This is a viewpoint from Rod Cuthbert, Chairman, Rome2rio and Founder and Former Chairman & CEO, Viator. Originally published on Medium .

Don’t Mess This Up.

​A primer for presenters at Phocuswright’s Innovation Summit: What the judges are actually thinking during your pitch.

The annual trek to Phocuswright’s Innovation Summit has proven to be worthwhile for online travel startups. Besides guaranteed exposure to the industry’s assembled glitterati, the Summit can boast that since its debut in 2008 some 274 companies have presented and 47 have been acquired, with both SilverRail and Tripit exiting for over $100m. Not a bad record so far.

After a long stint as a critic and judge at the Summit, Phocuswright’s powers that be have decided to put me on the bench this year. I guess they need some new faces to harass, interrogate and generally put the fear of God into contestants.

rod cuthbert i was saying something nice

It’s never a great feeling when you’re dropped from the team, but it’s actually a pretty stressful job, so I’m happy to hand the reins to someone else. Being consigned to the scrapheap also gives me the chance to share some crucial insights with this year’s contestants, who I can only hope will avoid repeating mistakes that previous year’s competitors have made, in some cases over and over and over again.

Without further ado, here it is: what the judges are actually thinking when you say…

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