You’ve seen the advertisements for the business pitch competition at your university or college. You’ve had an idea in the back of your brain for the last few days, weeks, months, years. You’ve seen Shark Tank and dreamed of being the person up there, having someone invest in you and your idea. Now you are faced with an actual opportunity to pitch your idea; will you take it?
Not everyone can win the competition, and you’re a busy college student. You don’t want to waste your time and efforts. You have classes and homework and a life outside of school. Still, this could be your first step towards achieving a dream. Take the chance! But make it count. If you participate, how will you make sure it’s worth your time? Here are some tips for how to get the most out of a university pitch competition.
- You get out what you put in.
Some competitors’ ideas will be very fresh, while others may have been planning in the background for years. Some may have experience running and planning a business, while others may be just starting their venture into the world of business knowledge. How will your idea stand out? One easy way is good, old-fashioned hard work and determination. You aren’t just looking for investors in your idea, you’re looking for someone to invest in you. Show everyone you have the drive to go all the way. Show them you’ll do whatever it takes to get your idea running.
- The goal may not be what you think it is.
You may look around at the competitors at your first meeting and be intimidated. Maybe there are more people than you were anticipating, or maybe some of these people already seem to have polished plans and presentations. You may be tempted to stop now, thinking there’s no way you’ll win against these people. Even if that ends up being true, the competition is still worth your time! You may not win a check or an outright partnership right now, but you may just make connections that will convince someone down the road that you’re worth their time.
- Don’t procrastinate
This is a pretty obvious tip, but it’s worth mentioning! There will be work involved with the competition. You will likely have to put together a business plan, financial models, and a pitch deck. Don’t leave these until the last minute! You want solid, researched information, and you want to know every detail. If you want to get the most out of your time and effort, do it all the way, and do it well! That’s means making the work a priority.
- Have an open mind
You’re putting an idea out there, and it’s natural to be a little worried. You don’t want someone to steal your idea, and on top of that, any criticism may seem like it’s directed towards you. However, if you want to turn your idea into a reality, you’re going to need some help. That’s why you’re participating, right? Take a deep breath and have an open mind. Listen well to any advice given, and really think about it and learn from it before making any responses. Be coachable! This can go a long way in convincing the experts to invest in you.
- Do your research
Finding the financial information necessary to make a business plan and come up with financial projections can be scary. You may be participating just so you can get help in this area. However, a word of warning now – no one is going to take your idea, do all the research, and come up with the financial plans for you. They may be able to give you some pointers to get started, but at the end of the day, you are going to have to do the work yourself. Remember, you’re not the only one having a hard time!
Participating in a business pitch competition can be an extremely valuable experience. You can leave with a wealth of knowledge and resources that you didn’t have before, regardless of what you place. To get the most out of your time and experience, make the commitment ahead of time to be all in.
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EAP/ Launch Network Student Intern
ABOUT THE INITIATIVE:
The University Pitch Competition series is a North Louisiana entrepreneurial and business development event, hosted across Louisiana colleges and universities. The competition’s goal is to provide real-world education in entrepreneurship and to boost awareness and innovation commercialization in our region. This initiative is sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP), which is a division of BRF. EAP’s mission is to build an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Louisiana. For more information, please check with your college or university’s College of Business.