Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pitching at the Idea Works Competition

Hi guys! How is your November doing so far? UK has been freezing cold...bbbrrrr... and apparently it's going to snow next week. Not sure how I feel about that... Anyways, last Wednesday I pitched about my business idea (my second pitch) at a pitching competition. I didn't win unfortunately but I still walked away really happy. Read on and you will know why.

About three weeks ago I applied to enter a pitching competition called The Idea Works, a competition for food startups, where the person/ people behind the winning idea will win £1000. The competition was organised by Compass Group, a British multinational contract food service and support services. ( A week later, I received an email from Compass group saying that I have been shortlisted to pitch on 13th November (last Wednesday). I'm glad I did because it pushed me to work faster on my business idea for instance getting the product together as I wanted to have something to show to the judges during my pitch.

I had two weeks to get the product ready and prepare for the pitch. I learnt a lot during the two weeks, I will write about it later on in this post. I want to talk about the exciting part first. :D I only started preparing my pitch the last three days.

Below is a photo of me pitching; there were 4 judges, a small audience and a camera man- I think parts of the competition will be up on their YouTube Channel, I will look for it and show it to you guys soon.

There were 4 presentations including mine. Each candidate only had five minutes to present followed by ten minutes of Q&A. We weren't allowed to have power point or any sort of presentation visual aids as they want us to think outside the box and make our presentation entertaining and engaging. This was my first time presenting without any notes or slides and I think I did quite well. I'm impressed! I was the first one to present and I'm glad I was because I hate waiting during a presentation. I just want to get it over and done. I don't usually get nervous during presentations but this time I was shaking a little and my mouth was drying up (Lol!). My timing was perfect. I finished a few seconds before I hit 5 minutes.

So why was I so happy even though I didn't win?

I was truly happy for the people who won because I did like their idea as it's something similar to what I had in mind before and its related to healthy food. The feedback from the judges made me really happy. The judges were really pleased with my pitch, they said it was well thought- through and they really like my idea. I was actually the only one who covered every crucial aspects of the business in my presentation. I guess I had the advantage of having a master's degree in Technology Entrepreneurship as we were taught how to do a elevator pitch. Although I didn't win but Compass group is happy to help me by introducing some of their suppliers to me and one of the judges is a nutritionist, she is keen to help me with the nutrition part of my idea. One of the judges, is a business advisor at UCL Advances and she has offered to provide ongoing help. She also said to me personally at the end of the event that my pitch was the strongest! *Massive smile on my face*

So why didn't I win if I was the strongest?
Compass was looking for a food business idea that can be used inside the university, the winner's idea can be used for catering and lunch services. But Tudi Foodie is an online monthly food subscription service so not something they are looking for. Compass will help them set up a pop-up store in university so I'm looking forward to have my healthy lunch from them.

What did I learn during the preparation of the demo?
I did lots of research for packaging companies and calling them up for quotes and samples. I phoned up ten companies for a quote of a postal box (I wanted a particular size) and only two companies got back to me with a quote. Luckily I found a packaging manufacturer near me and they have samples for people to take away. They didn't have the exact size I wanted but I asked for a sample anyway as I needed a box for the demo.

Below is a photo of my product demo, not bad right? What do you think? The box worked out quite well, I might stick to this size.

The more I tried to look for the packaging I had in mind the more I realised that it's not easy to get your ideal packaging if you're on a budget especially for a startup. I also learnt that an entrepreneur can become too emotionally attached to their idea and then won't be able to accept any criticism. I have become so emotionally attached to my idea that I almost forgot about all the frameworks I learnt in my TE course; Lean startup, business model canvas, customer development, etc. I'm glad that I have my boyfriend to help me and reminding me to think about my budget. He gave me advice based on his experience when he had his own business a few years ago. Although he hasn't studied about the lean startup and Cust. development methodology but his advice made me think about those frameworks. I reminded myself that the initial product is a demo/MVP/prototype and that doesn't need to be perfect. I need to be using very little money and time to create the demo and make changes to whatever my early subscribers don't like or suggest. The build-measure-learn cycle.

I'm hoping to do a beta launch in January or early 2014 so I got lots to do before then. I will keep you updated! Thanks for reading.