Agility Pitch Competition 2021

Step 1: Application

$4500 in Seed Funding Available

$4,500 in Seed Funding Available  

Seed funding is money to be invested in developing your business idea. This award will be put towards your business and can help to: develop your first prototype, improve packaging, help to carry out marketing, purchase materials, etc. If you place, you must submit a proposal outlining the allocation of your seed funding.

1st $2000
2nd $1500
3rd $1000

 

Timeline

 

Pitch Competition Timeline

 

  • Application Due: - DEADLINE EXTENDED
    Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 | 12:00 pm 
  • Round 1 Acceptance: April 7th, 2021

  • Nail Your Pitch Workshop: Wednesday, April 13th, 2021 | 4:00 pm 

  • Pitch Practice Sessions: April 13-18, 2021

  • Pitch Videos Due: April 19th, 2021

  • Finalists Notified: April 26th, 2021

  • Event Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2020 | 2:00 – 4:00 pm 

What’s next:  
  • 150 Start-up Weekend | May 1st, 2021 

  • Trailblazing |Fall 2021 

  • Crowdfund campaign 

  • 1-1 Session with Agility Member 

  • Newsletter, Follow Socials, Harness  

 

Eligibility

Types of Businesses  

This is a business with the goal of making money by selling a service or product to customers. Ex. Walmart, Amazon

Non-profit organizations aim to provide society's needs. The company's income is never to be distributed to any owners but is to be recycled back into the non-profit corporation's public benefit mission and activities. Ex. Red Cross, WFF 

A business that has specific social objectives. They seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment. Their profits are principally used to fund social programs.

General Requirements 

  • Must be a student at the University of Lethbridge or have graduated in the last 5 years.  

  • ALL students (Undergraduate, Graduate, PhD., Post Doc., etc.) from ALL faculties are welcome to apply. Applicants from the Calgary and Lethbridge campus welcome.  

Identify if your business is For-Profit, Non-Profit/Charity, or a Social Enterprise.  

Need help creating financial projections? Use this template and get them done in 15 minutes! 

Financial Projections Template

 

After you have been accepted
Step 2: Build Your Pitch

 

Need help structuring your pitch? Attend Nailing Your Pitch on the First Try to learn the best practices of presenting at a pitch competition. Craig will go over an effective presentation strategy, slide design, and presentation skills. 

Register Today

The Judges will be evaluating entrepreneurs on their story pitch. This means that your job is to tell a story and captivate your audience. You can be as creative as you like. However, you are required to build a pitch deck and present your idea yourself (no celebrity endorsers!). You will be evaluated on 4 components of your pitch: desirability, viability, feasibility, and delivery.

Your pitch deck can only be 10 slides (maximum) and you will have 8 minutes to present your pitch. If your recording goes over 8 minutes, your recording will be cut short to meet the required time limit. There are 2 rounds of pitches. The first will be a recorded submission (you can use YuJa, YouTube, Zoom, Google Slides). You will be required to have your pitch deck and yourself visible for the judges to review.

Each competitor will receive 1 piece of feedback from the judges in the first round, along with the scores from the judges. The top 5 pitches will be selected for the finals, which will be live.

The finalists will have the ability to alter their pitches based on the feedback they will have received from the judges in the first round. There are 3 prizes for the top 3 pitches ($2,000, $1,500, $1,000). All winnings must be put towards developing your business idea. Winners will be required to submit a budget that entails how they will spend their money. Entrepreneurs will be required to include a marketing component and at least one consultation with a lawyer in their budget. The winners of the competition will have the option to seek continued support from Agility, tecconnect, or their relevant think tanks (based on their geography)

Your pitch deck must follow the Pitch Framework that is outlined below. It is important that contestants know the judges are following grading criteria set to exactly the same structure as the pitch deck outline. Any departure from this structure may lead to disqualification or elimination. Judges will be evaluating pitches on a 4-point scale for each slide. Where 3 is the highest score and 0 is the lowest score.

