You can't slow down when you've only got three minutes
I’ll tell you straight up, I flubbed the pitch.
We had 3 minutes to get through six slides and make our case for ten thousand dollars. This was the qualifying round. I’ll explain.
I got accepted into a Women’s entrepreneur program. For eight months we explored marketing, finance, and how to manage ourselves during business stress.
The program was broken into three distinct business streams, social enterprises, scalable, and small businesses. Each member of the different cohorts would deliver their three-minute deck and the judges would choose three winners from each stream.
The nine finalists will compete in a public competition in May to win $30,000 dollars to be awarded to three winners, one from each stream.
I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote, again and again, to get my slide to tell a complete story in three minutes.
I practiced my pitch, and timing to make sure three minutes. I kept up my exercises and healthy eating (no more 24 Kit-Kats in a day thank you very much!). And I made sure to be on a healthy sleep cycle.
Pitch day came and by 4:30 am I was awake. I did some light stretching, some yoga and sat down at my laptop to go through the pitch again, two minutes and fifty-two seconds as long as I spoke at a clip. Great!
I purged my computer, cleared the cache, and shut it down. I wanted to ensure it was at optimal operating capacity. No lags.
Finally, it was1:00 pm on the day. I was pitching third.
I entered the Zoom room, set up my deck, and waited for the judges.
I have no problems with giving any type of presentation and I’m perfectly comfortable in front of a crowd.
Suddenly my palms started to sweat. I mentioned it in our Zoom chat and got a great message of encouragement back from one of my classmates, Carol. Carol toils in laughter. It’s her business. She’s the cheerleader of our great group.
“Kay Valley of HomeBAnx” went the introduction and I was speaking. I got to slide three — the one above. I tried to glance at my timer — I couldn’t see it. Slides three and four are the meat of the presentation.
They tell the story that even when the builder is a not-for-profit the building costs are still high making their homes unreachable for the under-housed and the unhoused. And that’s where HomeBAnx comes in. We solve the problem by partnering directly with the municipality to build homes on their land. We charge a low 10% on projects under one million and 1% on projects 1 million and more.
Then we give away the homes to the people the community organizations have recommended.
I slowed down. At the part of the presentation that had the most info, I slowed down. I don’t know why. I was just about to turn to the last slide when time was called. That’s it. I didn’t finish.
You win the qualifying round based on a scoring system. You have to hit each of the required topics in each category to score highly to move on to the finals. Since I didn’t get to the last slide I missed those points.
That was March 31. On April 1 the incubator sent out the finalists. I already knew my name wasn’t on the list, but to see it not there, stung. But, the three who did win were absolutely fabulous!
The problem for me isn’t losing. I’m fine with that. I slowed down and that was dumb. The problem is I have a tendency to think my idea and my work are irrelevant and frankly, stupid and unworkable if someone doesn’t believe in them.
That was my struggle for the past week, to fight to remember this is a viable plan to get people into beautiful homes. I replayed the pitch endlessly and finally concluded I lost because my pitch wasn’t good enough. The fact I didn’t finish it was a blessing for those forced to listen to my garbage.
I was coming out of my funk until today, April 7.
One of my daughters started a new job and we were on our way to get her some more tops for work. My phone was connected to the car when the call came through.
It was Addy from our program.
“Hi, Kay. Do you have a few minutes?”
“Of course.” My heart dropped. “What’s going on?”
“Would you be able to compete in the final pitch contest?”
“Uh. No.” I bubbled. “Just kidding! What?!”
One of the finalists had to leave the competition, I don’t know why and it seems odd, but there it is. I was the runner up and now I’m back in play to do the pitch for ten thousand dollars.
I screamed a lot. My daughter laughed — she helped me put the pictures together — then she asserted, “You’re amazing.”
“You lost your last business, and here you are, just doing a new business all over again. You’re amazing.”
Win or lose that money, it doesn’t matter. I have all the validation I need.