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Pitch Competition Part 2

April 3, 2012   

So when we left off, I was to go up against more experienced alumni in Hamilton’s annual pitch competition. After that realization, this is how the weekend played out. 

I decided spontaneously on Friday night to compete. I had been playing around with the idea ever since the first email announcing the competition but something pulled me back from entering. Then, at 9 p.m. Friday night, I stumbled upon my friend Nick with whom I fill out income taxes on Saturdays in Utica (I’ll talk about that in a later post). It just so happened he was also interested in competing.  After a plate of French fries and deep discussion, we decided to give it a shot. What did we have to lose?

We woke up early Saturday morning and headed over to KJ where the competition was taking place. We met with a mentor at whom we threw some ideas. One of them, a medical app for smartphones, caught her attention. She thought it was a great idea, thereby giving us the impetus and the drive to develop the idea. In between taxes later on in the day we thought of a name, a consumer market that would be targeted, and a business plan. We thought about pitching the idea to every person we helped fill out taxes but decided against it in the end. We were confident that if people didn’t like it, there was always a backup idea: a fashion line for ponies. 

We got back to campus and stayed up until midnight creating a powerpoint and finalizing details.  Perhaps the largest hurdle came at 11 p.m. when one of the mentors essentially said that our idea stank. We were crushed: here was someone with years of experience telling us that all our work was useless. We dismally went back to the drawing board. But, ten minutes into talking, we decided that no! We would not listen to this guy! Sure, he might not believe in us but who gives a flying hoot. We believed in our idea and at the end of the day that’s what mattered.

Sunday morning started at 6 a.m. We practiced our pitch and made our way to the judges’ room. We chose to go second on the list instead of last; we figured that 5 hours into the speeches, the judges would start dozing off. I am usually bad at public speaking. Sunday was different: I used lots of hand gestures, spoke loudly and emphatically, and looked right into the judges’ eyes. It was very empowering.

We did not win. Some alumni with an idea for a facemask did (ya, whatever). But, honestly, I am kind of glad we didn’t. It would have committed us to continue building a company that we weren’t quite sure we wanted to build right away. Yes, I will probably pursue this idea sometime in the not too distant future but right now I’ve got bigger fish to fry (e.g. convincing my parents to buy me an iPhone).