Startup Competitions

I spent this past weekend attending a competition to win some money (and move forward) in a startup competition. It’s the first time I’ve ever attended anything like this, and so it was an eye opening experience (as most seem to be now).

First up, before we even go there, each group had to submit a one page executive summary of their business plan as well as attempt to answer some questions about expenses and business structure. This first step was pretty hard, as only one member on our team had been through this process before and the rest of us were struggling with the terminology. But, it gave us our first chance to try and sit down and concretely describe what we’ve been thinking and how it would be executed.

The second step was this weekend. We knew going in it was going to be a lot of work. However, I don’t think any of us had an idea of just how much. It consisted of two full days of talks and working through tasks, followed by long evenings finishing our “homework” (due that evening). And it meant there was absolutely no time for anything else – no work on our own research, no time for grocery shopping, no time to just relax (isn’t that what weekends are for?).

The tasks turned out to be quite difficult to muddle our way through, as the terminology kept tripping us up. I was really envying all the business students who were there, and had already spent some number of years working on similar tasks. Our one benefit, is that all of us are grad students with a lot of years behind us, and were good at just focusing, putting down answers, and then revising as needed when we typed them up for entry later. Finally our years of grad school were paying off. 😛

We had to finish by creating a video pitch for submission. I was really hoping we’d do the in-person pitches, because it would require a) a lot less work and b) immediate feedback from the mentors. But, apparently in previous years, the pitch session created a lot of anxiety for some groups, and so making a video was deemed to be a much fairer process, since it allowed for multiple takes. But, it took us over 4 hours to design, script and shoot our video (not including the work to make our demo look real as it’s currently not fully functional).

I’m so glad we had the end of daylight savings time and gained that hour back, because man did we need it. And I’m also really glad that I don’t have meetings today, as I’m just wiped out (which is also why this is being posted late, since I didn’t have time to write it until this morning).

While the workshop was tough, it made us think deeply on a lot of areas that we hadn’t considered/glossed over. And it connected us with a bunch of really great resources as we move forward. Now, we just wait to hear if we’ve made it into the next level of the competition, fingers crossed.


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