Future of Work Pitch Night

Our Fellows presented their ventures

Go to Facebook

“I was so moved I had to catch my breath!” – Phillip Tettenborn, Venture Lab Director

We’ve seen many pensive faces over the past 10 weeks: Fellows slouched over laptops, making skype calls, scribbling on flipcharts, concentrating hard. Often, we’d hear loud, heartfelt laughter. On just as many occasions, we were able to observe the beautiful spirit of collaboration among people who share a passion: People who only weeks before had never met, coming together from all over the world to launch social impact businesses.

And thus it was an appropriately emotional evening on Wednesday the 20th, when our Fellows gathered in our DOers space to bring their ideas out into the light. At Pitch Night, they got the chance to present their ideas to investors, supporters and partners—to rally up support or even funding for their venture through our pitch rating questionnaires that were handed to each listener before.

But what was perhaps more impressive even than the ideas they’d nurtured was the spirit of the event–the room was vibrant with enthusiasm and mutual support, so much so that it left Venture Lab Director Phillip Tettenborn uncharacteristically speechless….

What was the most memorable thing to you about this Pitch Night, Phillip?

You know, each time a Fellow was through with their pitch, I was so happy and proud. I was so into it and so moved by it that I actually had to take a moment, catch my breath, so that I could do the next announcement–and you know that I’m rarely ever at a loss for words!

That is true! But tell me, why is Pitch Night such a central part of the program?

It’s the transition between the DO School bubble and the real world out there. Of course, the Fellows get a lot of feedback along the way, but Pitch Night is when they present their ideas to people from the outside, right before they leave and actually put their idea to the test at home.

Pitch Night marks the culmination of the Venture Lab and the Incubation Phase. How do ideas typically develop over the course of the previous 10 weeks?

Almost none of them pitched the idea that they originally applied with! Naturally, all ideas evolve–and that’s what we’re aiming for. You have to respond to feedback, you think about different elements, and reshape your idea accordingly. When the Fellows first come to the DO School, the concepts are often too complex. But then again, ideas never stop evolving. The Fellows will notice this when they get home.

This Pitch Night was incredibly moving to all. How does that sort of magic happen?

The magic happens entirely in our Fellows’ heads. That’s the beauty of it, but also the danger. They have so much information, and they get more and more. They keep getting feedback, they keep adjusting their idea, and all the while they have to keep making sense out of all this information. But it’s really about knowing what YOU are passionate about, and how YOU can do that in the most effective way. Even if your idea evolves, you need to retain attachment to it. You need ownership. And I think our Fellows were very good at that–you could tell through their pitches that they are 100% behind their ideas.

Listeners get to vote for their favourite pitch. This time we had two winners, Wilma and Neha…

That’s right. And it’s very interesting that both of them won, because they’re very different people. Wilma is looking to found an educational hub in Zimbabwe, and she’s outgoing, straightforward and an amazing public speaker. Neha created a technological solution for waste management in India. She’s more of an introvert and very reflective–but nonetheless, she won people over! It is wonderful to see such different people succeed through passion, commitment, and following their unique talent.

Phillip is the DO School’s Venture Lab Director and heads up our Entrepreneurship for Good and Innovation Challenge programs. Before joining the DO School, Phillip consulted young ventures as well as big organizations in Technology Transfer and in Innovation Management. Read more.