Pitch perfect: For $20,000 prize, student startups strengthen spiels

March 21 workshop introduces Office of Innovation’s new director and prepares for live finals.

Hope Li, Design Editor

VIDI Collective saves souls.

Postal Coast saves the ocean.

GenGen raises awareness.

And the Jakarta Academy of Performing Arts aims to revolutionize Indonesian education.

Biola students spearhead all four of these startups in the Biola Office of Innovation’s Startup Competition in hopes of winning the grand prize of $20,000.

During March 21’s Pitch Workshop, Director of the Office of Innovation Silvia Mah helped the four teams structure the perfect 10-minute pitch in preparation for the April 8 final round.

Mah said the previous director, Jordan Terranova, suggested she treat the teams to coffee, since the workshop marked her first event as the new director of the Office of Innovation. After a short trip to Heritage Cafe, Mah opened with her pitch-writing presentation.

“Tonight is about making sure your pitch is ready to go,” Mah said. “I want to learn more [about your product] whether you win or not.”

The teams integrated their elevator pitches with introductions to one another, then asked questions and took notes as Mah went over the structure, essentials and format of a winning pitch.

“Even though you would think, ‘Oh, a pitch competition is for investors, or it’s for judges,’ it’s really about translating your story into something that people are like, ‘I want to know more,’” Mah said. “The story is what sells, so you need to be able to sell that story that you’re trying to get across to your customers.”

ALL SYSTEMS GO

During the 15 minutes she gave the teams to start brainstorming their pitches, Mah encouraged them to think steps ahead, taking time to field questions as she walked around the room.

JAPA CEO and senior theatre major Raina Putri brainstormed with GenGen’s campaign copywriter sophomore business marketing management major Ben Chi about ideas for their own pitches, comparing ideas and giving feedback. Meanwhile, junior business administration major Cole Gorham, the CEO of VIDI Collective, worked with three other team members to develop a pitch.

At the event’s end, teams expressed their confidence and excitement going forward to the final live pitch on April 4.

“I’m feeling good,” Gorham said about his startup, which aims to sell fashion products to make documentaries aimed at evangelizing to unbelievers.

“I’ve had this idea for a year now, and I know it sounds cheesy, but…it’s all coming to fruition,” he said.

Putri also found inspiration for her startup early on, which motivated her to see it through. Although JAPA is currently in the prototype phase, its vision focuses on providing an accredited performing arts and high school for students in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Whatever happens, it’s still a win,” Putri said. “I remember I got this idea when I was 17…and the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, like ‘You gotta do this. Whether you win or you don’t win, you’re still gonna do this anyways.’”

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