Melissa Blau talks about choosing the best start-ups for Launchpad

Melissa Blau talks about choosing the best start-ups for Launchpad

In this interview with’s Rebecca Liggero, Melissa Blau of iGaming Capital explains how the selection process to find the best five start-ups that presented in the 2015 Start-Up Launchpad.

Over the past few years, EiG had been focusing on innovation and start-ups. Last year, the dedication has been stepped up a notch, bringing a more seamless experience not only for the more established start-ups showing off their products, but also for the new ones who are only just getting theirs off the ground.

Among the notable side events during last October’s EiG conference was the 2015 Start-Up Launchpad competition, where five start-ups pitched their products and got quizzed by a panel of investors. Casino VR, a multiplayer casino platform for virtual reality with multiple games and experiences, bested Skillzgaming,, Stratagem Technologies and DupZapper, and took home the top prize.

Melissa Blau, director of iGaming Capital, said the process of choosing the start-ups that will participate usually takes them months to complete.

“They submit to the Clarion website throughout the summer and into the early fall… We get together [with the conference organizers] after reading all of them and we come up with our five. Sometimes we have questions,” Blau told “If we don’t feel that there’s enough meat in the submissions, so we go back to them. I want make sure that they have, like, a leadership skill element to them, that they really do understand their market.”

The real work, however, starts after the final five participants were selected.

“I want to make sure that this is not a product pitch,” Blau said. “I want to know why these people should be sitting here and listening to you. The most important thing to me is what is the market opportunity? What is missing? Make sure that you’re not looking for a problem but rather solving a problem. So why is it now, why hasn’t it been done before? What’s new? What’s unique? Why should I be listening?”

There’s also plus points for pitches that keep things “interesting and sexy,” especially since B2B pitches can be a “long chore session” at times.

“It is a long chore session so I try to keep it interesting and sexy as possible. I really do like product pitches, like videos. It’s always a tradeoff between how long your pitch is and it’s very hard for, like, DupeZapper, who’s doing duplication and identity fraud to do a video that’s relevant, so it’s tricky to keep it interesting and fair to everyone,” Blau said.

For new start-ups that dream of pitching at the Launchpad, Blau has this piece of advice: play again if you don’t win.

“I don’t know any entrepreneurs who got it correct the first time. They say on average, entrepreneurs get six wrong before they get the seventh right and it takes six failures to make a big win so I think that the Launchpad should reflect that as well,” she said.