I have one of the coolest classes this semester - Starting a Company 101. In the beginning of the class, we all had to submit an idea for a company, and three of us gave practice elevator pitches for our ideas. The whole class rated the 177 total ideas submitted (from 120 people in the class), and the top 25 ideas got to give five minute pitches in front of the class. I submitted three ideas.
TWO of my ideas were in the top 25 - how cool is that! To give credit where it is due, the two ideas were actually rather shamelessly stolen from my dad. So, my dad's ideas are awesome!
There were two other people with two ideas in the top 25 (both engineers, ahem) and we all were instructed to just pick the idea we liked best.
So I chose the idea I liked and on Monday I had five minutes and one PowerPoint slide to convince the class that my idea was a good one. Five minutes is not a long time, but it's long enough I need to think about what to say and not just wing it like I did the elevator pitch.
I structured my shpiel with only three points: 1) I have a customer 2) they have a problem 3) I have the solution. I thought this would be the strongest way to present the idea. You have to start with the customer because that is the one key element that every single business needs to even be called a business. For my particular idea, I already have a first client in mind that is ready to buy my product, and then I have the target market in mind to expand the business. Then after establishing a customer, you have to show that they have a need. Without a need (even if it's a need they don't yet know they have) you will never make a sale. Finally, I showed that I had a way to satisfy that need that nobody else is satisfying.
I was one of the few people who actually had proof-of-concept for their idea. Most of the ideas were along the lines of, "It would be great if _________, and I'd really like people on my team who know how to make that a reality." My pitch was, "I've made this a reality, I'd like people to help me do something with it." Guess which one people responded to?
I also tried to make my short speech honest and concise; telling a story. I wore a nice skirt and blouse, and tried to show the "quiet confidence" that I have been told I possess.
It must have worked - both of the professors (they co-teach) came up to shake my hand after the class, and commented that I had presented nicely. That was flattering, but the real result showed in the cluster of people that gathered to talk to me. It literally formed a line - I practically had to take numbers! And I've also gotten a bunch of emails from people in the last two days asking to be on my team.
It's a good feeling. It's one I'm not used to.
I'm a little scared about today. Today the class period is entirely reserved for team formation. This consists of all the things I am not good at. Mingling with strangers, being constantly evaluated on non-tangible criteria, and promoting myself and my own idea. It's also a little stressful because the professors keep harping on the fact that the team is the most important aspect - sometimes more important than the idea.
Wish me luck - I'm on my way to choosing teams... and for the first time I have to be the one picking players, not waiting hopefully to be chosen...