Students so focused on the presentation they forget to slump in their seats, a speaker who finds a way to connect with everyone in the room, a financial reward that makes it worth the effort. The UNM Business Plan Competition is underway, and John Freisinger is explaining how to win it.
Do a Powerpoint only as a last resort.
Freisinger, president and Chief Executive Officer for Technology Ventures Corporation, listens to hundreds of pitches from hopeful entrepreneurs. TVC helps build technology based companies. And he spends a fair amount of time telling those hopeful entrepreneurs how to say it better.
On Friday, March 27, each of the 27 teams in competition this year will have 15 minutes to tell a panel of judges what their business is, who their customers are, why their product is needed and how they plan to move from plan to reality.
The teams are on two tracks. Students who have technology they want to develop are competing for a $25,000 first prize, a $20,000 second price and a $15,000 third prize. Students who have a more traditional business venture will compete for a $7,500 first prize, a $5,000 second prize and a $2,500 third place prize.
The financial reward helps drive home the importance of thinking through a plan to start a business and to persuade always distracted students to spend the time, discipline and mental energy it takes to put together a presentation that will work for investors far outside the business school. It’s competitive training for the real world.
Look your audience in the eye.
Give them just enough information to spur them to act.
The UNM Business Plan Competition is in its 10th year. Distinguished Professor of Management of Technology Suleiman “Sul” Kassicieh started the competition as a way to give UNM students focus and place to practice their pitches before they faced real potential investors.
Students interested in participating in the competition begin to work on their business ideas in the fall. They participate in a series of events that teach them everything from financial information they will need to start a business to ways to research the competition. Freisinger is telling them how to present themselves to investors, and how to polish their presentation skills.
Record what you want to say.
Write it down.
Play it back to yourself again and again.
Practice on your friends, your mother, your dog.
Practice in your mirror.
Teams can range from one to five people. They don’t all have to speak. But Freisinger emphasizes that investors like to hear that the technical person can communicate, that the marketing person knows the target customers, and they want to hear the team leader has a handle on the product and the way to make the plan into a business.
For students who are not ready to face a 15 minute presentation, STC.UNM is sponsoring an elevator pitch competition for technology track ideas. Students have 90 seconds to make a convincing case. If they are good, they move into a second round with a three minute opportunity. The finalists will compete for a $2,500 prize. Five teams will receive the prizes. Winners are decided by audience voting.
Leave them feeling good about you.
And, Freisinger reminds them, leave your audience with a way to contact you. It is very important that investors have a way to find you later.
Some UNM students are preparing to launch their careers by building a business. At Anderson, faculty and guest lecturers are doing everything possible to make that launch successful.