I judged the NFTE Quarter Final competition at a local San Francisco high school today. One of the pitches was made by 9th grader Simran Pabla. Her startup is called Ready4Rain.
Here's a video of her pitch to the judges: (Skip to minute 1:39 to see her start presenting)
Here's some feedback for Simran -- please feel free to give her your feedback here as well:
I'll give you a bunch more feedback (and others may as well) but first just drop me a comment below so I know you're getting this. And good luck at the regional competition!
Thank you so much for the feedback! I will definitely incorporate this and any other feedback into my presentation before the next round.
My main piece of feedback is to think beyond umbrellas. Or at least, umbrellas in K-12 schools. For example, this might be a great thing for universities that have multiple buildings, or corporate campuses. I'd really encourage you to get written buy-in from administrators at some of those larger scale type institutions. For example, if you could sell 100 or 1000 of your "umbrella pods" before your next pitch, that would be huge. And if you can't actually get the sale done, but you could get an email from one or more of your target buyers saying "I'm interested" and then show that in your pitch, that would also be great.
But what you're really doing isn't offering umbrellas. Instead, you're offering students a way to be able to focus on their schoolwork more effectively, because their books aren't wet. You're reducing friction in their lives by taking away a pain point they have. And you just happen to be doing it with umbrellas. But I really encourage you to think bigger.
A few examples of how you could think bigger:
I've asked Steve to invite the other judges to post feedback here, but I'd also encourage you to find their contact info and ask them to post feedback here as well.
Also, feel free to videotape yourself doing a revised pitch based on the feedback above, and post it as a comment in this thread, and I'll be happy to give you updated feedback based on that.
And CONGRATS! I heard you're moving on to the next step of the competition!
Thank you for all your help! I incorporated a lot of your feedback into my presentation before the next round, in which I ended up placing 3rd!
I got a letter of intent from my principal as you had suggested, which really boosted my presentation. One of the judges suggested using a subscription model instead of a flat fee, which is what I'm looking into now. I will definitely look into expanding my business beyond schools and corporations in the near future.
Simran, that's fantastic news, congrats. GREAT re: letter of intent! Agreed that a subscription model is attractive -- getting that MRR (monthly recurring revenue) is a beautiful thing! Then you just sit back and collect checks :) (well, not quite that easy, but investors do love MRR because it's a stable revenue source).
So what's next? Are you going to actually implement some of these ideas at a school?
My principal is interested in deploying my service at my school from the next year, and he's referred me to some other principals as well. I'll be meeting my principal when the next school year starts to discuss numbers. Right now, I'm talking to other places that are interested and exploring ways to reduce theft - maybe by using tags to track the umbrellas.
Sick of endless PowerPoint slides? If you want to take your presentation to the next level, and you know basic HTML, you can hack together a presentation on an iPad that lets you interact with your content like never before. I call it "PowerPinch" because you can pinch, swipe and zoom seamlessly with your presentation, and focus in on the content you're talking about, then zoom out quickly and move on to the next thing. It's seriously liberating.
First, some caveats: Creating a presentation like this takes more work than throwing a PowerPoint together. (I'd also argue that the output is obviously better than PowerPoint too). But if you just need to throw some messaging together, or if your pitch is still in a mode where it's iterating quickly, I'd suggest you get a flow down with PowerPoint first, and then move it to PowerPinch. You'll also need to be able to work within a photo editing program -- I use PhotoShop -- to put the pitch together.
