Pitch to Progress: Rocket Pitch Results
You practice for weeks. You make your pitch. Now what?
Rocket Pitch, presented by the Blank Center, is a different kind of pitch event. Presenters have only three minutes and three slides to communicate the differentiating elements of their business ideas. Feedback is built into the event, with every presenter getting live feedback on the spot from the audience as soon they are done with their pitch. Meaning, presenters not only hone their pitching skills, but also receive critical feedback from Babson’s ecosystem of entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts. The feedback received, connections made, and exposure gained all live on beyond the event and often play a role in the evolution of the ventures presented.
This year’s Rocket Pitch on Thursday, November 8 was the third go-around for Matthew Vega-Sanz, CEO and co-founder of Lula Rides. Rocket Pitch, along with the Blank Center’s Summer Venture Program and B.E.T.A Challenge, is a thread that runs through the incredible narrative of Lula Rides’ journey. In 2016, he and his twin brother, Michael, were just beginning app development when he presented at Rocket Pitch. His pitch led to a feature on BostInno, which in turn meant the exposure they needed to finally surpass a major challenge: finding an insurance carrier.
By the time the 2017 Rocket Pitch came around, Lula Rides was in a very different place. Matthew says they were excited heading into the event, knowing how impactful Rocket Pitch had been for them a year prior: “If we were able to get that many cool opportunities… imagine now when we have traction.” But the Vega-Sanz brothers didn’t rest on their laurels. They continued to iterate and, this year at Rocket Pitch, Matthew pitched a pivot. Moving beyond just car sharing, Lula Rides is going to be the “one-stop shop for shared mobility,” including bikes, scooters, and more. Given that they had a brand new pitch, Matthew was primarily looking for feedback from the audience. And he got it, with questions ranging from risks to revenue model.
Similarly, Juan Giraldo MBA ’18, CEO and co-founder of Waku, had pitched before at Rocket Pitch. Reflecting on his first experience, he says, “The first Rocket Pitch, we were really early. We had the idea. It was really an idea, honestly.” This year, Rocket Pitch was an opportunity for Juan to reconnect with the Babson community and to let the audience know about Waku’s progress. Juan had a really exciting update to share: Just hours before his pitch, he landed an investor to lead his fundraising round. And this development had a domino effect – when Juan shared the news and asked for investors and partners to take Waku to the next level, several people approached him post pitch to ask for his deck and terms.
With an enthusiastic and supportive audience, Rocket Pitch is the ideal place to make an ask. When Ryan Laverty ’20, first time Rocket Pitch participant but no stranger to presenting, pitched Arist, the SMS university, he ended with a call to action: “We need content creators, professors, professionals in their industry. So, if you know someone who’s bright who has a message to share, please send them along.” By asking for content creators to write courses and adapt curricula for SMS delivery, Ryan hoped to leverage the Rocket Pitch opportunity.
First time pitcher Zoya Alim MBA’19 made an ask for advisors and team members for her venture The Soul Bake. It has started to pan out – Multiple people have contacted her post pitch to talk about collaborating. Others have stopped by when she is working in Olin just to chat about her product. And, Zoya plans to incorporate the feedback she received on her business into her next pitch. She appreciated the richness of the feedback, largely due to the diversity of experiences and backgrounds represented in the audience: “People from different experience have different thoughts about one single product.”
With Rocket Pitch, there is an innate opportunity for collaboration, whether presenter to audience member or presenter to presenter, and for iteration. Kimia Sadeghi ’20, founder of Luana Beverages, took away a lot from watching Waku and Goba Tea. Taking full advantage of Rocket Pitch as a “learning experience” and a chance to work on her pitching, she was inspired by her peers in the beverage industry and planned to reach out to them after the event to talk decks. As well, she reflected on the feedback she received from the audience, especially one question pertaining to her share of the passion orange guava juice market, and plans to address it in her pitch going forward.
Do you have an ask? Need feedback? Want to network? Rocket Pitch truly is a versatile event that will meet your needs and sometime even surprise you. As Matthew Vega-Sanz put it, “Rocket Pitch brings opportunity no matter what stage you’re at.”