Throughout this framework, you will have an example of a fictional entrepreneur to guide your thinking. We will be using the Harry Potter story arc to illustrate how a pitch could be built. For this example, the entrepreneur will be a witch selling protection trinkets. Below is a guide to helping you organize and plan your pitch deck:

The first portion of your pitch will cover the desirability of your business idea. In other words, you are answering the question of why people will buy your idea. Your first four slides will outline whether or not your business idea is wanted.

 

Here are the main topics and questions you will be answering for this portion;

1. Triggering Event: Why now?

The triggering event is all about the timing of your business proposal. You want to address why you believe your customers are looking for this solution now. This can come in the form of secondary market research and qualitative data from possible customers. This question is looking for you to address the problem that your customers have. A great way to illustrate this is by using numbers and statistics to demonstrate the need.

For example, the trigger event in Harry Potter was the return of Voldemort. Our witch entrepreneur would never have sold protection trinkets if Voldemort didn’t come back. The witch entrepreneur knows this is a problem because she read a lot of news stories in the Daily Prophet and has talked to parents of children who attend Hogwarts. Looking at the population data for Hogwarts, she knows how many families most likely have this issue.

Make sure that you clearly identify a target customer segment and timing of your idea here and get specific. What has changed in the world that makes it a good time for your business to start?

2. Desired Outcome: What is the opportunity?

The desired outcome is looking at what the customer wants and how many people have this problem. This is going to clarify even further the wants and needs of your customer base. Here you want to illustrate that your problem is worth solving and there is a large enough market for your idea

For example, our witch knows that 95% of her neighbours who are parents or guardians are worried about their children going to Hogwarts. Our witch knows there are 1,000 students at Hogwarts every year. This means that her target market is 950 families. She can go on to demonstrate the global need for her products. There are 11 other wizarding schools, so she can assume there are 10, 450 families who have this problem. She guesses that most of these families have at least 2 children, so her total market size is 20, 900 children.

Make sure you clearly identify how many people have this issue. What is the size of your market and who is your market?

3. Existing Alternatives / Problems: Who is the competition?

Existing alternatives looks at how customers solve their problems today. This is an important distinction from just speaking about competitors. Your focus here is to look at your direct competition, but also think about other methods your customers are using to solve their problem(s).

For example, our witch did a competitors’ analysis by using the Wireless and walking down Diagon Alley to find out what other stores sell similar products or market a solution to the same problem. She discovered that there are 2 local businesses that sell similar products: one is a charmed necklace and the other is a potion. She also found out that around the world, there are 10 other businesses who sell similar solutions. Our witch entrepreneur knew that she also needed to know other ways her customers solve this problem. When she interviewed Mrs. Weasley, she found out that she uses a bewitched grandfather clock to keep track of her family. Other families use the owl post 1x a week to talk with their children, some use Floo Powder to check on their children at school, and some have made their older children swear an unbreakable bond to protect their younger siblings. Our witch knows that some of the alternatives are free, like the unbreakable bond, but since this bond causes you to die if you go against it, not many families choose this solution.

Make sure you identify what might be broken or wrong about her competitors. How are people currently solving this problem and what is wrong with it?

4. Unique Value Proposition / Solution: How do you create and deliver value?

Here you are finally getting into sharing your business idea. This is where you get to demonstrate what sets your idea apart from the competition and how it is the best solution for your target customers. To help you demonstrate the value of your idea, we highly recommend you complete a unique value proposition canvas to get your thoughts down. You can find this for free here.

In our example, the witch entrepreneur was able to clearly identify her value to her customers because she knows the issues with the current options. Her solution is better than the owl post because it only requires a 1x purchase and owls need to be fed, nurtured, and trained. Her solution doesn’t require expert spell work like Mrs. Weasley’s clock, which most witches and wizards can’t do. Her solution consistently monitors children which is much better than only being able to check on them occasionally with the Floo Powder, plus using the Floo Network is really dirty!

