The Art And Science Of Selling Yourself

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January 31, 2022

Link: The Art And Science Of Selling Yourself

Jimmy Toussaint had done everything wrong that evening. No PowerPoint presentation, no visual aids, and no proof of concept; he didn’t carry any of that. It was his non-conformance that made him distinctly stand out from the crowd that evening. Yet, in the end, he was declared the winner.

The moment the name of the winning idea was announced, the auditorium resonated with gasps. Followed by a few seconds of lull. Followed by applause. Not the cheering kind. But that kind that is a courtesy. It became clear that the audience did not expect Jimmy Toussaint to win. As they packed up their belongings and left the auditorium, their faces carried a similar expression: confusion. Their collective conscious echoed loudly with one question: “Why him?”

The “Fast Pitch” competition is Columbia University’s version of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” a popular reality show where aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of potential investors in an effort to raise capital for their business ventures. In this annual competition, contestants got 60 seconds to pitch their ideas to a panel comprising successful alumni, venture capitalists and established entrepreneurs. They got another 60 seconds to answer questions from the panel. The contestants were assessed based on viability of their business (30 points), defensibility of their business (20 points), clarity of the venture’s value proposition (30 points) and stage presence and salesmanship (20 points).


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