I have always been an entrepreneur. Even in my earliest years, I looked
for ways to solve problems and make money doing it. I created puppet
theaters at the age of nine and tutored kids older than myself at the age
For all the ideas I implemented, there have always been a dozen more I
thought about that others also later thought about -- and made a killing
implementing them. Feeling the atmosphere in business terms and making
predictions is a talent one is born with. Maybe everyone is born with --
but not everyone knows how to listen to -- their inner voice. I was aware
of that voice very early.
So, here I am at age 40, working on my grande finale (maybe) startup,
getting ready for a pitch contest in Washington D.C. hosted by Fortify.vc,
and I feel like a nine-year old girl. I am excited and can't wait to get
my turn to tell the audience how we are solving local advertising and
online reputation management problems. We are going to kick ass, and we
are not taking any no's or maybe's. However, the 40-year-old stops me, and
she can't believe I enlisted in a "contest." The average age there will
probably be 12, and I am going to feel the need for extra Botox for round
two if I make it through the first cut.
I watch Shark Tank with my kids, and we always make fun of the poor
schmuck trying to sell vacuum nose hair trimmers and sweating and shaking
in front of some guy with money. He makes his pitch. Then he takes
questions and tries to make sense of his finances and needs. If his pitch
is weak, tons of questions follow. If it is tight, then the sharks are
either in or they are out immediately -- without the torture. It is all in their pitch.
So this got me thinking: how is my pitch? After all, Distilled
Intelligence, where we will present, allows me do a one-minute pitch, and
I have to stand out from 100 companies to make it to round two. Can I say
everything that's in my head in one minute? The last decade of publishing
and running my own company brought me to this point. All of my experiences
have enabled me to be able to disrupt the very industry I came from, and
you want me to sum it all up in one minute?
Okay, a true entrepreneur will rise to the challenge and, like any
intelligent CEO, I set up stage with my kids and a timer to sell them on
my one-minute pitch. Kids are great judges. If they understand your idea
in one minute, then everyone else will. We called it the Kids' Tank. Kids
are more vicious than sharks. Any parent knows that.
I pitched my idea in one minute. Then again. Then again with the timer
clicking in my son's hands. His feedback? "Eh, not so good mom. I don't
understand when you stutter and say 'umm' a lot." I go again... and again,
until my pitch is so tight, I need a recorder. I need a camera team to
document the aha moment I just had. You can sum up all you know in one
minute. If you can't, then you don't know your sh@t. The kids are finally
sold, and I am on to round two with them.
Now wish me good luck with the other kids -- those who are actually writing