Crafting the Perfect Pitch Event Transcript
Julia Goldbey: Good evening everyone I’m Julia Goldbey. I am a Carey alumna. I got my masters in marketing in 2011. First of all, I want to thank all of you for being intrepid travelers and getting here obviously has value to you. A little bit of rain is not going to stop the women of Hopkins. So give yourselves a round of applause. I also want to thank the folks at Pearl because they have a beautiful facility and lovely goodies out front. So I’ve already gone into debt. [laughter] It’s wonderful to have the collective efforts of both Baltimore and Washington present in one room. Just to give you a little bit of an overview of how this event came to be, I was working with the committee, Elena and Ridia, to come up with an event that would have some value rather than just a networking opportunity. And I was on the conference call, and I had just come from a tech breakfast, which if you haven’t gone to one they’re also very, very good. That’s also a Hopkins alumn Ron Shmeltzer who was also in the marketing program at Carey. That particular day it was just a slow morning. There were a lot of great programs and products, but it was really hampered by not having a lot of preparation in delivery or stage fright. So this idea was born. We set out to find some subject matter experts that would be able to sit as judge and jury for potential pitch people. Just to give you an overview of how this will run, it is going to open up a panelist discussion and in the second part of the program we will move to the actual pitches. We have three very brave presenters. They will have a three minute window to impress us all with their products or service. Now I am going to turn the presentation over to Monica and Valerie and they will give you an overview of where they’re from. They are both hard-core entrepreneurs and venture capital angels.
Monica Beeman: Hi everyone my name is Monica Beeman. I am an entrepreneur and advocate. I have been working on my own business for the last three years called Vines to Vino. It is a winemaking endeavor where you come into my location and go through the four step process of making your own wine with the help of a master winemaker. I am expecting to open later this year, although I’ve been saying that for a while, and through my journey of getting Vines to Vino going I have spent a lot of time trying to find financing, find creative ways to get this going, talk to angels. And I found that there is a huge need for other entrepreneurs in the same boat as me and really started to just share my experiences and share the best course of action to go about it. I started working for a company out to Utah called Funding Universe. While I was up at Funding Universe I would connect entrepreneurs to funding sources. I would do that through my connects as well as helping guide them to make better presentations so that when they actually came across an angel or a VC or a bank for that matter they had all the information necessary. I used to teach boot camps to entrepreneurs to make sure that their pitches were correct. I just became imbedded in the tech community of Baltimore as a result, because that’s just where all the entrepreneurs in Baltimore were, in something technical. I still consult for other entrepreneurs and still make connection, but I am more focused on some other hobbies and other things as well as Vines to Vino. And I guess that’s it.
Valerie Gatos: So my name is Valerie Gatos. My company is called Capital Growth Inc. I started the company in 1994. It was actually a venture capital database company. I got introduced to this community early as an entrepreneur. Instead of connecting people, we were just reporting on the deals and information. Capital Grown was the first online searchable database of investors. People would subscribe to the publication and we would do investor interviews. It was actually a huge cash cow for me at a very early age. At one point the Washington Post wanted to buy Capital Growth, and actually I turned them down. This was in the middle of 1998, the middle of the tech boom, and of course multiples on a publication were not very large. And frankly it gave me the opportunity to continue going out in the community, collect the news, get to know more people, because eventually what I wanted to do was get on the investing side of things which I have managed to do. Over the last decade I continued to work with businesses, and buy and sell small businesses. I started off working with companies in exchange for equity, and then I started saying “I will help you pay for your legal counsel in exchange for equity” and then finally just writing checks. It started off as small checks and what’s really neat is that I’ve been ask to be a general partner in a healthcare venture fund and that’s a 20 million dollar fund. For me that was exactly what I wanted to get to, so that there was actually a big fund to be investing with.
I do something called the Angel Venture Forum. Angels are typically people who have been successful in a business, but they love being in business and they want to keep their hands in business, so after they sell a business they have the extra cash and the extra time. But we don’t want to be employers or employees. Frankly after you’ve owned your own business you’re not a very good employee. [laughter] So in a way there’s nothing else for us to do other than helping out in areas in which we feel we are good at helping out. Usually it comes with cash. Angel investments are small investments. We invest our own money. When we write a check to you it’s $50,000 or $100,000 typically at a time, and it comes from our checkbook. Venture capital typically raise money from other people. Sometimes it’s your money with other people’s money. So this fund that I’m working with now, I’ll have some of my money in the fund as well, not only as a general partner but as a limited partner. But for a 20 million dollar fund there will be 80-90 other people putting money in. So we will be investing the money for them, so to speak. There’s a big distinction between angel and venture. Angels write checks from their own checkbook. Venture is someone else’s money.
