My final project in a Digital Media entrepreneurship class involved writing a basic business plan for a proposed product and presenting it at the end of the semester. Grad students presented everything from social networking sites to apps for late-night food delivery. The judges included a prolific Boston news writer and an IBM executive among others, and they critiqued each proposal from a variety of perspectives: Who’s your target audience? Why should they buy into your idea? What’s the potential ROI? What data/research supports your assumptions? etc… By the time I was done, I realized that I’d have to re-evaluate my business model and do more research on my market to strengthen my arguments with facts. That experience positively affected the way I critically assess plans and value propositions.
Just this Monday I attended another MomoNigeria meeting…but with a twist: Pitch Monday. It was at a bigger venue (TerraKulture) and had event sponsorship from Dealfish (never underestimate the draw of food or free stuff). My impression of the event was that our developers certainly do not lack enthusiasm in describing their work. However, it was clear that further training in the art of presentation as well as exposure to basic business plans would be to their advantage as not everyone was able to pass across the required information eloquently and/or within the allotted time. While the presenters were generally comfortable describing their platforms and design plans, quite a few struggled on marketing and monetization. So after the presentation, Tomi Davies (COO of Mobitel, another sponsor) gave the presenters and audience a few pointers on how to give a good elevator pitch which covered the most salient points.
While it might be difficult to hear critiques of your work or ideas (especially if you’ve put in a lot of effort) it’s important to note constructive criticism for one basic reason: Improvement. If a comment reveals a hole in your plan that you did not forsee, find out how you can fix it. Also, I think the comments that you disagree with can be just as important. Line up your facts and supporting evidence; see if you can find a more succinct and persuasive argument to win them over next time.
So thumbs up to all the presenters who made an effort at Pitch Monday and I hope they learned a thing or two. It’s nice to have a good product or idea…but you have to sell it!