March 17. 05:00 in the morning. Getting ready to go out (yeah I live far from university, like a good 2 hours and a freaking half!). My palms are sweaty and I am not Eminem. I am revising my speech in the tube. Today is the day. Four judges. Four students. The time of truth- were we ready enough to “sell” our products to the dragons or will they breathe fire to our faces instead?
Okay, I will have to disappoint you a little, as I am not speaking about the TV series, but the “Dragon’s Den” that Kingston University London organises each year, as an exam of what we learned on our business journey. The goal was one- pitch our product (as you all already know our product is the wooden “EQUALYTIE” bowtie- the ultimate symbol of supporting gender equality in society) in a way that will convince the judges to “buy” our idea. Short and clear. We had 6 minutes and not a second more to try make that happen.
A week before this event we had a mock, like a repetition for the real Dragon’s Den, pitching our product in front of four different judges. It went perfectly smooth, even though we did not have a lot of time to practise. However, what this told us was more precious- we already knew our product so well, that even if we had to improvise we will do the best out of it!
We did have a lot of preparation, nerves, emotion, laugh, cry, complain, food, cigarettes and meetings before the 17th. What really helped was that we had to hand our business report at the same date, as one of the pitches. When preparing the business report, we used all we wrote about, as a final summary of all we did, and this helped us to write and design what exactly each of us should say in front of the dragons regarding our personal commitment to the project.
The results from the first pitch were really good! The judges mostly gave us 8’s on everything (the highest score was 10 per each section) apart from the financial section. We did not say enough and we kind of “slide through” the slides about finance. Also some parts of the presentation were too “crowded”. Less text as possible is always better, as the people will listen mostly to what you are saying, instead of reading huge text out of the presentation behind you. Also we had further ideas to work on our “Future” section, and thus we explored further opportunities if we, after all, decide to continue running our “EQUALYTIE” company.
All the practising, time and effort put in the project payed after all. But what I saw on 17th of March was something different. I saw three people I barely knew half a year ago, that not only changed and improved a lot, but I saw three friends, standing in a ready position to back up your sentence if you feel stuck for a moment. Although our team was not perfect, and we did fight a lot because of our differences at the beginning, we did find a way to manage the business, the others in the team, and mostly- ourselves.
Time went by. Our business changed. We changed. We upgraded ourselves to become better versions. We did a lot of sacrifices along the way, but most of all- we learned. And if this isn’t what really makes you feel alive, then I don’t know what is.