Could you stand on stage and pitch your startup to a panel of judges in front of a packed room?

That was the challenge for the Pitch Showcase we co-hosted with Startup Gippsland in Traralgon in June.

Six local founders rose to the challenge, with Jan Clarke from Door 2 taking out first prize ahead of solid pitches from Elle James of Night Babe, Colleen Herbert of Colleen Herbert Art, Christine Boucher of Wellness Worx, Matt Robinson of Ovasee and runners up, Trey and Jon Knight of Buzzbay Energy.

So, what got Jan over the line?

Our Senior Director of Venture Capital, Michael Macrides, was on the judging panel alongside the Latrobe Valley Authority’s Regional Programs Manager Boyde Darvill and Baw Baw Shire Councilor Jazmin Tauru.

Michael said every pitch was well-prepared and presented with lots of founder passion.

“However, Jan was not only passionate about Door 2, but also presented her case well. She was able to clearly identify a gap, show that the program was already in use with positive feedback and results, and demonstrated a focus on expanding its reach.”

Door 2’s mission and future

Jan founded Door 2 as an online education, upskilling and support program for people with eating disorders and their families.

“These people are probably the most marginalised because they fall across the mental health services and the physical health services,” Jan said, adding that more than 40 per cent of people with eating disorders are also neurodiverse.

Jan understands the impact of an eating disorder first-hand, with a daughter who had battled this terrible illness.

Taking part in the Startup Gippsland Pitch Showcase, provided Jan a platform to tell the Door 2 story and to speak on behalf of those struggling with eating disorders.

“Any opportunity I do get to pitch, I use. Whether it is a conversation with someone on a plane or sitting in a café, I’m always pitching Door 2 because it is an important story to tell,” she said.

Pitching advice to other founders

While Jan has taken part in an online pitch showcase in the past, she prefers to pitch in-person.

“Pitching is advocacy. The opportunity to get up and pitch live meant that I got to read the room, see their body language and watch the emotional reaction as they realise the solution is what they would have hoped for.”

“Sometimes (as founders) when you sit alone in the valley of death that we describe in startups, you feel the pressure of the world upon you. When you tell your story to complete strangers who are now friends and supporters, it validates that story, and it gives you renewed energy to keep pushing forward.”

To date, Door 2 has only been word-of-mouth, so participating in pitches has helped Jan refine her business. Along the way that she revealed will be officially launching Door 2 in late July 2023.

Jan’s eyes lit up as she shared, “We’ll be pitching it to the world.”

Visit Door 2’s website to learn more about its program.

Submit you pitch to Breakthrough Victoria here.