Halfway through the week and well into the swing of things, the finalists dived into a packed schedule of intense pitching workshops and optional modules that allowed them to tailor the seminars to their specific needs.
After one-on-one pitch-crafting sessions with executive coaches, the finalists then headed off for an extravagant evening of culture and cuisine in a renowned local museum (tune in for more on this tomorrow). Here’s what the finalists learnt on day three of the Chivas Venture Accelerator Week.
1) How to construct the perfect pitch.
Lead Consultant of the iOpener Institute Rob Geraghty delivered the ultimate guide to producing the ultimate pitch. An expert advocate of the power of motivation and technique, Rob outlined the tentpole techniques each entrepreneur will need to craft and deliver an effective, attention-grabbing presentation. The session was rounded out with a breakdown of what will be required from entrepreneurs who make it to the event at the back of everyone’s mind - the Chivas Venture Final in Los Angeles.
Addressing the 30 finalists, Rob concluded his session by saying: “Don’t forget to close with a bang! People will remember how you finish your pitch. Try to come full circle and link the end of your pitch to your opening lines. This gives beautiful symmetry, and lets the audience know you’ve come to the end of your presentation.”
Tessa Cook, the co-founder of OLIO, the UK-based mobile app starting a food sharing revolution, said: “Rob’s workshop was absolutely fantastic, although it's caused me a bit of turmoil because I’m now completely rethinking my pitch! I’m looking forward to my one-on-one pitching session later on, so I can discuss some of the things I’ve learned from Rob, and figure out how to reflect them in my pitch.”
When asked about the reality of the looming Final Pitch event in July, Tessa added: “I felt incredibly nervous when they started talking through the agenda for the final event. It’s slowly starting to sink in.”
2) Put yourself into your pitch.
The Chivas Venture arranged two personalised pitching sessions for every finalist; one with a pitch coach and another with an executive coach. These one-on-one workshops drilled down into the finalists’ ideas and led them to consider their business concepts from different perspectives, leaving them with an action plan for how to present their proposals more clearly, personally and persuasively.
Veronika Osvaldová, the founder of SmartHead, the user-friendly online tool that enables companies and individuals to create and promote their socially-responsible activities, found the session particularly useful. Particularly in regards to how she should bring through her personal story and journey to becoming a social entrepreneur.
“Four years ago I had an accident; I fell off my horse,” Veronika explained. “My doctor told me that I was very close to dying. I was given a second chance, a new opportunity in life to make a positive impact on the world. So I decided to take a risk. My intuition and my heart told me I needed to make a social impact through business. That’s why I started SmartHead. My whole life has given me a point-of-view on business - it’s not just about making a profit, but about making a positive social impact on the people and the society around you.”
3) Seize the initiative by understanding what’s important to your business.
The one-on-one sessions were supported by a variety of optional sessions that the finalists could pick and choose from, depending on which were most relevant to their companies.
Ashridge Adjunct Faculty member, Eve Pool, is well-versed in the neurobiology of leadership and accelerated learning, as well as featuring regularly on Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day. With her workshop on Practical Tools for Leading Teams, she helped the entrepreneurs prepare for the inevitable ‘critical moments’ they will face in establishing their businesses and provided insight into methods for building leadership and character.
“I was just incredibly impressed when I read through the profiles of each finalist and learnt about their businesses,” Eve said, post the one-on-one workshops with the entrepreneurs. “I just thought they were an incredible gang doing really extraordinary work. I think it shows a great deal that they put themselves forward into this process and are so committed to trying to develop their businesses further and develop their leadership. It is a great privilege to work with them.”
Irreverent Dance community builder and founder, Amanda Leon Joyce, has a strong grounding in social entrepreneurship and building startups, her earliest project making dance available to adults with no previous access to the art form. Her crowdfunding session took a deeper look at the exciting and still-evolving investment tool, and explored whether finalists would be able to harness this as a means of growing their projects.
The last workshop mentor was Acumen manager, Kasia Stochniol, who is a Harvard Business School graduate that specialises in understanding customers. She has experience of social entrepreneurship through helping launch an Acumen portfolio company called M-KOPA, financing mini solar home systems. The Lean Data interactive workshop emphasised the importance of creating value for companies and customers, through a method that employs low-cost tech as a means of firms interacting quickly directly with their clientele.
Explaining why lean data can play such a fundamental role in the future successes of the finalists’ businesses, Kasia explained: “The biggest reason why startups fail is because they are product centric rather than customer centric. In order to deeply understand your consumers needs, you need to collect data which can then help shape your business for the better.”
4) Role models for Planet Earth.
Everyone has their heroes or someone that inspires them and the Chivas Venture finalists are no different. Sun Concept’s Nuno Oliveira, whose business creates affordable solar powered boats, was inspired to become a social entrepreneur by the legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Nuno began to think differently about his natural surroundings after his mother brought home a book by the venerable broadcaster.
He said: “After I saw the beautiful photographs of plants, animals and nature, I knew that I wanted to do something that would preserve this beautiful world for generations to come.”
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