Monday: The Finale
There are lots of important moments in our life. As little as a homework deadline from school, and as big as a life changing moment, like marriage or career changes. Sometimes you are well prepared for the moment, sometimes not. But one thing that always helps you to keep performing well is to always be confident and beat your stress by calm and steady work. This is what we all learn in our daily ETH lives.
After three days of hard work, the Shiz-Academy was facing its big day and final judgement on its performance. It was to be a big day.
Monday morning started with a small anecdote. The team had worked really hard before they went to sleep, on Sunday evening. So they woke up a bit later compared to the previous days.
While they were still enjoying the last bit of sweetness of their dreams , the rector of ETH Zurich, Sarah Springman came to the cube to check how they were doing. The rector definitely couldn’t see anyone from outside, because two third of the cube was surrounded with a curtain to create the sleeping area during the night. It was around 8:15 am, and Ms Springman was carefully looking into the cube, when Christos saw the arrival of rector through the gap of curtain. He was really excited to see the rector and directly ran out to greet her, while others slowly were waken up by the noise.
Ms. Sarah Springman is well-know for her charisma. She carefully asked the team about their living conditions in the cube and their level of excitement towards the competition. Everyone felt great and cheered by seeing the rector at the start of their final day in the cube. They were ready to kick-start.
When I came in the cube around 9:00 am, the team members were readily discussing their final presentation. They already had a lot of discussion over their pitch deck, but couldn’t really reach an agreement on every level of details. Time was passing by really quick, and, in the morning, the entrepreneurial expert, Dominik, came in again to oversee their pitch.
Preparing a good pitch deck is an art. With a limited amount of pitching time, the usage of words, picture, slides and even knowing where to stop matters.Every detail of the pitch should serve to make the idea clear and sound. The team had lots of idea on how to organise the story line, how to phrase sentences and how to highlight their selling point. Yet, they hadn’t have any pitch deck ready. It’s really very easy to get lost in the details. When you are being too careful about every detail, it’s really easy to just stop moving all together.
And, very quickly, time passed by. It was around lunch time, but I didn’t see any pitch deck ready. Only 4-5 hours left to the final, the team felt the stress and finally got their hands on actually creating the slides. Although it’s rather late in the game, I always believed they would make it. Indeed, these strong characters were all very efficient when they had to divide and conquer and stress always brought the best out of them.
Another difficulty they faced in pitching was to differentiate their brilliant idea from the already existing products. The final idea they had was a tool to help people track, structure and share the knowledge they learned. However, it sounded too similar to the bookmark of an internet browser to one of the expert and too similar to Evernote to another expert. People’s imagination always try to relate something new to something they are already familiar with. Sometimes it’s really hard to get your idea through so that people don’t mix it up to the existing products or ideas. Yet, that’s the exact bias the team had to fight over by pitching. This fact also implied that the idea and pitch must be much better to deliver the right message.
Time on the final day went very fast. As a facilitator, I couldn’t do anything about it. At 4:00 pm sharp, they delivered their pitch and rehearsed several times. From that moment on, I realised, as a facilitator, I couldn’t help than anymore. It was all their wisdom and effort now.
5:30 pm, the finale started. I sitted besides my team before they went on the stage to give them one final cheer. They were all excited and relaxed at the same time. At least, I couldn’t read any signs of nervousness from their face. However, I was very nervous inside. Maybe because I was on the same competition one year ago and we got the first prize. So I wanted so badly for my team to win again, although it’s not exactly my competition.
Our team was the last one to pitch. And they did just as well as they had practised. The judges asked a lot of questions related to the price of their product and service, etc. In the end, the Shiz-Academy wasn’t the top 3 in the judges’ eyes.
It’s definitely a pity in a way, but these happy kids couldn’t be upset by the result. They were hungry for victory indeed, and they collected feedbacks from judges after the finale. However, the true warriors don’t really need a prize to be motivated, they would just go after the important issues relentlessly. And the pursuit itself is already rewarding.
However, the take away from the InCube journey is way beyond the competition and the final award. There are endless competition to be won in life. But there may not be another journey that a group of like-minded people are discovered, gathered, working and living together and in the end, walking out of the cube being the best friends. I am so grateful to the whole experience, both as an organiser and facilitator, in terms of the challenge we went after, the difficulties we fought over, the friends we discovered. Most importantly, the achievement we delivered as a team, of bring whole InCube 2018 journey to everyone, makes the InCube 2018 journey unforgettable.
Thank you, the team of InCube 2018 and ETH Entrepreneur Club !
Shirzart Enwer was InCube participant 2017, co-organiser 2018 and cube facilitator for the Education Team on Polyterasse during InCube 2018. He is doing his Master studies in environmental engineering at ETH.