It was setup by a few local sponsors doing something good for the community. On Meetup, it says 265 people will be there. 20 in the waiting list. They’ll put it on the internet, live stream the video coast to coast to coast. We’ll all be millionaires. With one hitch: you gotta pitch.
This is my first pitch fest. I don’t know what to expect, but being somewhat skeptical, I expect a lot of crazies. I’ve blown in after work, this whole thing still a slippery pastime. My suit on, I feel somehow appropriate. The question of the night, from everyone, to everyone: “Are you here to pitch?”
“Nah,” I say. “It’s my first time. I’m just here to watch.”
I tuck myself in a corner, try to be inconspicuous. What are these guys like? What makes them tick? Are they hypo-manic, or too stupid to know better? Are they geniuses yet to be discovered? What’s an idea worth? And could I do any better?
The guys next to me do a business handshake, missionary style–no fancy use of palms and thumbs and elbows. The night is launched.
I sink lower in my seat, peck away at my mobile, pretend not to notice. But secretly, I am taking it all in with wonder. Look at the cameras! Who’s that guy typing a command line? That team brought an entourage! Is that beer free, or are they paying for it? How many people here are looking for something to invest in?
The guy in front of me shifts in his seat; he turns around and asks: “Are you here to pitch?”
“Nah, it’s my first time.”
He smiles, “Me too.” We talk. He’s in security; I’m in digital consulting. He pitches me his idea; I pitch him mine. We’re closet cases, it’s obvious.
He seems nice enough, and I wish him well; I get his business card and ask if he’s on LinkedIn.
The gong sounds, as if a game show.
“Here are the rules,” she says. 60 seconds, no throwing elbows.Tell us:
The gauntlet is down, and they they line up. There is a stack of numbered paper at the whiteboard. The moderator is calling names of those who pre-registered. Everyone who goes up takes a number, and that’s how we crowdsource the judging. For every three names she calls, two are absent. The numbers look thin. But lo and behold, this is a can-do crowd.
“There’s over $900 in prizes. Even if you haven’t signed up to pitch, come on up! What do you have to lose?”
Most are technology. ->
It’s like Yelp, but without the B.S. lying jerks.
It’s an eBay clearing house for all things medieval, and used.
It’s a political re-enactment software suite for your latent desires to be president,
but I just need a developer to build it!
This one’s gonna bring the house down:
it’s dating app for monkeys, and you
choose whether they eat grapes or cucumbers!!!
I’m stirring inside. It’s been two weeks since I started formulating my plan to launch something. I don’t know what yet, but I’m going to launch something. So I feel the burn, let it simmer.
The next pitch is from a guy who invented a virtual horse. It will carry your laundry to the river and wash it, if you can give him $500,000 to build the prototype.
And the next pitch, and the next pitch, and the next pitch. And the guy at the front says:
“Remember, there’s over $900 in prizes. Give us a show! Tell us about your modernized, electronized, indestructible, cubic zirconium shrimp deveiner.”
The room is wired. With 60 second pitches, there’s no time to get bored. There’s no time to even understand half of what’s being said. Some of the ideas are convoluted; most of the pitchers are not yet refined. But they’re all trying hard, and the room is on fire. It seems like an easy game to play, and yet, how? You need an idea. You need an understanding. You need to sell something, and loud, and fast, and to the point.
But I’m not here for the pitch. It’s my first time. I’m here to watch, and to learn. But my leg is jiggling. My arms can’t stop reaching nervously for my phone, pulling it from my pocket, putting it back again. I notice my ideas won’t shut up. I’ve got ideas from last month, ideas from last year. Ideas from my childhood are bubbling up. I’m feeling the burn. The simmer is on. The lid is ajar. I gotta let loose.
My heart is beating like a rainstorm. It’s time to make the move. I tap the security guy on the shoulder: “I’m gonna pitch.”
He did too.