Guest Contribution by Drew Shaw
“Hi. I know this is awkward, but I’m starting a new business and I want to practice my pitch on you. Would you be willing to help me?”
I repeated this phrase at least a dozen times as I endured the staggering heat of a Phoenix summer while meeting random strangers on Tuesday. I hoped to obtain valuable feedback on the persuasiveness of my pitch, capture consumer attitudes toward my product, and complete the assignment from Seed Spot to refine my pitch in three hours.
Monday, I left the eight hours of training at the African American Boot Camp feeling intimidated, unsure, and ill-equipped to start a new venture. The sheer gravity of what I had to learn in such a short period of time was enough to make an otherwise self-assured man feel insecure. Yet, I returned on Tuesday in the hopes that things would turn around and renew the excitement I had about my venture before I entered the Seed Spot office the day before.
When it was announced that we would be going out into the community to pitch our idea to the public, I relished the opportunity. I knew how important it was to hear the opinion of the consumer. So, I was anxious to find out if my idea of a socially conscious design company that brings awareness to important causes through the use of mismatched socks was even viable.
I am not sure if everyone was as strategic as me in the selection of locations to pitch, but I thought about my customer, who would have a similar background to mine, and where they would congregate. The first location was a popular public market. There, I met two professional-looking men, around my age, who looked like they were working on a computer-based project for work.
I pulled up a chair, took a deep breath, and delivered a semi-rehearsed pitch while reading from my script. I felt I delivered the information with clarity and concision, and ask the gentlemen if they had any feedback. The general sentiments were that the concept was unique and that they would be interested in supporting nonprofits and causes by making a fashion statement. This initial interaction fueled my enthusiasm and revitalized my fragile mental state from the day before. I continued with the assignment with vigor, having conversations with people from a gym, a clothing retail store, a non-profit organization, and a casual dining restaurant.
With my feedback in hand, I returned to the Seed Spot office. I am certain I was beaming because I could not wait to tell everyone about the positive interactions I had with the cordial and accommodating public. I regaled the listeners in the office about the front desk worker at the gym who asked if I had any to sell, the lady at the nonprofit who offered her services, and the group of college students who were in town for the John Mayer concert.
After hearing similar stories from the other participants, it was clear that Tuesday was the most inspiring and reinvigorating experience we had during the African American Boot Camp. The other participants and I heard from our potential customers and learned more about ourselves and our ventures at the same time.