How To Win 6 Pitch Competitions In A Year: An Interview With Empath CSO Hazumu Yamazaki

Hazumu Yamazaki’s company Empath has created a product that is nothing short of impressive – their Emotion AI can identify the emotional state of the speaker regardless of the language they are speaking.

What’s just as impressive, though, is that Hazumu together with Empath has won 6 pitch competitions all over the world in under a year. Anyone who’s launched their startup knows that having even one such win under your belt is impressive, so we’ve met up with Hazumu for a short interview at Web Summit to find out the secret to winning a pitch competition.

This is a transcript of an interview recorded at Web Summit 2018. You can read the interview below, as well as watch or listen.

Hi, Hazumu! Can you please tell us a little about Empath?

Hazumu Yamazaki: We at Empath are developing a vocal emotional AI which can identify human emotion from the voice in real time, regardless of the language. We focus not on what you say but how you say it. It’s based on speech analysis of the speed, tone, and pitch.

How old is your company? How many clients do you have already?

HY: We started in October 2017. So we’re just one year old, but we already have 1,000 customers in over 50 countries.

How did you get those customers and already spread over 50 countries?

HY: What we do is we attend all these international tech conferences, and we do it frequently. And we already won 6 international pitch competitions and therefore got a lot of media coverage. This is why we got a lot of customers while being only one year old.

Can you share the secret of how one wins six pitch competitions? How do you prepare?

HY: We have a lot of international mentors, from San Francisco, Dubai, from all over, and we got a lot of advice on how to prepare our pitch decks. This really helped us win.

You don’t have to talk much about your product, focus on your business model, traction, or team. Because these factors are much more important to the investors.

What advice did they give you? Is it true that it’s better to stay calm, or do you have to get more aggressive to persuade the audience?

HY: Always make your presentation in a calm emotional state, it’s really important. Another key is that you don’t have to talk much about your product, focus on your business model, traction, or team. Because these factors are much more important to the investors.

Apart from winning 6 pitch competitions, you’re now also a part of Google Developers Launchpad Accelerator. How’d you get their attention?

HY: We are always looking for partners among the voice tech giants, like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, because they provide a voice assistant through smart speakers. And we’re interested in the e-commerce field and the voice commerce where anyone can buy anything through a smart speaker. Our service can provide recommendations based on emotion analysis to each customer, so this is why we have been accepted by this accelerator

You have a pretty unusual marketing approach, how do your marketing and sales teams work? How many people do you have on the team?

HY: We have 12 team members but we only have 3 people involved in marketing and sales. You could say we’re in a tough situation in terms of marketing and sales. But we still have a lot of inquiries because of the media coverage.  

So for young startups looking to get a lot of media coverage your #1 secret would be…

HY: …Try pitch competitions, as much as you can. Because besides the media coverage, if you win, you get the prize money as well. This can give your business a real boost.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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