Today was the Global Social Innovation Pitch Challenge. We have been talking about this event since the beginning of What’s Cooking. It was finally the day where we would share our idea with the world.
We woke up at 6:00 am western time, we’d figure we use our east coast time advantage to get some practice in and even listen to some pump up songs. The USD dorms were adequate for our stay. They were a bit old, but we slept comfortably and had a lot of space to practice our pitch. I pulled out a desk from the corner to use as a practice area. Joe sat on one end as I sat on the other. We meticulously went through our lines and motions, over and over again. Joe and I started to feel comfortable with our performance. After showering and getting ready, I turned on my speaker and bumped our go-to pump up song, “In My Place” from Coldplay. When listening to this song, one might ask how on earth it is a pump up song. It’s got a slow beat and a somewhat sad tune, however… Joe has a really weird sense of music and seems to discover wildly popular artists years after they’ve been known. Picking him up from the flight he asked us if we’ve ever heard of a band called Sublime, he’s been starting to listen to them… Anyway, this song has become a bit of a meme to us because we’d always beat box it’s slow yet potent beat because it’s incredibly catchy.
After our preparation we headed out the door to go to the event. We walked south on campus for ten minutes before reaching the University’s School of Peace and Commerce. It’s quite interesting actually, San Diego has this unique school that was created by the merging of the Peace Studies and the Business school. The center of the building is a large Rotunda, which is where the event was held. We walked up wearing our What’s Cooking shirts proudly. There was a phenomenal breakfast display with fresh fruit! After introducing ourselves to some members of the event, we made our way in the large Rotunda waiting for orientation. We were then given our time slots and rooms to pitch, we were last, pitching at 11:15. After a couple more practice runs Joe and I felt confident. For some reason, I hardly felt nervous for this event. Maybe it was because I had no expectations, but even the moments leading up to the pitch I felt calm. We walked into the room full of judges and gave it our all. From line to line we navigated our pitch deck. We expressed our emotions on the issue, gave our solution, and fully seized on the moment. While speaking I saw the judges smile at us and I could tell some of them really liked what we were saying. After ten minutes our pitch was over and all we could do was wait. As we were heading back to the Rotunda a judge pulled us over and told us he really liked what he just saw. He complimented us on our storytelling in the pitch and the general makeup of it. It was really an honor to get feedback from a judge like that. We exchanged contact info and had some great conversation later on in the day. As the first round came to a close, we headed to lunch. Here’s a picture of the lunch venue, it was gorgeous.
When the director of the event announced the teams that passed the first round, we sat in absolute silence. Only ten would make it out of the forty teams there. As each team was read in correspondence to it’s room, we waited for room B’s teams to be announced. Only two teams per room were to make it to the final round. As our room was read, the team from Mexico with their Biodigester had passed, and… the team from… Seattle with their non-profit internship network had passed. Joe and I were disappointed, yet at the same time we accepted the results. The other teams had really innovative ideas and had been working on them for years. We also knew we gave it our all so there was nothing to be regretful about.
In the next couple hours, the finalist teams presented and we got to hear some incredible ideas. My personal favorites were the Mexican Biogester team, they had created a machine for ordinary kitchens that takes the natural gas out of food waste, and the Ghana team who found a way to convert human POOP into CHARCOAL. Really crazy and awesome ideas from both teams. Over the course of the event we met people, shared ideas, and shared stories. What more can we ask for, this was truly a wonderful experience for us. Being flown to San Diego to participate in a challenge like this, Joe and I were humbled to be there. Congrats on all the winners and we hope to be back next year!