At The University of Texas at Dallas, there is an annual pitch competition called the Big Idea Competition, where startup teams compete through an application round and semifinal pitch round for a chance to take the stage at finals in front of about 1000 people and a panel of distinguished judges (e.g. Mark Cuban was a judge in 2015).
This year, there were 134 teams that applied to the competition—a new record! To add to the hype, this year’s celebrity judge was Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple executive, venture capitalist, and author. Needless to say, the campus was tingling in anticipation.
My startup, Immosis, decided to apply this year. However, we’re a game studio turning into a digital agency, so we didn’t have a product that could compete at the time. But given our team’s technical expertise and will to compete, we created a mobile app concept called Dynamic Dance, which helps people practice dance techniques using augmented reality (we chose the application of dance because we’re familiar with it, but the overarching concept is human training).
We became one of the 30 semifinalist teams, and then one of the 6 teams to advance to finals. Words cannot express the immense gratitude and exhilaration that flowed through our team’s minds as we read the congratulatory email. We were going to pitch to Guy Kawasaki!
From there, our team went into hyperdrive. We refined our pitch and created the app prototype. Not a single day or mentor meeting went by without there being a change in the pitch, whether it was about the business model, go-to-market strategy, or the entire pitch itself. The process was intense, but as a result, to say that we learned a lot is an understatement.
Finally, the big night arrived, and we took the stage. It’s fascinating how the anxiety that built up for weeks to that moment suddenly washed away upon walking onto the stage. It was as if a strange calm had taken over my body. I grabbed the microphone and clicker with stable hands. The silence was ours, and we broke it with the best pitch that we’ve ever given. It was a night and experience that we will always remember.
Although we didn’t walk away with a prize that night, we walked away with a larger confidence in our team. To advance to finals as the only team with a new idea was a major accomplishment, and not only were we able to pitch the app, but we also demonstrated our technical execution by creating the ambitious prototype in such a short time.
Now when another business competition or opportunity comes our way, we’ll be extra prepared to take off running once more. Looking forward to pitching again!