April 20, 2009

Struck By Cupid

I won my first business competition! It feels like a dream. Unreal. Of course I went into the competition prepared with my slides, my story and a super high dose of passion—ready to win it. But when I actually won, when I stood there next to Kevin Plank and a held this humongous check, the kind you only see in movies, I was completely ecstatic and surprised. No matter how much I knew I wanted it and could win, to actually win is such an amazing feeling. It felt like everyone in the room, almost 300 people, the business students, my advisers, the judges, they all believed in College Media Group. I felt really proud of the business I had built thus far. I was proud of my team for all their hard work. I felt like after this, we could do anything.

I applied to the University of Maryland’s Cupid’s Cup Business Competition, sponsored by Kevin Plank, CEO and Founder of Under Armour, back in February and then found out I was one of five finalists to compete. So I spent over two weeks preparing slides, deleting them, and preparing new slides. Then I shared them with my advisers to get the business perspective—did I describe the spending power of my audience, explain the market size, present a visual of my growth projections? Once I had my message down, I re-organized my slides into a new order: Audience, Challenge, Solution, Growth, Business Plan, Competition, Team and Future.

For each slide, I wrote down three key speaking points and practiced presenting in front of my neighbors to get the outsider's perspective. They immediately pointed out that my presentation was an information overload. From there I went through my speaking points and only kept the "home run" statements. Then I rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed.

On the competition day of I tried not to get shaken by the other finalists. Watching them freak out too was not helping, so instead I went off to review my slides a couple times before showtime. I was the first to present. Sure every minute of that day was nerve wrecking, but once my mic was set up and I was standing in front of the crowd with the power point clicker in my hand, I felt calm and ready.

Stay tuned for my post on How to Pitch Your Business.

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