Cruising the Clouds and Pitch Decks with John Lasko, Expert-in-Residence

Deep Dive Rising Tide
March 19, 2019 By Jackie Connor

From an early age, John Lasko has been an avid entrepreneur. Starting in elementary school, Lasko learned to do maintenance for apartment complexes and custom homes with odd jobs within each project. In high school, Lasko gravitated toward hang gliding and flew to third place in the world invitational hang gliding championships on a design he built in his high school metal shop class. He later joined hang gliding company Quicksilver in 1979.

“I took [Quicksilver] a faltering company and created the strategies both from the engineering side as well as the marketing side and we became the number one ultralight and light sport aircraft manufacturer in the world,” said Lasko. “Aviation was, let’s say, my launching pad, but I always had an interest in science.”

The success of Quicksilver allowed Lasko to travel the world, building up the company. He soon became one of the top competitive ultralight aircraft pilots in the world, so much so that he was featured in National Geographic magazine’s August 1983 article “The Bird Men.”

However, Lasko’s interest progressed toward the medical/life science space when he attended the World Congress American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in 1993, where he wrote the business plan for a medical student who wanted to start his own clinics in the U.S. and abroad. And, he has continued to work with entrepreneurs.

“One of the things I teach entrepreneurs is how to craft a pitch deck and how to get an appointment,” said Lasko. “You really want to get an investor at ‘hello’ because if you don’t get them within the first 15, 20 seconds, they’re yawning and looking at their text messages.”

“When someone asks what you do, get it out in 10 seconds and shut up…really focus on the key two or three subjects, or what I call the 10 seconds to catch.” -John Lasko, Innovation Advisor, Photo: Ben Li

Over the years, Lasko has worked with many startups on getting them into major corporations and organizations. He helped connect a professor from Oregon State University to NASA to develop a Near Earth Observation System. Lasko also introduced analytic software to several Fortune 500 companies, as well as MycoTechnology’s food technology to companies like Pepsi. He also advised an engine maker to create a new aircraft engine from a clean sheet of paper, which now has an 83 percent worldwide market share and powers most new small next-generation airplanes.

In 2017, Lasko joined UCI Applied Innovation’s Experts-in-Residence program – now known as the Innovation Advisor program – which is a network of business leaders who volunteer their time to mentor UCI-affiliated startups. He has been an advisor for several UCI Applied Innovation startup companies, including Purist and HUMBLE Technologies.

“John was always very supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavors, both from a presentation and pitch deck perspective,” said Leila Safavi-Tehrani, CEO of Purist, a company that focuses on low-cost rapid production and distribution of radioactive supplies. “If I was participating in any event, he would introduce me to different people he thought would benefit my startup. He was always very encouraging and responsive and has a great upbeat attitude.”

When pitching to investors, Lasko emphasizes simplicity in a startup’s pitch deck and encourages every slide to have an impact and be understandable without explanation within a few seconds. He also teaches the psychology of how to ask for and get the appointment with the investor.

“When someone asks what you do, get it out in 10 seconds and shut up,” said Lasko. “Don’t ramble at people; really focus on the key two or three subjects, or what I call the 10 seconds to catch. If they are interested, they’ll ask questions so you can explain more.”

Book an appointment with Lasko at lasko@usa.com.

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