied and got rejected from 500Startups and YC (Is there a club of people who have a chip on their shoulder about this? I’d like to join.) and were kind of stumped — we didn’t know any investors in the Valley and thought we would be lost in the sea of ideas here.
But we had more than an idea. Our idea had broken out of our head and into work. We had found a couple customers and built a prototype. This was much more powerful than we knew.
When I talked to Sheel Mohnot and Auren Hoffman about this (both intros from some friends I had made in SF) they suddenly became much more interested than I had expected… and I think this was because we had work behind us — we weren’t just another idea.
Sheel invited us to pitch a host of angels, including Dave McClure (founder, 500Startups), as he and Josh were toying with a podcast version of SharkTank. Buoyed by the confidence they showed (and because I thought these conversations wouldn’t go anywhere) Chameleon was the first company on the now famous The Pitch podcast!
Listen to our 15 min pitch here:
Feedback and advice
We got an amazing reception — not just from our friends that listened, but from all corners of the world, and this continues today. We got some great advice and we got funded! Investors are smart people and if you get the chance for them to really assess your work (not your idea) then you should jump at the opportunity.
- Dave McClure told us to think about defensibility and technical advantage → we updated our seed-stage roadmap to include using our customer network to provide deep insights on better user onboarding.
- Mahendra told us to quickly grab market share because of the competitive space → we reconsidered our differentiation are now focussed on helping customers create super-contextual product tours.
- Sheel told us to strongly consider the SMB market and make the product as self-serve as possible → We redesigned Chameleon it to make it really quick to get started (e.g. using our Chrome extension)
We are really grateful to these folks for listening to our pitch and helping us improve (the “No”s are as useful as the “Yes”s). Since then we raised our seed funding and even came back to The Pitch for an update episode. 🙃
If you have a startup (or have done work on an idea) then we really recommend getting out there and pitching to people who will listen. One of the best ways to do that is to get on The Pitch and you can apply for that here or if you're scheduled then email us for tips at email@example.com.