Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Making the Pitch

“First you have to sell yourself, then your product,” advised Diane Buckner at the recent Coliseum competition at the Rotman School of Management. Buckner, who is host of Dragon’s Den and Fortune Hunters, knows a thing or two about making successful pitches and was the moderator for the event.

There were five finalists and each had five minutes to make their case. Like Dragon’s Den, there were three judges – successful entrepreneurs who knew all about making a business succeed.

It was interesting to watch each presentation, and even more interesting to see the outcome. The winner had a unique product, which if it is well-marketed and positioned right, could do really well. Although it didn’t appear that he’d done much math in working out the costs of this venture. But his concept captured the judges’ attention and everyone likes to be part of something new.

The runner up excelled at showing her passion and it was her ability to sell herself, that sold the panel on her business concept but again the important number-crunching wasn’t evident.

Yet, the person who got “honorable mention” was the one, in my opinion, who truly did the best presentation, she knew her figures, had clearly a solid business plan, but somehow didn’t sway the panel with her idea.

As for the other two finalists – all I can say, is don’t give up your day job!

In looking at the results, it becomes clear to me that none of us really knew or understood what the criteria was for selecting the winner. The audience got one vote, so it would have been helpful to know what the judges were looking for as then we could have all been on the same page.

One lesson to take away from this is just as Buckner said, if you can demonstrate your passion for your product, it will take you a long way. “

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