Make sure you clearly identify how your idea create gains and solves pains for your customers. What makes your solution unique and how does it bring value to your customers?

 

The second portion of your pitch will cover the viability of your idea. This will cover whether or not you can make enough money with your business to be profitable and whether or not your idea can grow. In other words, you are answering the question, will my business make enough money to be profitable? Your next three slides will outline whether or not your business will make enough money.

Here are the main topics and questions you will be answering for this portion

5. Unfair Advantage: How do you defend against the competition?

For this slide, you are going to answer the question that everyone in your audience has right now, “What makes you different?”. There are so many businesses out there and other ways to solve this problem, so you need to demonstrate why your idea will survive. Most ideas that fail don’t have an unfair advantage or something that can’t be copied. This is your main line of defense against the competition. Lots of larger organizations or breakthrough inventions can protect their unfair advantage with a patent. Since you are just starting out, you don’t really need a patent, but it is helpful for you to think about this slide with that in mind. You might not have an unfair advantage right now, but you do want to make sure you talk about how you will in the future. Ash Maurya has written a blog that outlines some examples of unfair advantages that you can look at here.

For instance, our witch entrepreneur is actually friends with Albus Dumbledore, the Head Master of Hogwarts. After talking with him about her idea, she came back with some excellent insider information about security and protocols at Hogwarts. Without this knowledge, her product wouldn’t work behind the protection spells cast around Hogwarts.

Make sure you demonstrate how you already have a secret sauce or are building towards a secret sauce for your idea so it can’t be copied. What makes your idea special and not repeatable by anyone else but you?

6. Revenue Stream: How do you capture value?

This gets into your business model and how you make money. If you create value for your customer, then they will buy your solution. This is where you describe your pricing model. There are lots of ways to determine your pricing model, but we recommend you follow the value-based pricing model. HBR has a great article that outlines how to price your idea with value-based pricing here.

Our witch entrepreneur has decided to price her product for two segments; guardians with one child and guardians with multiple children. She calculated the cost of the next best alternative, which was owl post. She calculated families have 1-time costs of an owl (15 Galleons) and quill (6 Sickles). She also knows they need to pay for paper (5 Knuts), ink (3 Sickles), and owl supplies (2 Galleons) every month their child is in school (10 months). Our witch knows that she has an unfair advantage that is unique: her insider information. So, she determines the worth of this advantage at 10 Galleons. She then adds the next best alternative’s price (37 Galleons and 3 Sickles) and her unfair advantage worth (10 Galleons) to equal: 47 Galleons and 3 Sickles. She then decides her product will cost 47 Galleons and 3 Sickles for the first child and every additional family member you add is only 30 Galleons.

Make sure you demonstrate the price that specific customers will pay. How much does a specific customer segment pay for your idea and how did you get there?

 

7. Traction Roadmap or Financial Analysis: What are your key milestones?

We highly encourage entrepreneurs to use Ash Maurya’s Traction Roadmap tool when you want to demonstrate your financial analysis. You can read about it here and you do have access to it for free with an account to Leanstack.com. If you prefer, you can complete a simplified financial analysis that is provided by Bow Valley College here. This slide is meant to demonstrate your projection of revenue for at the first 3 years of operations. What is most important to keep in mind when you put this together is aligning your costs (one-time and recurring) with your revenue (one-time and recurring). You need to have a goal in mind for your business’s third year of operations and you need to communicate how you will get there on this slide.

Our witch entrepreneur created a traction roadmap using the Wireless and with guidance from her muggle advisor (for some reason, wizards don’t put much stock into inventors). She set her 3-year goal (i.e., minimum success criteria) at $500,000 in revenue a year. Her roadmap shows that by July 2021, she needs to have 516 paying customers, which she thinks is possible to do. She believes that she will be able to reach her target market when she scales by 2024. The total number of clients she will need by then is 10,571. She knows that she will need to find ways to involve other sales by 2024, so she makes note of that need for later. She uses this information to plan her business with problem/solution fit, product/market fit, and scale. She identifies dates and sales as her milestones so she can stay on track. Here is her traction roadmap:

Make sure you address your 3-year revenue goal, specific milestones (can be the same as our witch or other annual goals), and when you will reach your milestones. How do you know your idea will generate enough customer interest to make enough money and grow?
 

