This week marked the halfway point for the accelerator – six weeks done, six to go. We asked the Finalists to delivery three minute “pitches” to a small group of mentors (and to each other) with at least five goals in mind:
1. Communicate where things stand on their business/organization concepts
2. Allow mentors to see where not only their own entrepreneurs stand, but all the others
3. Finalists would receive advice from new sources
4. Provide a networking event for mentors and Finalists
5. All entrepreneurs need practice on their pitches
I believe we succeeded on all counts. About twenty mentors showed up and gave terrific guidance to all the Finalists; everyone met one another and networked well; many participants commented on how much they learned about the business plans through the pitches; and the Finalists finished the event knowing that they could improve their presentations.
Personally I found the session eye-opening because I learned many things about priorities and business models that had evolved and progressed since the beginning of the program. It’s hard to get this information in our evening sessions, and the pitches allow for a quick communication of the “big picture.” I was extremely pleased to see this progress – clearly the mentors and Finalists have been working hard!
As for the actual presentations, having outside perspectives helped as well. To be honest, I wasn’t worried about the varied nature of the presentation styles, because at this point I know the individuals so well that I felt their presentations simply reflected themselves. But, because a number of the mentors mentioned the uneven nature of the presentation styles, it’s dawned on me that I know the Finalists too well, and I have to put myself in the shoes of a first time listener who might be considering investing or partnering with a Finalist. For those people, presentation and style matter. And so we’ll be working with the Finalists in coming sessions on improving their presentations – not just their content but also their delivery. I’m sure this training will stand them in good stead for a long time!
I want to thank the mentors who attended – the support you showed for all the Finalists, the probing questions and advice you offered, and the positive feedback you delivered afterward made a huge difference to the Finalists.