It is 2 p.m., on Thursday, November 8, 2018, and Olin Hall at Babson College is humming with excitement. Forty-eight businesses are preparing to give their three-minute business pitch during the next two hours.
At any given moment in one of four rooms, entrepreneurs from food/beverage, social impact, technology, and consumer products ventures will deliver their pitch. Today’s the day for Rocket Pitch, an electrifying annual event organized by The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College.
Each business has three minutes and three slides to pitch. The entrepreneur then receives five minutes of feedback from the audience of peers, mentors, and community members. When that’s done, there’s two minutes of transition time—a chance to shuffle from room to room and for the next entrepreneur to set up. Then the cycle begins again.
It’s rapid, exciting, and one of Babson’s signature events. Here is a glimpse of what the day looked like.
In the food/beverage room, Uncontained prepares to pitch.
Daniel Brassloff ’20 and Rumeer Keshwani ’20, co-founders of Uncontained, deliver a well-polished pitch for their product, MuggedCake. Their product is a gluten-free and nut-free instant cake you can make in a mug. Launched in May 2018, it’s now sold at brick and mortar stores in the Boston area. They have sold more than 500 units in the last 60 days.
Some of the pitch feedback from the audience is around clarity about what the product is and how it works. All and all, well received.
Cue: run to next room.
Next up, the social innovation room with AGChain.
Yosuke Takishima MBA’19, founder of AGChain, pitches. His business connects farmers and retailers in India by low-cost cold supply chain, solving the poverty of farmers, high disposal rate, and low quality of foods. He tells the story of how he was inspired to create this business from his experience working in India for four years.
The idea was born in April 2016; he, then, came to get his Babson MBA and developed the idea in his New Venture Creation class. He plans to launch in May 2019 and in five years have $2 million in sales.
Feedback from the audience includes excitement around the idea but the need for more clarity as he presents. The audience has mixed feelings about the slides; some like the dense copy design and others find it distracting.
Cue: more running.
On to the most packed room of the day, technology, with daypop.
Our pitcher is Jonathan Kong MBA’17, the founder. Daypop is an event-recommendation platform aimed at Boston students new to the community. It uses machine learning and community curation to aggregate all the events happening in a geographic area, including campus events.
Kong leads his pitch with a personal story about being new to Boston. He then goes on to describe the market and the problem that his business is solving. His web app already has 400 signups in beta. He describes it as Reddit meets Netflix on Tinder, but instead of dates, you get well-curated events. Unfortunately, he runs out of time and is unable to finish his pitch.
Lots of feedback because of the full audience, mostly around understanding the market opportunity and tightening up the pitch so it will fit in the three minutes. Overall very positive!
Cue: you know the drill, more running.
Now we’re in the consumer products room with Kulture Kart.
The pitch opens with founder Amrutha Killada MBA’19 asking, “Do you like what I’m wearing?” Killada is wearing her product, clothing from Kulture Kart, a marketplace where consumers can buy custom clothing with LGBTQ+ folks created by LGBTQ+ artists and creators.
Traditional apparel brands do not create clothes for the LGBTQ community. Kulture Kart gets all fabrics from India and manufactures the clothing there.
The main feedback is the want to understand the pricing model better.
Cue: final run of the day!
Finally, back to the technology room for pitch veterans Lula.
Matthew Vega-Sanz ’19, one-half of the twin brother founders of Lula, pitches in his Lula-branded sweatshirt. Lula is a car sharing app that allows college students to rent cars from one another, and is found on more than 400 college campuses in all 50 states. In this pitch, Vega-Sanz lets on that Lula is looking to do so much more.
Lula closed its first round of funding this year and has a very promising future.
Vega-Sanz announces that Lula is looking to go beyond cars to scooter and bike sharing. Lula wants to be the iPod of the mobility space. Why own a car when you own a phone that has Lula?
There is some feedback that the founders may have scope creep; is their vision too big? It will be exciting to see what the future holds for this growing venture.
Final cue: This is just the beginning for many of these promising entrepreneurs. They may go on to build the businesses they pitched at Rocket Pitch or build new ventures. Either way, we can say we saw them first right on Babson’s campus.
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