So hands up if you remember reading this last week: “Of course, it would be even better to win the competition but really the prize is just being there and having the opportunity to present to a room of hundreds of people.” Well we only actually did go and win it!! I was going to build up to revealing this later on in the blog (because we had a crazy, eventful week leading up to the OSEF conference on Friday) but I just couldn’t contain my excitement… it was such a great day on Friday, and I’ll go into more detail later on, but first, let me recount the craziness of this last week…
Monday started off as a pretty standard day and actually we managed to load our Android users on to the app (hooray!) this means we have nearly 50 girls on the app, testing it currently. We’ve already been sent so much feedback, which shows how engaged they are.
On Tuesday, Jas and I decided to work together in the afternoon so we could start to nail the pitch down. Jas came up to my flat and we worked away, refining the pitch and giving it a really impactful opening. However, Jas was starting to feel unwell and by the end of the afternoon had a banging headache. I was heading off to track around 6:30ish so Jas then headed home to rest.
On Wednesday, we were due to meet again at our co-working space, like normal. I also had the pleasure of doing an Instagram “takeover” of the Business School’s account; basically a day in the life of an entrepreneur, post-MBA. It was also in conjunction with their “entrepreneurship week”, of which OSEF was the culminating event.
Doing the takeover was great exposure for us – I think they have about 68,000 followers, however it is a lot of work and a lot of organisation and admin. Like I said, we were meant to be going into the shared workspace, however poor Jas was feeling worse than Tuesday and because we had OSEF on Friday, we thought it best to do a WFH day so she could rest up as much as possible.
We spent a big chunk of time on Zoom rehearsing the pitch and getting it as close to 5 minutes as possible. We also had a few calls to do, so could practice our pitch to other people too.
The pitch was 5 minutes long and Jas was going to take the first half and I was going to take the second half. After Wednesday, the days and sequence of events become a bit of a blur….one minute Jas was starting to feel unwell, the next she was sending me photos of a positive lateral flow test!
How could this happen?! We had literally rehearsed this pitch and had it down so well as a duo but then bam! Thursday arrives and Jas is having to take a PCR test to confirm that she actually has Covid. We couldn’t believe this was happening; of all days of all weeks! Literally the day before the biggest pitch we’ve had to do.
We checked with the team organising whether Jas could be beamed in via Zoom to do her part of the pitch, but unfortunately it wasn’t going to be possible because they were already so tight for time.
We literally couldn’t believe it. But the only thing we could do was ensure I knew both parts inside out, so if the worst came back (a positive PCR test), I’d be ready to deliver the pitch on my own. It’s easier said than done trying to memorise a 5 minute presentation, 24 hours before you go to deliver it! And because they were so strict on timing, it had to be word perfect for it to come in on time.
I was really starting to feel the pressure on Thursday. I was desperate to do a good job and deliver it well because Jas is frankly, the Queen of presentations (ask anyone at our MBA graduation) so I just didn’t want to let her down, as I knew she would be watching from her bed, online.
So Thursday just became a day of rehearsal. Literally saying it over and over and over again. I even wrote it all out in a notebook and then took it with me wherever I went that day. I walked down the canal saying it out loud, I paced round my living room saying it out loud, I video called my parents and said it them and even when I was washing my hair, I said it aloud.
Jas had all the materials for our stand taxied over to me and our good friend, Amelia, made us some more cupcakes to take as well. I had plenty of stuff to take with me but couldn’t concentrate on packing it on Thursday night as I just wanted to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. By the time I went to bed, I was knackered and couldn’t really think straight. I hadn’t actually managed to nail the full pitch by Thursday night, so went to bed hoping that by the power of osmosis, diffusion and/or any other power, the speech embedded itself in my brain.
As a morning person, I figured I could just wake up early to pack, iron my dress and get ready in a calm and leisurely way. I needed to be in a taxi heading to the station for 7:30am and because I was so fixated on learning the speech on Thursday, had left quite a lot to do in the morning.
I remember waking up on Friday in a very leisurely fashion, which seemed odd. I have quite an annoying alarm ringtone but weirdly, I didn’t notice it on Friday.
THATS BECAUSE IT NEVER WENT OFF!!! I was so tired on Thursday night that I set my alarm for 0545 on Mondays only….for real. So my actual wake up of 07:05 did seem very leisurely indeed! But not when I realised what day and time it was and I had 25 minutes to get showered, changed, hair done, dress ironed, packed up and out the door with a full backpack, full shopping bag, two A1 boards and a box of 16 cupcakes.
How I managed it, to this today I’ll never know. But I did. And I made the train with time to spare as well!
I had an hour on the train to calm down, eat my breakfast and do a run through of the speech. In my mad panic of getting ready, Jas had confirmed the worst: positive PCR result overnight, so I knew then I was flying solo in the pitch.
And it was if the osmosis/diffusion powers had worked. I sat on the train and just delivered the pitch, in one go. No notes needed. I thought it might be a fluke, so did it again and amazingly, I knew it. I knew it all.
Arriving in Oxford, looking like a packhorse, I had about an hour to set up the stand and also practiced my speech to the other businesses who had a stand in the same part of the marquee as me. The morning was spent receiving visitors at the stand and introducing them to Luna. It all went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, the organisers were ushering the pitch competition entrants into the lecture theatre.
The lecture theatre wasn’t 100% full but it was very nearly, so I’d say there were close to 300 people in the room and god knows how many watching online. There were 8 companies pitching in the competition; everything ranging from a company starting a Swiss bank for Lebanese people to a company putting cameras on satellites to help predict freak weather events to a company repurposing drugs for different uses.
Luna was fourth in the running order, which was a great spot for us actually, as our impactful intro involved getting everyone to stand up, which no one was expecting.
Of course I was nervous before going on; you’d be an absolute psycho if you were weren’t! One of the presenters from an earlier team was visibly shaking on stage. She was doing a great job of carrying on but her leg was shaking so much, it looked like it could give way at any moment.
Then it was my turn and the 5 minute timer had already started before I’d even made it to the middle of the stage! I knew I was close to time so I just had to go, without much time for composing myself. And once I went, I just didn’t stop. I made my way through, slide by slide, had some audible gasps to some of our shocking stats and some friendly laughs to my mention of fake Hockneys in the metaverse.
Then it was done and I received an amazingly receptive round of applause. Then I could breathe. Phew. It was done. I thought it went well but then we started receiving emails from people in the audience saying how good the pitch was and how much they enjoyed it! One guy even said “the best pitch I’ve seen in half a decade. Hands down”. Wow.
The judging of the competition was left to be revealed at the end of the conference, and it was down to Jenny Tooth, CEO of the U.K. Business Angels Association, to announce the winners. And can I tell you, I genuinely can’t remember being this shocked at anything when she announced “Luna!” As the winners. I went down to collect the prize and I really couldn’t believe it, especially when as well, Jenny turned to me and said to the audience “and what an amazing female entrepreneur”. Literally jaw on the floor moment. Gobsmacked!
It’s been quite the week; Jas and I plan to celebrate this moment once she’s feeling all better and then we need to crack on with the next big milestone: actually raising some money.
Thanks OSEF for having us! Definitely one to remember.