Ready to have at it? First, here's a video showing what a PowerPinch presentation looks like:
Sick of endless PowerPoint slides? If you want to take your presentation to the next level, and you know basic HTML, you can hack together a presentation on an iPad that lets you interact with your content like never before. I call it "PowerPinch" because you can pinch, swipe and zoom seamlessly with your presentation, and focus in on the content you're talking about, then zoom out quickly and move on to the next thing. It's seriously liberating. First, some caveats: Creating a presentation like this takes more work than throwing a PowerPoint together. (I'd also argue that the output is obviously better than PowerPoint too). But if you just need to throw some messaging together, or if your pitch is still in a mode where it's iterating quickly, I'd suggest you get a flow down with PowerPoint first, and then move it to PowerPinch. You'll also need to be able to work within a photo editing program -- I use PhotoShop -- to put the pitch together. Ready to have at it? First, here's a video showing what a PowerPinch presentation looks like: > The first step is to make what I call Image Tiles that form each "slide." Assuming you'll be using an iPad for this, you want to oversize the tile resolution so you can zoom in on the tile on the iPad. The iPad's resolution is 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels tall. I made each image tile 1859 pixels wide by 1347 pixels tall. To the right is what one of my image tiles looks like that I used in the video above. I create the image tile in PhotoShop as a .psd and then save it as a .png. You want to keep the .pngs at 1 megabyte or smaller, or the presentation will get unruly as you add image tiles. I save the .png to my public dropbox folder. That way, whenever I update the .png, the hosted file is also automatically updated. So, for example, this is the URL of the Image Tile at right: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1096184/pitch/main/00070_hor_soc_overview.png . And the next Image Tile URL is http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1096184/pitch/main/00080_hor_soc_overview_soon.png. (If you don't know what Dropbox is, that's outside the scope of this blog, but I highly encourage you to read my blog on playing a computer like an instrument, that talks about Dropbox and how it works, along with other lifehacker productivity tools.) You'll also notice that the Image Tiles are named with numbers at the beginning. For example, the first one is 00070_hor_soc_overview.png and the next one is 00080_hor_soc_overview_soon.png. More on the reason for that later. Once you have a few Image Tiles created, you'll want to string them together with a simple HTML file. You can find and view source on the full, finished HTML file that I load onto the iPad by clicking here. You'll notice that I put a spacer .png file between each Image Tile to give them some spacing. A screenshot of the code is at left. Next, just open the web page you just coded on your iPad using Safari, and choose "Add to Home Screen." Doing this allows you to make the PowerPinch presentation look like an "app" and keeps the Safari URL bar from showing on the screen. That's all there is to it. You'll be rocking PowerPinch presentations in no time. Here are a few other things you'll need to know: You'll want to pick up either a VGA iPad connector or an HDMI iPad connector so you can output your iPad on a big screen. I went all out and connected mine to a 10 foot VGA extension cable, since many board rooms have short cables, and I really like to be able to walk around with iPad in hand while I'm presenting. Also, the reason I name my Image Tiles with numbers in front of the file name is so they're easy to print when you want to compile them into a PDF to email out. Here's the process to turn your PowerPinch presentation into a PDF on a Mac: Highlight the Image Tiles you want to print, choose "open with" and select Preview. This will open all your Image Tiles in the correct order. Then choose "print" and either Save as PDF, or if you have PDFpen, choose Open with PDFpen. Then you can edit the PDF to taste (remove pages, rearrange, etc) and mail it off. For advanced users, I recommend you make a Quartz Filter to reduce the file size (if you want to know how to do this, just leave a comment below). I'm sure there are ways to optimize this process; please let me know what you figure out! Here are a few other presentations I've done using PowerPinch:
During my second year at college, I thought that investing was easy. I read about options, paper traded for a few months, and then solicited my friends for investments. Many of them invested in my hedge fund - "The H Fund", which I started with a friend. In total we had $26k, which was quite a lot considering how young we were.
The fund survived for a few months, even being profitable for a short amount of time. In the end, though, we lost all of the money. Luckily I have awesome friends who understood the risk, and no one was mad. Still - I learned my lessons and stayed out of the stock market for years.
For some reason or another I started reading about Warren Buffet. For those that don't know, he is the second richest man in the US, with a worth of over 40 billion. What makes him exceptional is that he is the only person on the top 100 richest people list who made his money through investing.