In the fifth part of our Diary of a Student Entrepreneur 2021 series, our young founders talk about making the perfect pitch.

Every summer LaunchBox, Trinity’s student accelerator, offers 10 start-ups €10,000 in equity-free funding and a place on the three-month programme. Follow how these start-ups get on here.

LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures.

Evan Mcgloughlin, co-founder of Diglot

Young man with dark hair wearing white shirt.

“Pitch day is your opportunity to rise to the pressure and tell your story in the most passionate and irrefutable manner you possibly can. It is the ultimate challenge for a competitive entrepreneur, a challenge we all relish the opportunity of destroying”

As a competitive person by nature, I love pitching. Pitching feels like the ultimate competition, it feels like game day. A culmination of all the blood, sweat and tears you put in when nobody’s watching. Knowing your numbers reflexively after repeating them to yourself 100 times feels analogous to practicing a golf swing or a tennis stroke. It becomes routine.

Pitch day is your opportunity to rise to the pressure and tell your story in the most passionate and irrefutable manner you possibly can. It is the ultimate challenge for a competitive entrepreneur, a challenge we all relish the opportunity of destroying.

This is how I’ve been conceptualising Demo Day, a day that is fast approaching. Diglot has achieved an immense amount since starting LaunchBox. We took a step back on publishing books to take a very critical view of the systems we were using. After a long methodical and critical breakdown of every step in the publication process, we have created a new system that is a 10x improvement on the last. This is an immense gain to the Diglot engine and scaling strategy as it facilitates the production of very high-quality books every single week. Demo Day will be our opportunity to show the world our plan for changing the way languages are learned forever.

A challenge we are currently facing with our new range of quality books is how do we tell people about them? Strong brand marketing is incredibly difficult and something I have always struggled with. This is something we have been working on with professional storyteller and one of our mentors, Eugene Theodore, CEO of sagasquared. Eugene specialises in telling brand stories and has been helping us figure out how we want to tell the Diglot story. I cannot wait to tell the Diglot story on Demo Day.

Diarmuid McGonagle, co-founder of Fonz Music

Young man wearing bandana.

“I love being out of my comfort zone; public speaking accomplishes that”

Probably one of my stranger qualities: I adore speaking in front of crowds. I’m happy to be a lector at Sunday Mass. I’m fearless in asking a dumb question during a packed lecture. I even spoke off the cuff before a 500-person school in Kolkata, India. I love being out of my comfort zone; public speaking accomplishes that.

That’s why I’ve been looking forward to pitching, whether in front of a full audience or a small panel. However, with everything online, I’m much less confident in my abilities. Sitting down, speaking into my computer screen with no visual feedback from my audience is much more daunting to me than speaking in front of hundreds. Maybe entrepreneurs are “different”.

With LaunchBox Demo Day approaching, I’m conscious of the most effective way to present my message. Luckily, LaunchBox is providing us with resources to perfect our messaging. We’ve had speakers such as David Scanlon explain what he looks for in a pitch & the programme is forcing us to pitch weekly in preparation for the big day.

One of the largest challenges Fonz Music has faced is building the proper team. In the early days, we hired friends to join us on this journey. However, we’ve quickly come to realise that this is not the best strategy, especially when friendships interfere with what’s best for business. One of the best talks thus far from LaunchBox has come from Ben Butler, head of Talent at Evervault. He passed on wisdom on how to vet, hire and create a company culture that represents your company’s values. Fonz Music is adamant on following his advice.

Hopefully I’ll get the privilege to speak publicly before a large Fonz Music team in the near future.

Heather Bruton, co-founder of UniPeer

Young woman in coffee shop.

“A pitch deck should be ever-evolving, which means it will never be perfect”

Now that we are two-thirds of the way through the LaunchBox programme, I have been reflecting on the progress I‘ve made this summer. It has been an incredible experience to transform UniPeer from just an idea in my head into an actual, tangible start-up, supported by consistent customer research.

We are getting close to launching a beta version of the UniPeer platform, which is really exciting. I have a pretty good idea of how to initially get users on the platform, but user retention is a whole other story. In the run-up to launching, this is something I will be thinking a lot about as well as seeking advice on.

My other key focus at the moment is refining our pitch for the LaunchBox Demo Day. Due to continuing Covid-19 restrictions, our pitch will be pre-recorded. I was delighted to hear this because this new format has given us the opportunity to really get creative with our pitch. Working in this creative space has sparked lots of new ideas on how to present the mission and vision of UniPeer to a wide audience in an effective and engaging manner.

The challenge now is to keep polishing our pitch to make it the best it can be, which means I have to practice pitching to as many people as possible. Luckily, the UniPeer team has several listening ears who are willing to provide feedback on our pitch. In particular our mentors, Aimée-Louise Carton, co-founder of KeepAppy, and Paul Barlow, CCO of MediaLocate, have been a huge help in terms of garnering different perspectives. A pitch deck should be ever-evolving, which means it will never be perfect, but I hope that by Demo Day at the end of August our pitch will effectively reflect who we are and the progress we have made to date.

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