21 March 2017
Business Plan Competition
As an avid watcher of programmes such as Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice, I was very much interested in the Business Plan Competition. Some friends and I decided to take a shot at coming up with an idea and making a business plan for it. We submitted this, but didn’t expect anything to come of it.
Imagine our surprise when we were notified that we had got through to the final and we were to be pitching to a panel of renowned entrepreneurs within a week! It became very real very quickly and we had a lot to learn.
We had to think about the product more, how it would work, where and how it would be manufactured, how we would sell it, how we would advertise, how much initial investment we would need, etc. We had to be ready to make a five-minute pitch and answer questions. We were pushed for time, but it was incredibly fun working through problems and figuring out details. We learnt a lot of new things very quickly such as what a value proposition was, what TAM (Total Accessible Market) is, and how to create a financial and revenue model. The school organised a session teaching speaking skills and how to pitch well.
We had had very little time to practise and prepare for the pitch – we hadn’t even had a proper run through before the day of it! The Judges included the founders of companies such as Shazam, VentureSprings and Swiftkey. It was inspirational to hear their stories.
The pitch itself went well – we gave a five-minute presentation detailing our product, and how we would go about turning it into a success. Then we faced some tricky questions and breathed a sigh of relief.
It was a valuable experience – we learnt how to turn an idea into something that is viable for investment, and how to pitch to potential investors.
Our team won the prize for Marketing and a trip to the Microsoft Accelerator in London. The trip was inspiring; we learned how Accelerators help to grow start-ups and got to talk to entrepreneurs who have successfully started their own businesses.
I am incredibly happy that I got the chance to experience this and it is wonderful that the school gives us these opportunities.
Joining this business competition was not an easy decision for me because I’ve never been great at public speaking, but I had an idea that I wanted to enter. Throughout the planning stages, the positive feedback that I got from everyone I pitched to was overwhelming. It gave me the confidence to go up and pitch to the panel of judges. In the end, I won a prize for innovation which was unexpected and a great honour. All of the ideas were interesting to hear about and the teams all pitched very professionally. I learned lots about pitching and what it takes to build a start-up. To further this learning experience, I was fortunate enough to go to the Microsoft Accelerator in London where I saw start-ups truly taking shape and becoming real businesses. We heard from four different companies in the accelerator and the staff there who were all warm and welcoming. The amount of energy, creativity and productivity that the space held was incredible and very inspiring.