Throughout our Design Thinking for Start-ups module we were reminded of our Dragons Den style presentation at the end of the course. It was very helpful that we had a few ‘mock’ Dragons Dens before the real one as it helped us familiarise with the format of the pitching and the way the judges would be marking our work. Essentially, each team had 6 minutes to pitch their product/service to 4 judges from various industries and 10 minutes to answer the judges’ questions. Then the judges’ marks were combined with the marks from the Business Reports to form one grade.
The main issue facing our team was the lack of enthusiasm which judges perceived as a lack of belief in our business. We were aware of that problem as it had been pointed out to us multiple times throughout the module and we tried to work on it by practicing.
Our 6 minute pitch was divided by 3 people which meant 2 minutes each to pitch. We distributed the sections of our pitch by the tasks we each worked on so I did the Elevator Pitch, Future plans and Lessons Learned.
I have a problem with memorising stuff. I just can’t do it. But because I know our business from the inside-out, I had less trouble this time around with pitching my part confidently. I just made a small bullet point list to guide me through the main talking points and I focused on being enthusiastic while pitching.
The way we practiced for the final Dragons Den was very simple. I had written the main body of the script which I then distributed to my teammates so they can further add to it or customise it. After each one of us was convinced by their sections, we started reading the pitch as we were going to present it and we timed it. The first read was 9 minutes, so we had to trim the unimportant parts of the pitch. We worked that way until we reached exactly 6 minutes. That’s when we started reading it over and over again until we perfected the timing and the delivery.
We also agreed on letting each team member answer a judge’s question that was relating to their section of the pitch. That meant that I had to answer any question that was related to the sections that were assigned to me. That way we avoided confusion when questions were asked and we looked professional, confident and organised.
When we finished pitching I was surprised to know that our presentation was still lacking enthusiasm and energy according to the criticism we got. Our improvement from the previous Dragons Dens was still not up to the required level and we accept that. We have to keep practicing! I guess what we were all going through at the time was not easy to deal with.
The COVID-19 Pandemic hit us out of nowhere and the fear combined with the stress of the presentation was a bit too much for some people.
If I have one piece of advice for future MACE generations it would be to practice over and over again. Don’t memorise the script, just understand what you should be talking about and practice it as much as you can. If you feel nervous before the pitching (which we all do, even the most seasoned pitchers), try to establish a warm-up ritual and remember that even if you forget something no one will notice and you will be fine. Just keep on going and pitch confidently and enthusiastically.