CS Lewis – Writer, novelist, and one of the most influential thinkers of his time once said, “Failures are the finger post on the path to achievement.” Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like Al that sounds crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. So, I thought I would share the reason why this is so influential for me. Recently, my business partner, Ethan David, and I were able to participate in the National Texas Christian University – Values and Ventures business competition. Over the past few months, we went through the first two rounds of the competition and were then told that we were invited to compete in one of the 42 teams to advance to the final round and at the event held at the TCU campus in Fort Worth. , Texas. As you can tell by my introductory quote, we did not give space, but I would like to focus on the real meaning of CS Lewis’s statement. Although we did not win money, this experience was most beneficial for Resense and our future success.
To begin the event, on Thursday night, we had a “meet and greet” meeting with the other teams and judges. This event was amazing. In the beginning, it stopped guarding us. Ethan and I didn’t really prepare a soft pitch that we were going to give to each of these teams casually. So, when we went to the venue of the event and we met our first team, it started a bit shaky. We knew our things, and quickly came up with a rhythm and what we had to say, but we realized the importance of these pitches. We were meeting these people for the first time and in a few minutes we need to be able to clearly explain what our Response is, what we do and understand and appreciate their concept. It was a lot in a few minutes but it was extremely fruitful. Perhaps by giving 50-60 of these soft pitches, we soon learned new, better ways to explain specific aspects of our companies that allow for quicker and broader understanding of different concepts, but we also learned our flow as business partners and how 10-minute minutes for judges. The pitch was going to go the next day. The third and perhaps most beneficial result from this meeting and greeting was being able to meet with the judges. All of these C-level employees, business owners and working professionals who were there to guide and advise these teams. Each of our conversations with these judges was really impressive but also encouraging for Ethan and me. They recommended us but mainly encouraged our ideas and expressed interest in the box and how it could affect their lives.
The next morning was Pitch Day. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I probably gave Ethan the presentation 50 times well that morning so we knew it back and forth and was ready to pitch in front of our panel of judges. To set the scene a bit, a total of 42 teams pitched. These 42 teams are divided into 6 “flights” and to reach the finals, you must be first or second on your flight. So, we were the last team to pitch on our flight. I hated expectation but as it got closer I felt it.
I shouldn’t have worried. When it came time to pitch, despite the technical difficulties, we nailed. I don’t really know how to make it better. It was the best run-through we’ve ever had and it was the best feeling of all time. When it came time to answer questions, the judges were out of encouragement but asked us some good questions that we didn’t consider and that inspired us to pivot and make some changes in the future. I can honestly say that I was joking. I like to hear constructive criticism because it allows us to see the holes in our company and where we can improve … all free advice from the most successful people in their industry.
We took a lot from the Q&A session and were relieved that part of the pitch was over. That night we learned that we could not advance to the next round. We were disappointed, but to be honest, we knew we had done our best and so we were very good with it. This gave us a chance to relax and enjoy the rest of the competition. At this point, I was sick and almost lost my voice, so I was grateful for the opportunity to speak. Ethan and I focused on networking as much as possible. We met as many people as possible and the next day we were able to have a 1 × 1 talk with the main speaker of the event, Barb Stegeman. If you don’t know who he is, look at one. He is the founder and CEO of Sephora’s best-selling brand 7 Virtues and probably one of the most successful social entrepreneurs I’ve ever met. Her heart and ambition were inspiring but for Ethan and me it was really wonderful to hear her enthusiasm with Resonance. He reminded us that failure is necessary. She was rejected from Sephora 4 times before they called her and she encouraged us to compete and share about our company. We talked to her, listened to her lectures and watched her documentaries, which, however, gave us the opportunity as a company to create value and impact with our products. We can give back in so many different ways and we never really thought about it before. He has encouraged us to pursue redemptive opportunities for our products and we are. He was an example of a very inspiring person who encouraged us on the weekends.
So, to close it, I want to go back to the quote I started with. “Finger post on the way to achieving failures.” Ethan and I did not make it to the finals. However, this leads us to a trajectory that we would never have considered even if we had not joined the event. We’ve made a lot of resources, connections and new friends that are going to be a big part of Resense’s future and we’re extremely grateful for that. We realized that it was an honor to be there. TCU Values and Ventures was named one of the top graduate business competitions in the world and it was said that we took it to the final round is an achievement of our book. This is not the end of the competition circuit for Resense. We are very grateful and excited to be in the top 25 of another national business competition called E-Fest in Minneapolis. We are accepting what we have learned from TCU and are ready to give us everything at E-Fest at the end of the month! Just remember, failure is necessary and look for every opportunity to get advice, learn things and meet new people whenever you can. You never know who might give you that little push that will change your course forever.