I will never forget the first time that I realised why America is the leader of the free world and what that really looks like. Sure, I had been on holidays to the United States before just like lots of other people; shopping in New York, theme parks in California. But it wasn’t until I was part of the winning team of the John Heine Entrepreneurial Challenge in 2009 and was chosen to represent Australia in the Global Moot Corp Competition held at the University of Texas, that I truly understood the American impetus for driving business innovation and technology and how that in turn drives business globally.
The competitions that I speak of are aimed at MBA graduates who develop a business idea and plan, one which they intend to launch and pitch this idea to a panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The pitch is comprised of three parts; a written business plan, a business plan presentation by all team members for 30 mins with additional Q&A from the panel and a 60 second elevator pitch to an open audience by one team member, which was me. These competitions are not comprised of fluffy pronouncements about projected earnings or promises to produce the next best mousetrap. The tech needs to be solid. The financials need to be credible and stand up to the scrutiny of some very experienced investors like the Melbourne Angels. And the pathway to launch needs to have sound logistics. We fought hard during the Australian rounds and beat all the other competing Australian universities and we were confident in our prep work heading over to Texas for the global competition.
We had beefed up our pitch to focus on a larger launch plan encompassing the global markets, which would not only increase our potential earnings but would accelerate the path to market. I had memorised my presentation and could say it verbatim in my sleep. I was there to win and so was the rest of our team. Each member had worked hard and was willing to go the distance needed to win.
Our team was comprised of our founder and CEO, who had licensed the technology we were pitching from the CSIRO. A finance expert who had been involved in many significant IPO’s on the ASX. A logistics expert who worked in plastics technology and design for a leading Australian manufacturer. Our academic advisor and seasoned entrepreneurial coach. And me, practicing the dark arts of marketing and sales and highly proficient in jazz hands for presentations.
Despite the throngs of people, the University of Texas was just like any other university campus that I had ever seen more or less (Go Long Horns), just bigger and maybe a little bit prettier. It certainly didn’t create any degree of intimidation in me, just the joy of the buzz of all the competitors from leading universities around the globe who were just as determined as we were to win the competition for their respective countries.