 

The last portion of your pitch will cover the feasibility of your business idea. In other words, you are answering the question of can you actually build or make your idea. Your last three slides will outline whether or not your business idea is possible.

Here are the main topics and questions you will be answering for this portion:

8. Now/ Next/ Later Plan: What is your rollout strategy?

The now/ next/ later plan is all about how you are going to rollout out your business plan. This illustrates how you plan to move your business idea forward and what your main focus is for specific timeframes of your business. This is a more microscopic look at your milestones and how you plan to get there. This is called the Now/ Next/ Later Plan because you should highlight three milestone plans that align with your traction roadmap or financial analysis. In other words, you want to share what you will be doing to move your business forward in the next three weeks (now), three months (next), and three years (later).

In our example, the witch knows she has a lot of work to about validating her idea. She decides that in the next three weeks, she is going to organize a booth at Flourish & Blotts when students are busy with back-to-school shopping. She will need to get a few prototypes designed and built for the booth, as well as determine her business name and logo. Our witch looks at her traction roadmap and sees her second milestone, problem/solution fit, should be achieved in 3 months. For her next plan, she wants to have her product prototypes refined and she is going to host workshops on safety for free, while promoting her product. She wants to have a few segments on the Wireless network because she knows moms typically listen to the Wireless for their news. She also wants to have a few ads in the Daily Prophet. She thinks she might need to have a referral program or loyalty program started to encourage people to share her product. When she looks at her later plan, which is 3 years from now, she notices that she should have a total customer base of 10,571. She thinks that Voldemort is going to be around for 7 years, so she assumes she is going to be keeping customers for 7 years, but she isn’t sure if her product will last for 7 years without needing an upgrade or maintenance. She knows that to get to this target, she will need to come up with a way to keep her customers for a long time and how she can make sure they have the latest, most advanced solution. Even though she doesn’t know how she will do this yet, she puts down that she will have a solution to solve this problem by 2024. She also thinks there will be some new challenges faced by the community if Voldemort keeps growing followers, so she notes that her customer segments may change and require new features. She wonders to herself, what happens if Hogwarts closes and other schools around the world don’t have a similar threat? She puts that down as something she will need to address in her later plan.

Make sure that you are succinct and can demonstrate you have thought about your riskiest assumptions and obstacles for each step of your rollout strategy. You want to demonstrate you have thought about how you will grow your business and you aren’t just running on hope. What do you need to do to make sure your idea will work?

9. Team: Can you pull this off?

You want to leave your team introduction until nearly the very end of your presentation because you want people to remember who you are (as a team) and why you are the right person(s) to start this business. If you open your presentation with your team introduction, people will forget and might not tie in your specific knowledge-base or personality traits that make you the best team to solve this problem. This is a key component of feasibility for starting a business. Without the right team, your idea won’t be able to grow.

Our witch has the insider connection and the expertise in wand work for her idea, but she doesn’t have good marketing skills and she is completely rubbish with building trinkets. As it turns out, when she was interviewing Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley came home and had a model car he was tinkering with in tow. Our witch and Mr. Weasley got to talking, and he expressed interest in helping our witch design and build her trinkets. Our witch found a great team member to help her build and design her products! When she went into the Daily Prophet to inquire about ads, she bumped into Zamira Gulch, a contributor to the Daily Prophet’s advice column. They went to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour to chat about her idea. Within 20 minutes, Zamira had joined her team. Our witch also wants to share that she has a muggle advisor helping her with her business plans.

