Guest Contribution By: Brian Hensley, ASU Student
Open Pitch is a great event for aspiring entrepreneurs. At some point if you plan on building your start-up, you must pitch your idea to someone. Whether it be to hire your first employee, sell to your first customer, or try to obtain funding. ASU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosts this event on each campus each semester. I had the pleasure of presenting on the Polytechnic campus last Fall and here is a bit of my experience at the Open Pitch event.
I had never heard of the Open Pitch until I walked into my Engineering 101 class and my professor had a guest. We were encouraged to participate that same day if we had an idea to come out to pitch it for a chance to win $250. If we didn’t have an idea, we were still encouraged to show up and be part of the audience.
About 30 minutes prior to the event starting I decided to attend… just to watch. However, when I was signing in I was asked specifically, “Are you going to pitch today?” I thought, “I have some ideas, I’m sure I can find one to pitch.” So I agreed to pitch an idea. Having no clue what I was going to present, I went through a list on my phone where I keep “notes” written down. All of the presenters drew numbers for presentation order, and I drew 12. It gave me an opportunity to listen to others pitch to get a feel for how I wanted to present.
This is a great way to work on your elevator pitch as you are only allowed 2 minutes for your presentation. However, strategies still varied. Some people took the 2 minutes to explain what they would use the $250 for in relation to their idea. Some had prototypes and showed what their product does. I used a bit of both, but mainly used about 30 seconds to describe my product, a minute to show the benefit to a market, and the final 30 seconds to explain how the $250 would help me bring my product to market.
When everything was said and done, each person in the room could vote for their favorite idea. This was a great moment because it was interactive. People were walking up to one another asking what number they presented, which showed every person who pitched that people really valued their ideas. Not only did they use the interaction to place a vote, but to share thoughts on the idea or product itself. Students were collaborating and discussing improvements to the products and ideas during this time. It blew me away!
This showed me a great moment in the entrepreneurial journey because at first I was extremely hesitant to share my ideas. I was fearful of someone wanting to take my idea for themselves. In hindsight, it was a foolish thought because this never happened. It is truly a great way to grow and this event allowed the growth to take place organically.
I once heard a saying: “If you have a dollar and I have a dollar and we exchange our dollars with each other, then we each have a dollar… But if I have an idea and you have an idea and we exchange our ideas with each other, then we both have 2 ideas.” Sharing your ideas can only help you grow. So even if you are afraid to stand on the ledge and present your ideas to a crowd, just remember every person in that room is sharing the same experience and it may be the greatest advancement you make with your idea whether you win the event or not. My final piece of advice is this: Go for it! You will not regret it!
Open Pitch is occurring every Wednesday on a different campus throughout the month of February as part of Launch Days, a signature effort to promote awareness about entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities and resources to ASU students. For more information about Launch Days, or to register to participate in an upcoming Open Pitch event, visit https://entrepreneurship.asu.edu/asu-launch-days