I was sitting in my entrepreneurship class at Ball State University when my professor began to tell us about the BIG Idea Pitch competition. She encouraged us to participate in the competition as it would be an excellent opportunity to make connections, practice pitching, and even win a cash prize. As my professor was talking, I began to get nervous about participating. I knew that the BIG Idea Pitch was a great opportunity, but I wondered if I had what it took to participate in the competition without making a fool out of myself. After pondering it for a while, I finally got the courage to take one step forward and sign up for the first training camp.
Fast forward to the training camp, I was able to not only learn about business ideas and how to come up with them, but I was introduced to the Innovation Connector staff. Since I was born and raised in Muncie, I always knew of the Innovation Connector but never got a chance to work with their team. The Innovation Connector staff not only welcomed me but everyone at the training camp with open arms. They suggested that if we need assistance with our business idea or need help developing a pitch, the Innovation Connector staff will meet with us. I took another step forward and scheduled a meeting with their executive director, Ted Baker.
At my first meeting with Ted, he helped me develop an outline for my pitch. I will never forget his words to me in my first meeting after I told him about my business idea. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m proud of you for doing this.” After he said that, I thought to myself, “how can someone be proud of me that just met me.” Well, Ted knew the boldness that it took to not only participate in the BIG Idea Pitch but also to ask for help.
The next two weeks leading up to the pitch night, my nerves started to disappear. The more that I practiced my pitch, the more confident I felt about presenting. I reminded myself to have a conversation with the judges about my business rather than a “perfectly written pitch.” When I showed up to the pitch competition, I felt nervous, but they were the kind of nerves that make you excited to present. Once my name was called, I went inside, I made eye contact with the judges, and I had a conversation with them about my business idea.
After my presentation, I stuck around for a while to hear the semi-finalists announced, and sure enough, my name was called. I got chosen to participate in the final competition at the Innovation Connector’s Excellence in Innovation Awards banquet at the Horizon Convention Center. What did this mean for me? It meant that I was in the running to win up to $4,000 by going on stage and having a conversation with people attending that dinner. So, I attended the dinner, pitched my idea, and came away with a 3rd place prize of $2,500 and business services to advance my idea.
Looking back on the experience, there are a couple of things that I learned. The first thing I learned is that pitching isn’t as bad as it seems. Pitching my business has built my confidence and experience tremendously. The second thing I learned is that people are more willing to help you than you think. It is easy to feel as if we don’t have a support system when we’re creating something new, but we’re actually surrounded by hundreds of people that will help us if we ask. Lastly, it is important to expose yourself to new opportunities and events, no matter who you are and what you do. The world is out there, and we have the choice to get up and get it.
You could have the chance to prove the potential of your business idea, meet people who can help you succeed, and even win a cash prize at the BIG Idea Pitch Competition. You can find more information about training camps and how to register your idea by going to www.innovationconnector.com