KI Innovations and Uminova innovations were some of the outside stakeholders who participated in the coach training session. Photo: Carolina Hawranek
KI Innovations and Uminova innovations were some of the outside stakeholders who participated in the coach training session. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

On march 6th and 7th Umeå had a prominent visitor from Silicon Valley – the internationally acclaimed pitch coach Nathan Gold. One day was set aside for an exclusive pitch-workshop with startups – the other was a meta-session where the coaches got a brush-up of their own coaching skills – a rather unusual service.

Top photo: Christian Krog Jensen, from Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB discusses the significance of hand-shakes with Nathan Gold. Behind them Mikael Englund, business coach at Uminova innovation. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

Expectations were high, as Nathan Gold counts among the top international names for coaching startups, entrepreneurs and leaders for what he calls “high-stakes presentations”. For a startup, every presentation can feel nerve-wrecking enough, but when it comes to presenting in front of investors or directly to future customers – your company’s future is directly dependent on your performance.

Two Days of intense workshops – and no time wasted

Umeå Biotech Incubator had invited Nathan Gold for a two day-workshop split between CEO’s and management from startups the first day – and coaches from a few Swedish Incubators the second day. None of the audiences were disappointed.

Nathan Gold welcomes everyone in the room by promising that he will not waste our time. And he doesn’t. His workshop is best described as an entertaining educational performance where you need to hang on to keep up. After a short introduction, he dives into his different tools, anecdotes and references. We are soon subjected to presentation tasks with ridiculously short deadlines, deceivingly easy but eye-opening exercises, and real-life stories that all help to pin down the point he is trying to make.

When the last round of presentations, of course filmed live for future reference, are recorded – we go home with a few TED-talks for homework.

Patrik Blomquist was one of the guest participants from Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

Coachable cases that need to brag a little more

When asked afterwards about his first impressions of the Umeå biotech startups he tries to be nice.

– All the people you have put in front of me are very eager to learn and the cases are “coachable”

This, he explained to us earlier, is the number one characteristic looked for by some of the world’s most famous angel investors.

– This is the type of people you want to be around and work with, says Nathan Gold.

He does however come back to the humbleness of Scandinavian entrepreneurs – and not as a good thing.

– You need to tell the investor who you are, and why you are the right person for the job. To establish credibility early on is very important, and Swedes and Norwegians have a tendency to be too humble in my opinion, he says.

Coaching is also about credibility

The second day was dedicated to the business coaches – a rare service Nathan Gold only offers a few times a year. We had the pleasure of hosting a few additional guests – three business coaches from our sister incubator Uminova Innovation and two collegues who flew in from Stockholm and Karolinska to participate.

Digital tools, tips, inside experiences and shortcuts for processes and communication were all intertwined in the coaching session. Although everyone had their own fair share of experience in the field – the guest participants rated the session as valuable and well worth travelling to Umeå for. And Nathan Gold agrees;

– I felt like that was the highlight of my trip, being to able to meet with the UBI-coaches and the outside coaches that you brought in, and more importantly have them walk away and feel like it was not a waste fo their time, says Nathan Gold.

Before finishing the interview, he brings up another successful business area of Västerbotten:

– The food I had here today and yesterday has been outstanding! says Nathan Gold.

Ann-Charlotte Aronsson, accelerator coach at Umeå Biotech Incubator was one of the participants. Photo: Carolina Hawranek

A great resource for Umeå startups

The workshop days are meant to be the beginning of a coaching collaboration – mainly for the startups that are ready to go to market. The tools supplied by Nathan Gold include online coaching possibilities through video and he repeatedly stresses how much he looks forward to see the people from our cases develop their presentation and pitching skills.
We look forward to a stimulating collaboration what will give our startups the best tools to master the perfect pitch. To get there Nathan Gold shares a bunch of know-how, free video lessons and tips on great tools on his website:

Update 2017-03-13  (Interview with Nathan Gold after his first the two-day session in Umeå)
Nathan Gold on Umeå startups – march 2017 from Carolina Hawranek on Vimeo.