Make sure you illustrate who is on your team, what level of commitment they have (i.e., advisor, team, co-founder), and what each of you bring to the table. You might need to include who is missing and how you plan to fill that gap. What skills and knowledge does your team have to bring your idea to life?

10. The Ask: Call-to-action

You are building this pitch deck for a purpose: a pitch competition. More specifically, for the express purpose to win money to build your business. You may have some other goals in your pitch, like recruiting a good advisor or getting some advice on something with which you need help. Your call-to-action is a simple ask of your audience.

In our example, the witch is looking for a mentor to help her continue growing her entrepreneurial spirit. She knows that this idea is only going to be feasible for a short period of time, but she hates the idea of working for someone else. So, her ask is this: “I’m looking for a mentor who will help me become a serial entrepreneur”. She includes her contact information so that anyone who might be interested can get a hold of her.

Make sure your audience knows why you are pitching your idea to them and they have a clear line of action to help you. What do you need and how will people be able to contact you?

In addition to the content of your pitch, you will be judged on your delivery. For the first round of the pitches, you will submit a recording of your pitch deck and you (and your team) presenting your pitch. The judges are going to be looking out for a few things in your pitch delivery. In other words, you are going to be evaluated on the quality of your slides and professionalism. 

Here are the criteria judges will be looking for about your pitch delivery:

11, Speaker Presence: Was the presenter was clear, professional and enthusiastic?

This is going to be about you as a presenter. While you have probably practiced this presentation a million times by now, you want to make sure that keep your energy is high. This is not just about being interesting during your pitch, but it is about building social capital with the judges. In other words, you want to make sure you not only sell your idea, but you also sell yourself! People who invest in your business, whether it is with money, time, or other resources, are investing in you. This means that you need to portray your true self, your values, and your personality in your presentation.

12. Pitch Deck: Was the pitch deck clear, professional, and creative?

Everything you do in your business communicates your brand and speaks to who you are. If you have a sub-par presentation with things like blurry images, misspelled words, complex slides, etc. the people you are presenting to won’t take you seriously. You don’t need to have your brand locked down in a pitch. In fact, you don’t even need a logo! However, you want to be consistent with font, color, and images to take people through your narrative.The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make with a pitch deck is that they compete with their slides. This means that they have some much information on the slides, that even though they are talking, people are too busy reading or get distracted by the content of the pitch deck. We recommend that you try to use only one image per slide to the best of your ability. You can absolutely use another template, but remember that the point of your pitch deck is to supplement your pitch, not to be a standalone document. If people can walk themselves through your pitch deck without you being there, your pitch deck demonstrates that you aren’t important.

13.Story Pitch: Was the pitch interesting and did it tell a story?

This is complementary to your speaker presence because it speaks to how you communicate. This criterium is about how you can talk about your business story. Your pitch needs to make sense and it needs to tell a story. You want to frame this pitch from the perspective of your customer’s story. People support ideas because of the idea’s impact and goals. You want to clearly communicate the change your idea will make. Remember, people invest in businesses through three lenses: heart, mind, and wallet. Before you can convince someone to rationally support your idea, you need win over their emotions. Likewise, people will not give you money or support until they believe in what you are doing (heart) and they can logically make sense of what you are doing (mind). This is the secret to a good pitch. You want to win over people’s emotions and the rest will fall into place.

 


 

Howard and Susan Heil

A word from our donors, Howard and Suzanne Heil 

Innovation is at the heart of mankind’s success. Entrepreneurs are the driving force of innovation. Suzanne, as an Interior Decorator, has been an entrepreneur most of her working life. Howard, as a practicing lawyer has endeavoured to assist entrepreneurs in reaching their full potential. 

“It is our hope, in some small way, with this competition more entrepreneurs can be helped to achieve their goals and in so doing improve and better mankind.”  

Although we are both graduates of other institutions, we feel the U of L is closely connected to the City of Lethbridge, a community we appreciate and love. The University’s mandate in providing a liberal education is important and one we whole heartily support.