Rocket Pitch 2017
All eyes on you, your idea meets the world, standing room only, 3 minutes, “Go.”
Rocket Pitch at Babson is the culmination of countless hours of ideation, action, and the pursuit of something beyond what exists. It brings together many people from diverse backgrounds, especially founders, angel investors, students, and entrepreneurial thinkers. For some, it is the first time they have pitched their idea in front of a live audience. For others, it may be the fiftieth time they’ve pitched their growing business, yet the Rocket Pitch format still makes it a special occasion.
Pitchers have a maximum of three slides (typically one slide per minute) with which to explain to their audience why their idea/business is awesome. Then, while the audience gives feedback, the pitcher listens but cannot respond.
When I first got invited to pitch, my heart jumped! I had submitted my idea for BikeLord a few weeks before, but was pretty nervous about the prospect of pitching in front of 60+ people, most of whom I didn’t know. Even though it is a business I have been really working on, for a quick second I considered dropping out of the pitch, mainly because the idea popped into my head that “it’s not good enough.” However, I decided to look at Rocket Pitch as an opportunity to gather feedback and practice public speaking, and this perspective gave me the motivation to continue.
The event was held in Olin Hall, with four different rooms to pitch in (Consumer Products/Other, Food/Bev/Tech/Mobile, Tech/Mobile, Service/Social). I was lucky (or unfortunate) enough to be going first. As I stood at the front watching people file in, I saw a number of familiar faces in the audience smiling back at me, my classmates, and felt a little bit reassured. The pitch went pretty well, considering how nervous I was. I had practiced it countless times in front of many different people, but it’s not quite the same as sharing in front of a live audience. My format was essentially to start with narrative – a story about how I first had the inspiration. Then I moved into findings based on primary and secondary research, and segwayed into what BikeLord is and how it offers value to customers. Finally, I finished with an “Ask”, meaning what it is that the business needs (people typically ask for co-founders/help, money, and sign-ups).
At that point, feedback opened up, with a number of audience members contributing, questioning, and commenting. It was invaluable information, but it was also quite difficult to not answer the questions that were being asked, especially when it was a question I was excited about! The purpose of the no-response model is for presenters to understand where they were not clear and compelling, and what next steps they can take to potentially develop their idea. This allows people who might be nervous to give “incorrect” feedback to feel disinhibited enough to share, thereby gathering more valuable information for the pitcher.
With my pitch done, I was free to roam about with the audience. The mobile app for the event listed all of the different pitches with their times, so people would move in and out of the different pitch rooms depending on their tastes and interests. Some of the highlights for me were ForkOut, a new way to pick a place to eat, Generation Nine, a streetwear brand, and Bluum, a way to grow your Instagram network using algorithms. I was consistently impressed by not only the value propositions of the businesses I saw, but also the amount of participation from the audience. After each session, I saw many pitchers connect with interested members of the audience. The end of the event was a networking reception, where the conversations and ideas continued to abound. Many successful companies have come out of the Rocket Pitch, and regardless of what the final outcomes are for this year’s participants, I’m excited to see their next steps.