After 6 weeks of hard work, we’re now at the final stage: The Pitch. The aim is to provide a presentation, supported by a well evidenced business proposal to convince two ‘dragons’ (lecturers with vast business experience) that they should ‘invest’ in the proposal.
Developing the proposal and presentation
The team developed a rough idea for the pitch and proposal presentation. I say team, really one of us took the lead and developed a good structure for how we would deliver it, focusing on 2 particular slides that summed up the more complex elements of the proposal into a strong and simple visual design.
This worked really well; these two slides illustrated the whole structure of the proposal. All it took was for one member of the team to take it upon themselves to develop these two well constructed slides and the whole picture came together. The task after that was to build the presentation and proposal around these two key slides.
We decided to break-up the proposal into various sections and allocate these amongst the team. In hindsight, this was a very similar approach to how other teams had delivered the elevator pitch during week 4, abandoning our well practised approach of leaving the presentation to one individual, which had given it so much consistency and clarity during our previous presentation.
Why did we do this?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I think there was some realisation that it was unfair to leave so much to one person; I know I certainly felt like I hadn’t been pulling my weight enough in the last couple of weeks and wanted to show I was part of the team; and perhaps there was a bit more agreement in what we had developed and the key messages we wanted to deliver following the completion of our rather well developed business plan (if I do say so myself…).
I volunteered to deliver the opening segment of the presentation, developing the opening two slides (of 7) from our previous poster, using the positive feedback we received about the imagery to place the ‘investors’ in the shoes of one of our customers. I developed a clear 2 minutes of speech to cover the session, employing a bit of theatrical flare to the task of giving a flavour to the situation and target market, I shared it with the team over our cloud storage, practised it until in knew it by heart, and then…
The Pitch and Presentation
… and then I missed the presentation.
And that is the life of the full time employed in Britain’s capital city. Having managed to juggle the two jobs I’m currently doing to make sure I could leave work early and get the evening free, giving plenty of time to get to my computer; I end up spending half an hour stuck in an underground tunnel on the London Underground and battling signal failures across the Southern Rail network. Thank you Transport for London and Network Rail.
I rush the final 500 metres from the station to home and log on in time to hear the final words of our team leader delivering the final elements of the pitch.
At least they had the slides and notes I’d already prepared. I feel I’ve let down the team… again… it’s a bit hard to take.
Despite this setback, feedback was really excellent. It appears the presentation went really well, feedback was positive and the Dragons appeared impressed with the message, the clarity and the supporting evidence in the business case.
To quote the immortal words of Homer (Simpson):
Comments from the investors regarding the actual venture proposal suggested that the proposal was very strong and realistic, costs seemed to meet expectations and that the whole venture was supported by strong and relevant evidence. Some of the key elements that sold the idea was the way it had been delivered from the point of view of the customer, rather than from a business perspective – pitching the venture as something people would want and then as to how it could be developed into a realistic business.
So the project is now done and before I get on with the valuable process of reviewing the process and debriefing myself, it’s worth picking out a few important personal observations.
Firstly, I’ve really enjoyed this exercise. It’s forced me to think differently and come up with ideas and apply my knowledge and existing skills in a way I’ve not really had to before. This has been challenging at times, but most of all, it’s been surprising to think that I can apply myself in this way.
Of course, there are limitations to this process. We have only come as far as developing a business proposal for a product. In the grand scheme of things, there would be a hell of a long way to go to getting a working and attractive product to the marking.
When looking at Lumkin et al’s Creativity-Based Model of Opportunity (2004), we’ve just about journeyed through just about every stage and we still don’t have a finished product. I suppose this represents a limitation in the model itself in that there must be more stages on from this, but then again, the model is only focusing on opportunity, not delivery.
Perhaps that also represents a limitation in the Open University MBA Entrepreneurship module in that I feel like there is more to go still: How do we translate this well articulated vision into an actual product. But perhaps that may be a little too much considering the vast, vast array of products, services and markets out there.
Finally, the most useful lesson has been understanding where opportunity comes from, and that it is this opportunity identification that makes a innovative and creative person an entrepreneur. I look forward to putting this to the test later.
Other articles in this series of entrepreneurial theory in practice
- Entrepreneurial Diary – Week 1 – Creativity and Opportunity Theory
Stage one in the New Venture Challenge – Establishing a team and idea generation
- Entrepreneurial Diary – Week 2 – Opportunity Theory in Practice
Identifying the opportunity
- Entrepreneurial Diary – Week 3 – Applying the Opportunity Business Model
Assessing the opportunity through theory
- Entrepreneurial Diary – Week 4 – Delivering the Elevator Pitch
Creating interest in the opportunity
- Entrepreneurial Diary – Week 5 – Building the Business Case
Meaning business – turning your proposal into a viable business case
- Entrepreneurial Diary – Week 6 – Delivering the Pitch
Selling the proposal to those that matter – those with the money and power to make it happen
Lumpkin, G.T., Hills, G., & Shrader, R. 2004. Opportunity Recognition. In H.P. Welsch (ed.) Entrepreneurship: The way ahead. New York: Routledge