Our First Pitch: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

This week was a big one for us. Not only as business owners, but as individuals too. This past Wednesday we stood in front of a panel of five judges (who, by the way, were all pretty big deals in this neck of the woods) and pitched our business against 5 others who participated in a summer program with us. Rewind about 5 minutes before the pitch and you’ll get a great mental image of the two of us, sitting at our desks, trying not to pee our pants. Cute, right?

Needless to say, neither of us were particularly keen on public speaking. I’m not even sure if you can classify speaking in front of 5 people public speaking, but nonetheless, it was way out of our comfort zone.

I think for me, at least, part of the reason I was so nervous about the pitch is because I tend to doubt myself… like, a lot. I looked at the other businesses we were competing against and thought that there was no way we could measure up. Some of theses guys are doing amazing stuff! Like Status Exempt, who facilitate online transactions between merchants and First Nations Consumers. Or there’s Vetterview, a platform that connects social media influencers and micro-influencers directly with brands looking to leverage influencer marketing through paid collaborations. Seriously, these are some huge ideas! And to make matters worse, some of them were seasoned “pitchers”, whereas Melissa and I had never done anything like this before. I wondered if we were “innovative” or “new” enough to compete and pretty much managed to convince myself that there was no way we could possibly win.

All 6 of the businesses that qualified for the Slingshot Program this summer.

All 6 of the businesses that qualified for the Slingshot Program this summer.

But, knowing that dropping out just wasn’t an option, we worked hard on our pitch, and got help from everyone we could. We spent a good chunk of time writing and re-writing what we wanted to say. It had to be perfect. I really wasn’t even thinking about the $1,000 cash prize for the winner at this point, but just wanted to make sure that the judges knew we were just as unique and as important as the others. We worked closely with our case manager at the Innovation Cluster, and practiced memorizing it for days. My dog is probably incredibly sick of hearing it by now. But seriously… if you ever need to practice a speech, dogs make great audiences.

I know I’m probably making it out to seem like this 7 minute presentation was life or death for us, but if you knew how much I hate public speaking you would totally understand.

So, 4:40 rolled around, we walked in, and did our pitch. The 30+ run-throughs totally paid off because we went in and, I hate to brag, but we killed it. We didn’t stutter or slip up, we didn’t mess up the slides, or miss any of our points. We even answered some of the judge’s curve ball questions with minimally concerned looks on our faces! What more can you ask for, right?

Our Pitch.

Our Pitch.

Results were calculated over night and we were absolutely thrilled to hear that we were runners up of the competition. Seriously… when I say thrilled, I’m not joking. Two days ago I literally wanted to drop out I was so nervous. I’m not sure if anybody else felt this way, but I sort of thought of ourselves as the underdog, so for me, second place… first place… it’s pretty much the same!

So… what’s the point of all this? I have a few takeaways that I thought might be worth sharing…

  1. Stop. Doubting. Yourself.

    • Looking back on all of this, I feel like a bit of an idiot. I got so worked up over something that was created in my own mind. No one else saw XXIV Social as the underdogs except for me. I created this idea in my head that we weren’t as innovative as the others and so there was no way we stood a chance. Every day the pitch got closer, this idea snowballed until it pretty much took over my brain (hence, the refraining from peeing my pants 5 minutes prior to going in). If I would have had a little more confidence in myself, and in our business, this whole process would have been a heck of alot easier.

  2. Maybe doubting yourself (a little) isn’t a bad thing.

    • Okay, maybe this is totally contradictory to what I just said, but there is a silver lining to the fact that I thought the judges were going to eat us alive. Because we were so worried about our pitch, we literally rehearsed for hours upon end. We knew our pitch frontwards, backwards, and inside out. We presented to literally anyone who was willing to listen, and we even had answers memorized to the 10 questions we thought the judges were most likely to ask. We might have been the most nervous, but I think it’s safe to say this also made us the most prepared.

  3. Take the help being offered to you.

    • If it wasn’t for our case manager, Rose, and friends and family who let us practice in front of them a million times, there’s no way we would have succeeded. Sometimes I hesitate in asking people for help because I feel like a nuisance. But when the tables are turned, I know I’m always more than happy to help a friend in need. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to not be afraid to use the resources, and people available to you. Just don’t forget to say thanks!

Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the results of the program, and the pitch competition. We stepped out of our comfort zone, did something we were scared of, and at the end of the day, it really wasn’t that bad! Heck, I might even do it again sometime… not anytime soon, but maybe one day.

MB