Students Refine The Art Of Pitching
Fifty-one students from across the Dartmouth community came together in late September to brainstorm entrepreneurial endeavors, dig into customer experiences and refine their pitches as part of the 3 Day Startup Dartmouth.
The conference, sponsored by The Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, took place Friday though Sunday, Sept. 27-29. The participants included thirty-three undergrads, 16 Tuck students, and two PhD students from the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.
The weekend was designed to provide intensive hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and innovation. Participants worked under the mentorship of eleven experienced entrepreneurs from The Magnuson Center and Dartmouth community. At the end of the week, participants presented their pitches to a panelist of four expert entrepreneurs.
Austin Pittman (Tuck ’21), came to the 3 Day Startup to further his idea for Moov, a platform designed to making moving less miserable.
“Moving is the third most stressful event in a person’s life, behind divorce and a death in the family,” Pittman explained. “We hope to use a technology platform to solve key pain points for both moving companies and consumers, making the process a little easier and a lot cheaper.
Pittman and his co-founder, Mark Noble (Tuck ’21), are fairly early in the entrepreneurial process, conducting research into the viability of their idea.
“We’re in the discovery phase, quantifying the market, pain points, and determining whether to go all-in,” Pittman explained.
At the 3 Day, Pittman and Noble learned more about how to target their growth.
“The most critical takeaway was to really hone in on a ‘beachhead’ market: a distinctive place in the market where pain is so intense that you have a real chance to break in, and scale from there,” Pittman explained.
Mentors at the conference reminded Pittman and Noble about the importance of working backward from the customer pain points, in order to identify the places where Moov could have the most impact.
Moov was one of two ideas from the 3 Day Startup selected to participate in the Magnuson Center Campus Ventures Program, which pairs student ventures with student volunteers. The volunteers help the founders work toward their goals over five to six weeks.
“We’re working with a team of exceptional undergraduates to crystalize who our target customer is and how the product will address their needs,” Noble explained.
The other endeavor selected to participate in the Campus Ventures Program was BioMe. The vision of BioMe is to create personalized probiotics, based on information gathered from a stool sample collected in home.
The idea is being spearheaded by Rebecca Valls, a PhD Student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, and Cole Douglass (’20), a mechanical engineering student.
Although BioMe is in the very early stages of implementation, Valls and Douglass said that the conference was important for helping them understand how to move forward.
“As an engineer, I've developed a number of ideas in the context of school, but I'm looking to go past developing a project in an academic sense and into the real world,” Douglass explained. “With the experiences I gained at 3DS, I'm now better equipped to take these projects into the real-world.”
He found the pitch workshops particularly beneficial, especially as BioMe was preparing to pitch their idea to the DALI Lab.
“My biggest takeaway was how to make a proper pitch,” Douglass said. “The subtleties of a good pitch cannot be understated.”
Vall, who is mostly focused on the science behind BioMe, found it helpful to understand how the different players in entrepreneurial community think and prioritize.
“That what scientists versus marketing and venture capitalists worry about when developing a product is very different,” she said. “However, to be successful I believe it’s important for me to learn how to communicate with both styles of thinking.”
All of the students involved with the conference said that it helped them better understand the entrepreneurial community at Dartmouth, and the supports that The Magnuson Center can offer as they move forward with their endeavors.
“It connected me with an awesome group of people and opened my eyes to the many resources Dartmouth has to offer when it comes to entrepreneurial endeavors,” Vall said.
Pittman said that he discovered a whole new level of supports available to entrepreneurs from The Magnuson Center.
“It opened my eyes to the resources and human capital available at Dartmouth. I was shocked and awed by the drive, smarts, and creativity of the undergraduates that we worked with,” he said. “I was impressed by The Magnuson Center and the buzz around it.”