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Posted in May 2008

The Elevator Pitched me a curveball…

Giving an elevator pitch is not as easy as it seems. I confirmed this personally in YES!Delft‘s "Made in 60 seconds" elevator pitch contest. As the start of the activities of the High-tech Entrepreneurship week, coincidentally, it also marked the start of my Google Summer of Code project – Incubating an Android in Delft – which was the subject of my pitch. Anyway, as my name was called (I was the first contestant) I stepped up to the floor and started pitching-away…A few seconds into it I realized some of what I had prepared had vanished from my mind!! I managed to improvise but my pitch did not make as much sense as it should’ve, I confirmed this from questions from the jury at the end of first round.

Then, watching the other contestants’ pitches I noticed that the big-screen clock seemed to go slower than normal. That made me realize that time was the problem! It’s not that pitching-time is some sort of a time-warp or that talking in public is some obscure new art, but instead it’s a really simple problem: when pitching or just speaking in public some people tend to speak much faster (at least I usually do) than they usually would. Speaking clearly and articulately is something to keep in mind as it is crucial in getting one’s point across. I think this was the key take-away from the contest for me, in addition to giving concrete numbers (like money and so on) or data to create some sense of urgency.

I sticked around and enjoyed the rest of the event. During the third round there were some excellent pitches, even some really funny ones that deserved a standing ovation but didn’t manage to make it through to the final round. Feedback from the jury was really useful throughout the event, and with one of the jury members it even included up-close-and-personal advice on tactics and techniques to use when pitching – cocktail party, elevator or otherwise. After a final "why should I win" pitch, it was one of my previous classmates from Ken Morse’s ‘Starting New Ventures’ course that won the honors. All in all it was a great experience, surely worth repeating if only to hear about the great ideas floating around campus here in Delft and taking another swing at that convex elevator curve ball!

For those interested, my pitch and more information about my project can be found here: http://androidindelft.googlepages.com 

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