The EMBA class is working with three startup companies throughout the course of the year. Their objective: make an effective pitch to a panel of Venture Capitalists on behalf of the startup they are working with. This project gives the class the opportunity to apply their learnings to a real life situation, and it provides the startups with fresh sets of eyes to look at their business models and other challenges.
Last week they spent a day focused on venture capital, and pitching to VCs. They met with John Elton, a partner in iNovia Capital, and Austin Hill, a successful entrepreneur and angel investor. The core of John Elton’s message was that potential venture capital investors want to know:
- Why you
- Why this idea
- Why now
He underlined that VCs are more interested in the idea, the progress and the people than in how smooth the pitch is. Time is a scarce resource for entrepreneurs, and he counsels always choosing the tradeoff that will bring you more customers rather than the one that will perfect the pitch.
Austin Hill dropped the class right into the action. In teams of 10, they were given a business idea, and had 10 minutes to develop their first pitch. An amazing amount of creativity and collaboration was unleashed as a result of a strict deadline and a bit of rivalry. Next step, 20 minutes to develop a slide presentation with a twist. No one fired up their computers. Rather, they used index cards to sketch out their ideas and their pitch. Limiting technology once again opened the creative floodgates, and ensured that they focused on the idea and the message, rather than how to make it pretty.
The teams will make their final pitches to a venture capital panel during the Catalytic Mindset Module in August. The class is working with Taste Filter, Sweetiq, and World Wide Hearing. The new business challenge is an example of how the program integrates theory and practice, and looks at businesses holistically.