Student - April 19, 2007

Take your idea into the lift

Step into the lift together, introduce yourself, explain your idea and say what you expect from the other. And all in thirty seconds: that is the essence of an elevator pitch. Wednesday 11 April, the Student Entrepreneurs Centre (StOC) organised a workshop to learn how to sell yourself or your idea.

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Spark someone’s attention by mentioning something you have in common, advises Gitte Schober, a project leader at the Wageningen Business Generator, during the introduction. ‘And make clear why your idea is interesting for the other person.’ But the best way to learn how to do a pitch is by practising. So Schober and Joep Koene, of Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij Oost Nederland, take the twenty or so students one by one in the lift up to the seventh floor and back.

After a tense minute Schober hands Margot Baas her business card. Her idea for reminding students who are graduating that they can also go into business was well received. Your sales pitch is good if you have an appointment and a business card by the time you leave the lift.

Some participants are reluctant to talk about their idea, afraid of the competition. Zumi Nguyen, a Vietnamese research fellow at Microbiology, is not so reticent. ‘I want to start a business in Vietnam selling micro-organisms for wastewater treatment.’ She is preparing her entry for the Business Challenge at the beginning of May, a competition in which students formulate a business plan from an entrepreneurial idea.

By the end of the session Schober had heard another three ideas that were worth following up. She ends with the general comment that it is good to be aware of your non-verbal communication. Koene stresses that enthusiasm gives energy. ‘Nobody wants to do business with someone who’s as dull as ditchwater.’

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