Breaking open the Asian market, one killer pitch at a time

Image: Syngency founder and CEO Ryan Marshall
Syngency, a Kiwi tech start-up, just won first place at a pitching competition in Taipei, Taiwan, and is now getting catapulted onto the international stage—a rare endeavour, and those who’ve unlocked similar achievements will tell you it’s certainly a scary thing standing on that stage.

Creating that perfect winning pitch is no small feat, and neither is getting launched into the entire Asia market. Somehow, Kiwi tech company Syngency has managed just that.

At the TechNode Demo Day’s recent conference in Taiwan, Syngency scored first place in a fierce battle against ten other start-ups.

TechNode, the Chinese publisher for online information technology news website TechCrunch, allows ten teams from across the world, this time ranging from China to Brazil, to present a 6-minute pitch followed by a 4-minute Q&A in front of a panel of judges. The winner is given a free booth with a value of over RMB¥12,000 (NZ$2,722.88) at TechCrunch Shanghai in June.

Syngency started in Auckland with founder and CEO Ryan Marshall’s then-employers—Clyne Model Management.

Working as one of the IT crowd at the time, Marshall was responsible for back-end tech support. It was an astonishing revelation when he discovered that Clyne’s business processes, like much of the rest of the modeling world, were still being performed with pen-and-paper, or at best, Excel sheets.

“I was pretty shocked at the state of things. This fast paced environment, [the modelling industry] was quite antiquated with their use of technology. No one had dynamic websites, nothing was in a database, all that sort of thing,” Marshall says.

Seeing the gap in the market, Marshall jumped for it. Working with Clyne became the “lightbulb moment” that got him creating a cloud-based solution for booking and planning schedules at the agency.

It grew into a website platform that was more than just a fancy calendar.

“Going from fulfilling the necessity of having a good booking system that the agency could use, now it’s filling every aspect of running an agency,” Marshall says.

The platform now provides collaboration tools and a matching mobile app that has changed the way agents, clients, and models interact with an agency.

With clients in Australia, the U.S., and now expanding into Asia, our interview happens across Skype, where he’s just landed in Tokyo after wrapping things up with TechNode in Taipei. The win at Demo Day is opening a whole new set of doors, and he’s running around frantically meeting new clients and setting up new business deals.

Marshall says he’s still very new to pitching—it’s only the second one he’s ever done—but he believes having a good warm-up routine is key factor in his win.

“When you’re a musician, playing night after night, a warm-up routine is essential. I think the same goes for giving up a strong pitch.”

At the same time, he believes identifying the key elements in any pitch is crucial in grabbing your audience’s attention.

“At Start-up Alley, we had this one line in the pitch that we really wanted to grab people’s attention with. The way that was delivered—at the right time, in the right manner vocally—you could really see people pricked up their ears and I got their attention again,” Marshall says.

For the time being however, Marshall will continue off jet-setting around Asia, securing new clients and pushing his product across East Asia. But he’d like to make a trip back to Taiwan sometime in the future, not as a businessman, but as a tourist, pedal-biking around the island and enjoy a nice holiday.