The first time entering into such a major competition like the Chivas Venture, we told ourselves that this was just for gaining experience and to have a feel of where Picha stands on the world stage. To us, even winning the Malaysian title in January was an unbelievable achievement because the other finalists were strong and have been in business for quite some years, we were pretty much “babies”. However, we kept our morale high and told ourselves, our passion will be what sets us apart.
Throughout the last few months of preparation, we took what we learnt from Oxford (organised by Chivas Venture in collaboration with Skoll Centre) and tried to incorporate into Picha. Whether it was the sharing, or how we review our visions in Picha, it was all really helpful. Then, we came to the point of preparing for the 5 minutes pitch that would get us to the final five which was an opportunity to present it in the Next Web Conference happening in Amsterdam. And that was when it hit us, how big this was. It took me an entire month. Just for FIVE MINUTES.
Though I have done quite a few pitches for Picha but doing it for a competition gives you a whole new level of nervousness and feels completely different. Competing with 26 other amazing ideas all around the world, it was intense, EVERYONE have AMAZING ideas that I truly love. You have people generating energy from transportation travelling on the roads, to people who enabled the blind to read more with a braille device, and people who enable the disabled to enter into the ocean with technology. They were all beautiful projects. They were such strong competition, and it was an honor simply being in such company.
Luckily and thankfully for our mentor, Ehon papa, who guided us through the entire preparation and rehearsal of the pitch. We did multiple reviews just for the slides to ensure it had all the necessary elements to capture the essence of our business; stories, numbers and vision. Repeated rehearsals, over and over and over again and we definitely couldn’t have perfected it without him. And to top it off, we had just 5 minutes to communicate this vision with the judges and the world! Nerve racking. I’ve never prepared for something so short for such a long period of time, except for music. It was a great experience and definitely something I’d go through all over again as I reflect on it.
As I tried to be really focused throughout the week when I was in Amsterdam, having my co-founder’s support right with me was definitely crucial. Not simply to help for the pitch, the hardest was all the waiting. Waiting for your turn, waiting for the judges to deliberate, waiting for the announcement of winners. And this cycle was not just during the finals but 2 rounds before that, to get from Top 27 to Top 9 and only then to the Top 5. Though I was netflix-ing all the way to kill time and tried to make myself calm, I got to admit, there was still a lot of nerves in me. The announcements of getting into Top 9 and Top 5 was intense. During the Top 9’s announcement, Picha was announced LAST and just having to endure that amount of stress was truly getting to me. I wasn’t able to sleep or eat at all!