What you do each day adds up to a later success. This was visually evident from the way I cam to know about the workshop and more evident in the kind of people I got associated with. The business mantra of this century is “It is what you know and who you know” that matters.
Call it karma or not. I had this wonderful opportunity to attend the Project Management workshop based on PMI‘s PMBOK by Dr Olewnik during the winter break; after the Fall semester. This led to an opportunity to work on an Intramural project with Curbell Medical Products Inc. This project ended by end of spring semester, which naturally led to a kind of void especially since the summer is around the weekend. Pre seed workshop was pointed out by the Professor and then I was getting ready for another experience.
The idea of the workshop is that a team of IP expert, business coach, professor, idea champion, industry expert and student gather to work together for a week to help the idea champion grow his idea from “idea” to something more tangible. The workshop began with a kick off event, where the concept and the team were introduced with food. Later,the workshop took me through a series of break out sessions interlaced with lessons, networking and food. I could be part of a team where I worked with my professor and alumni on an idea that was based and close to what I had learned in Electrical Engineering, University at Buffalo. The work of the workshop involved two days separated by a week. The first day was awesome due to the novelty of the way of presentation and the rising feeling of assisting in something big that is going to happen by working with the idea champion. This concept mostly involved assisting the idea champion to convert his patent into a product and help enhance the vision by putting those in words and presentation with great inputs from the team, this would finally be presented in front of an audience, who also want to learn from the presented idea and give suggestions along with the judges who are also serving or past judges of 43 north; the biggest startup competition on the planet. Since in this workshop no money is involved; that is there is no cash prizes, but exchange of priceless information, tips and suggestions to get there.
At the kick off event, at the Kleinhans Hall Buffalo, my mind was blown because the coach of our team is also a judge at 43 north. That was just the beginning. And before the gravity of the event dawned on me, it was the real dawn to get up and get to work, Day 1 followed.
On Day 1 we were taught on how entrepreneurs, inventors and businessmen converge into a single person who has put his efforts into the idea to startup. More sessions followed teaching me basics of how the business is build around the idea and how the idea can be made into a business. The sessions with the team was awesome, getting to know how the idea was generated, the IP perspective, how everyone got together in the team, their work-academic-life and expertise , bit by bit, at work, as we also byte, for there was lot of food besides the work. The day ended with some homework for me and the team to work for the week till we met for Day 2 the next week. And as I headed back home thinking about VCs and angel investors, I accidentally captured an angel made of cloud.
Day 2 was more focused on putting values to revenue potential based on target market and visualizing the start up office, putting numbers in place , practicing the pitch to perfection. The idea Champion was awesome in gelling together with the team, encouraging positive communications and learning on the way. Then the time arrived after noon. We were geared up with the presentations ready and headed toward the Hauptman Woodward Institute (HWI), home to the Hauptman’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry. I could see the Nobel Prize medal for real, first time in my life.
And the team, like other teams also proceeded to the hall of presentation. HWI building is very welcoming, it is not the regular brick building, some architect has really spent his passion on it. It provides a motivating and peaceful ambience which was very important , I believe, for the idea champion. Our champion was all set for the presentation that goes first. Yes we were first. The judges and other teams were very positive in their responses and suggestion. In that, the judges asked very good questions, questions that an investor wanted answer for. A demo for it was shown in the workshop, a cartoon of a typical Silicon Valley Pitch if the genius Nikola Tesla was doing it.
This video is hilarious at the same time and eye opener for an inventor or idea champion. Because and engineer or scientist is not taught how to see the business side of ideas and designs and often this single thing makes or breaks the confidence for a startup pitch. Thanks to the pre-seed workshop we had our champion prepared for most of the questions. The audience was also very patient in providing further suggestions.
And then we got to hear the ideas of other teams and personally I learned a lot from this session. Since, this was the culmination of months of effort for the idea champion and a week’s effort for the team members , getting to know different presentation styles and varied ideas unlocked more levels of understanding. The questions from judges revealed the ways in which a business mind would work. Money is one thing, building a business for the same is like bringing up something to life. It is more than money. But money can do it. How an investor thinks in this manner is different from the regular engineering mind. It was very interesting to listen to the questions. A great learning experience.
The awesomeness of the pre-seed workshop is that it is free. Free stuffs are such that you cannot expect what comes as free. Here, the most celebrated free stuff, knowledge based on experience, is distributed for common benefit. Which is overwhelming and fantabulous.
The day ended with networking event where I got to meet other team members and indulge in some great conversations with great food.
Thanks to the organizers were brilliant and excellent in all the parts of the event, from emails to giving information to name tags, presentations, arranging conference rooms for the team, guidance , suggestions and the positive energy and food. Many thanks to the organizers, team members, sponsors and everyone for making this happen.
More Photos in FB, open for my friends.