Richard Beattie

Varsity Sparks Crowdfunding Campaign

Over the weekend I was told that got through to the semi-finals Varsity Sparks – an entrepreneurial competition being run by third-level students in Ireland. Its unique spin is that the winners are decided by which project gets the most virtual investment from other students. All third-level students will be given a virtual €10,000 to invest in projects crowdfunding campaigns.

Now, I’ve never done a crowdfunding campaign before so I’ll going to talk though my learnings and decisions here.


I need 4 things for the campaign:

  • A logo / cover image
  • A description of the idea (maximum 500 words)
  • A 3-minute video pitch
  • A 10 slide presentation

Logo / Cover Image

This is the image that is going to be displayed on the list of all the campaigns, it’ll be 350px x 200px so I’m thinking that a picture of the product would be best.

I’ve been looking over SasS kickstarter campaigns (there’s not that many, it’s not the best place to raise money for SasS) and I quite like Seedtime’s campaign. I took inspiration from them when creating my cover image. I also read Kickstarters advice.

Warning in advance I definitely put way more time that I should have, but it was pretty fun.

Firstly I needed to take up the full screen of my laptop. I used some javascript in Firefox’s console to do this.

  • Note you actually have to run this in a button’s click event handler

Once Firefox was full screen I took a screen shot so I could do edits later: Lemon Drizzle Cake Screenshot Lemon Drizzle Cake Screenshot

Then I needed somewhere to place my laptop with some props around it. Thankfully my parents had made sourdough and sausage rolls this morning so I’d plenty to work with. The lightning was poor so I used a second phone torch and took dozen of pictures to get the perfect angle. Below was the photo I liked the most. Unfortunately I didn’t have a sausage roll recipe but I got tired 💤

Laptop with surrounded by sausage rolls and dough

Laptop with surrounded by sausage rolls and dough

So this was alright, but I screenshot had become blurry and the colours weren’t as sharp so I decided to overly the original screenshot on that image. This actually wasn’t that hard using GIMP and the perspective tool (Tools > Transform Tools > Perspective)

Matching corners with GIMP perspective tool

Matching corners with GIMP perspective tool

All I had to do was match up all the corners and it made the overlay screenshot look natural

Staged image with Screenshot overlaid

Staged image with Screenshot overlaid

So about now I wanted to stop but then I remembered that I should have auto-enhanced the image, so I dragged the image above into Apple Photos and applied auto-enhance to give the final image…🎉. It’s quite nice and the auto-enhance does make the colours pop more. I’ve some issues with it but I’ve exhausted how far I’m willing to go with this.

Staged image with screenshot overlaid enhanced by Apple Photos

Staged image with screenshot overlaid enhanced by Apple Photos

Description of the idea

They gave a maximum of 500 words which is a lot 😬. I guess this is the whole text on the page so I can talk about more that just the idea and also the team; finances; etc.

10-slide presentation

Thankfully I already made a deck 2 weeks ago for the NDRC pre-accelerator, so I’m going to base a lot of this off that.

General tips apply to this:

→ Images > Words – although as I won’t be there to deliver it more words than normal will be required

→ Keep things clear and structured. With slides it’s very easy to overwhelm the audience.

Varsity suggests the following structure which I’m going to follow roughly:

  1. Introduction
  2. Problem statement /opportunity identified
  3. Proposed solution (your product/service offering)
  4. Value proposition
  5. Business model
  6. Market analysis (target market, market size etc.)
  7. Competitive analysis (current competitors and substitutes)
  8. Team members & roles
  9. Timeline of events (current status and vision for the future)
  10. Financial projections

Also I’m using Pitch for this as it has, IMO, nicer templates than Google Slides.

You can see the presentation here.

Introduction (1-2)

I’m using two slides for this as a quite like having the slogan on the 2nd and you need a title slide

Problem statement (3)

This is text-heavy but it’s actually hard to use visual elements when I’m not going to be there to elaborate.

Problem Example (4)

I think the genesis story of Prepsheets is important as it at least proves that one company has this direct issue so I’m not coming at this blind.

Bullet points are key to guide the reader along the slides

Solution (5 - 6)

This is just a simple sentence explaining what Prepsheets is with a large image, we probably also need to show how we solve the issue said above

Business Model (7)

Market Analysis (8)

For this I just got the amount of restaurants, cafés and pubs in both the UK and Ireland and added them together.

Also going to show the competitors. This is just a slide I’ve made before so it’s not that bad.

Timeline (9)

This contains what I have achieve and hope to achieve in the future.

Team (10)

Ok so this is a weird one since the team is just me but I guess I can do a small bio about me and that would cover most of the things.

Pitch Video

→ Can be max of 3 mins but they say shorter is better. I’ll aim for ~2mins

→ Need to get across my enthusiasm.

→ Can be simple but you need people to actually look at it

  • Present my slides with Zoom, like maybe? But will that be engaging.

→ Will need to incorporate visual elements

→ Some ideas of what to talk about:

  • Overview of the idea
  • Problem Statement
  • Brief description of product / service
  • Benefits and Value
  • Target market * analysis
  • Introduction to team members


It’s a visual medium I’m going to have to storyboard.

Some thoughts first:

  • What is video especially good at getting across
  • Enthusiasm
  • Visual demonstration of the product


[ Opening on Prepsheets ]

[ Switch to Richard standing ]

Hi I’m Richard. I’m 19, I’m currently on a gap year from MIT and I’m pitching

[ New Slide - Recipe Building Software]

The recipe building software tool for hospitality companies.

[ Switch to Richard standing ]

I’ve been thinking about for the past 5 years. My parents run a catering company and 5 cafés in Dublin and Kildare.

[ Switch to image of a plate ]

Through these, they make over 1,500 dishes

[ Show number 1500 ] testing

and for each they need to certain information

the ingredients

[ ingredients appear ]

the allergens,

[allergens appear]

the total cost,

[total cost appear]

and their gross margin

[gross margin appear] ~= 24 seconds

[Back to Richard]

Without these their bottom, line, suffers due to inconsistent portion sizes, poor margins, or compliance issues with their allergens.

[Scroll through recipes]

Over the last 14 years my parent’s company has kept this information in Excel. They’ve written 100s of Sheets, each connecting to one another in a inter-connected web of information.

[Back to Richard]

This worked well at the start but as they grew it fell apart

I’ve designed, inside a kitchen, to finally solve this problem.

[Switch to]

With users can upload their ingredients

[Show upload flow]

and write recipes using those

[Switch to product]

These recipes are guaranteed to ensure consistency in how dishes are made across chefs and venues and

[switch to me looking at computer]

tell managers how much dishes cost; the calories in a dish; the allergens and more.

This insight lets makes hospitality companies high-performance

I’m currently testing in 2 companies and am talking to another to come onboard within the next week.

[Switch to slide with Intertrade Ireland]

I’ve also received a €2500 grant from Intertrade Ireland to develop the product.

[Switch to slide of Ireland and UK]

Across the UK and Ireland there around 29,000 restaurants, 9000 cafés and 53000 pubs.

This market is huge, and restaurants are in dire need of a tool. Their margins are so tight and Covid-19 had been so destructive that tools such have giant inpacts and are must-haves.

[Switch to me]

Thanks for watching this and I’d really appreciate your investment

[Switch back to end slide]