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I’ve been an MBA student at BABSON for less than three months. Time might look short, but if there is something that I have done much more often than what I believed I would do in just three months is “pitching”.
The “business pitch culture” at Babson is very strong. I heard once from a classmate that even when one is having a beer at the campus pub (specially during Rocket Pitch season), one could simply be approached by a fellow student, who invites you to do your pitch in front of him/her. And I’m not surprised. If we recall that Babson has been ranked as the No. School for Entrepreneurship for 18 years, such a culture is very consistent with the type of school we are.
Whether you like public speaking or not, business pitching becomes a skill we all develop and some of us master. Formal and informal spaces at the school allow us to do so. For instance, as part of my first Entrepreneurship class (which I had during Module 1, which is the first half of the Fall Semester) I was required to pitch twice. The experience was transformational. At first, you feel under pressure, you feel unprepared, you feel uncomfortable: max. 3 slides in max. 3 minutes is not an easy task (when Spanish is you native language, being succinct is not a particular strength!). But after couple of pitches you realize that the panic just vanished and that the connection between you and your idea is more powerful than anything else.
Babson Rocket Pitch 2011
Another special space at Babson to show your ideas to the world is the Babson Rocket Pitch, which is an annual event where Babson and Olin entrepreneurs (students and alumni) are invited to pitch their business ideas to a large audience of students, faculty, entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers – also under the 3 slides/3 minutes format. As one of the students who pitched, I can say that this was a particularly special day. One could see how many people were pitching not because it was a class assignment (which as said, tends to be our first experience with doing an elevator pitch), but because they really wanted to do so.
“Idea Live” is also an additional activity that students have available to hone our “pitching” skills, even if it is not an official rocket pitch or business plan competition. It is a less formal event where students can discuss their ideas and receive feedback in a fun and energized environment. Each presenter has 5 minutes to discuss his or her business idea. No Powerpoint slides, but a white board will be available if needed.
I believe it is very important to realize that even if traditionally a pitch is directed at anyone who might want to provide funding for an entrepreneur’s venture, you can pitch for many reasons beyond funding, like for example to find high level advisors, new partners or new employees. Or you simply pitch because you want to get feedback on your idea, being the latter probably the most powerful take away from any pitch you deliver.