by Jay Fajardo
Yesterday, Launchgarage had the pleasure to host The One School for their business pitch day, the culminating event of Richard "D-Cal" Dacalos' Creativity in Problem Solving and Business Mentorship class.
When D-Cal and I discussed having it here at Launchgarage, I suggested organising a panel from the startup and social impact community to provide feedback and critique for the benefit of the students. Aside from myself, we were fortunate to have on the panel:
Some of us were used to sitting on startup pitch panels, and knowing that the pitches were part of an academic program where the students only had 13 weeks from ideation to business model/prototype, we had to make sure to manage our expectations and provide feedback and criticism with that in mind.
We were happy to see though that many of the students had already gone through product development and came with prototypes. Some were even actual businesses, going through product validation, and operating and receiving revenue.
Everyone is a genius at something. - The One School
There were 10 students that pitched that day and the diversity of ideas truly reflected one of the tenets espoused by The One School where "Everyone is a genius at something." The range of pitches included clothing, music, ecological impact, sport & fitness, gaming, and the skater and maker culture.
Here are some of those that stood out for me.
Klein Delisen of COOL CULTURE CLOTHING
Klein has always worried about being able to fit in at various social settings. His own way of dealing with this common experience among the youth is to look cool through well styled clothes. Klein is designing contemporary apparel style inspired from various indigenous cultures from around the world. Klein's vision is to break down racist thinking and to perpetuate the beauty and richness of traditional designs that are innate to their cultures.
Mito Fabie of CURTISSMITH
He calls himself and Artrepreneur. He has experienced failure in varying degrees throughout his young life but has never been afraid to always move forward. After being exposed to the philosophies driving the spirit of social enterprise, Mito has used the growth of the personal brand and equity he has built from his talent as a rap artist to inspire others to break the mold and not be fearful to walk on the edge of the status quo. He wants encourage more people to tap into their personal passions and empower them with the drive and motivation to take those impactful and purposeful steps towards changing the world.
RD Lim of CASHEW MILK CO.
RD switched to a vegan lifestyle a little over a year ago. Since then, she has been very passionate about the animal free diet and its positive impact on the environment. Unfortunately for many vegans, this meant giving up some of her pre-vegan favorites that she also had a strong emotional connection to growing up. Milk, particularly Chocolate Milk. This steered her towards learning how to make milk from cashew, and she has made a product that has successfully been brought to market. Her next step is to find vegan friendly ways to extend product shelf life so that she can expand her market reach domestically and even globally.
Shaun Narca of PH SKATE CO.
Shaun is a skater, and is also a maker. He has a personal desire to see this culture grow and thrive in the Philippines and believes that a missing component to achieve that is locally manufactured boards. Shaun has been able to tap into his personal passion for skate, researching methods of board manufacture, and has set out to build locally built boards, ensure they are at par with their international counterparts, and put the Philippines on the skate map of the world.
Julie Terrei of FORZA+
Julie, being a big girl, has always pined for stylish and well made plus size sport apparel. She believes that properly cut and manufactured clothing is key to making one look good, feel good, and train good. Unfortunately, plus sized sport gear isn't readily available locally. Julie set her sights on producing apparel that meets the demands of athletes and make them available to others like her.
What struck me as I listened to each pitch was that they all started with a personal story. I always advise startup founders that a good pitch starts with a story. It being a personal one is a big plus, revealing a personal connection with the venture, and helps establish an emotional grab with the audience. All the students' pitches had both qualities.
I only found out why at the end, after they had all packed up and were ready to leave the hub, and I was in a post-event discussion with D-Cal.
Everyone is always going through a personal struggle in one form or another. It can be from family, relationships, money, time, lifestyle, etc. This often manifests through or affects how one behaves or succeeds in school, work, and social relationships. It also affects a persons ability to build confidence and communicate well.
D-Cal's methods at SPIN, which he is now introducing at The One School, teaches his students to recognise these underlying issues for what they are, apply a healthy dose of what they are passionate about, and spin it into a positive --in this case, a business.
Similarly, my personal thoughts on ideation and venture motivation is founded on personal pain points. I like to tell startups I mentor how a product that addresses a personal pain is a very powerful one. It addresses a real problem which you have an emotional connection with. Chances are, there's a market out there full of people with the same problem as yours. The trick is to scale the solution, reach that market, and if the product is executed right, people will pay for it.
The students had a blast. According to D-Cal, the change of scenery did the students well. Taking them out of the school and exposing their ideas in the 'real world' to 'real people', allowed the students to truly express themselves in ways they couldn't do in a class room setting.
Another thing that D-Cal introduced to the students was to allow them to organise the entire event by themselves. From start to finish, the students took care of coordinating with Launchgarage, producing the materials, bringing the necessary equipment, and arranging for the refreshments.
Pitch In was a wonderful inaugural event for Launchgarage to have at the space. The students were able to meet garageheads already running their startups, and the startup founders had a good look at the future of philippine innovation. We're looking forward to more of these events that connect the grass roots to the startup ecosystem, and encourage would be founders to create truly purposeful and impactful innovation.
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