Monica: And angels can be hands on or hands off. You may have heard a little bit about “smart money” lately. Smart money being the hands on angel investor who you are seeking, not just money, but their knowledge and their connections.
Valerie: Yeah, and that’s a very important distinction. A lot of people will come and knock on my door and say, “I’m looking for money for my business.” And you say, “Why are you coming to me?” “Well because you have money.” That’s not the right answer. The right answer is, “Gee Valerie you came from this particular industry. I think you could help me with these connections.” So the money comes with the mentoring and frankly that mentoring will get you a lot farther in your business and it will help you get as many customers as possible which is really what you want. So that’s my background in angel investing and now moving into the venture realm.
Monica: I was just going to add to that with what I’ve done in the entrepreneurial space is help the entrepreneurs with their pitches and crafting the perfect pitch. So that when you are going in front of Valerie or the Angel Venture forum you have all the information. Because it really does make a difference when you go up there that you have very specific information available in your pitch and not too much information. A lot of people feel that they need to have a 25 page pitch and in reality your pitch should only be able 5-7 slides. You really just need to be able to be very concise and succinct and offer just the right amount of information so that they come talk to you and perceive further and find out the additional information through the due diligence process. The other thing that I also try to help out with is the networking aspect. One of the things that I am a huge advocate of is building relationships with people. It’s not just going in front of an angel investor and pitch your business. It really is very important that you have a relationship with those angels and VCs because they are going to be in your life day in and day out. I really am a huge proponent of making sure that entrepreneurs know that networking and relationships are key in being successful in fundraising.
Valerie: How many of you right now have an existing business that is your own? How many are seeking outside funding? That’s actually great. What’s amazing is that women in general tend not to take outside capital, and tend to get to customers a whole lot faster. In a way it can sometimes be our flaws. We want to make sure we have something to sell before we sell it. And as an investor on this side of the table, one of the things that I really look for is, “Have you exhausted all of your resources?” Have you gone to your bank? Have you gone to your relatives? Have you gone to your spouse? Have you gone to your customers. And a lot of times I look at companies and I’ll say, “Come back when you’ve actually gotten a number of customers”, because you can actually ramp that up a whole lot quicker. What I found was fascinating was that we as able investors when we are looking at investing in a company we are investing in a company. This is not philanthropy. So you’ve got to really separate that, and a lot of people fail to do that. When you make a presentation to me, you need to make the case of when I am going to get my money back and with a return. You need to think you’re going to get your money back times X. Whatever that X amount would be. That is what we’re looking for, and usually with an exit. An exit means a sale to somebody else. We don’t typically fund lifestyle businesses. We need a way to get our money back.
Monica: I agree. That’s actually something that a lot of entrepreneurs fail to put into their presentations. Either they put in their presentations their projections, but that’s not always accurate. It really is making people understand that there has to be an end in sight in some way and identifying exactly how that works.
Audience member: So what you’re talking about is like the show “Shark Tank”. In your statement about other funding sources before you go to a VC or an angel. Is that the normal track to do? That you have to spend all of your funds first and then go to your family and then go to a bank? How do you look at me saying, “I don’t have my own money to spend on this. I don’t have relatives that have invested. You are my only and first step.”
Valerie: That’s okay if you have an explanation for it. One time someone came to me and said they wanted me to fund their business, and I asked some of these questions to get an understanding of their lifestyle, and what they’re doing. The person made the comment about how his wife was retired and they had a summer home. And he seemed pretty young, so I asked him “How old is your wife?” and he said 46. And I said, “Why are you asking me to fund your business, when you have a summer home, and you want me to put money and risk in your business.” It is relative. The only thing is that I like to see you have enough skin in the game. If you come to me and you haven’t developed anything but an idea. If you come to me and you don’t have any equity or any customers. If you don’t have anything built up in that company, you’re asking me for 1 million dollars, I’m going to have to own most of that company and all of a sudden I’m an employer and you’re an employee. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea. But at this stage it just doesn’t make sense. I think very few investors explain that, and a lot of people walk away kind of hurt. I don’t want to be an employer and you don’t want to be an employee. So get over that stage. Grow it slowly. There really is only one reason to take venture capital or outside money and that is that your competition is going to chase you so quickly that that slow growth will never allow you to get to a critical size. And sometimes that speed to market matters.
Audience Member: Can you compare and contrast the pitch that you would make in terms of trying to get outside funding as opposed to one that you would make when you’re just trying to get customers.
Monica: They are absolutely very different. Trying to get outside funding you really need to prove you business. You need to prove where the money is going to come from and how you will repay the investor. Talk about what you business model is. To your customer, you’re marketing. You’re saying this is why you need to come spend your money. The pitch to the investor is more of a pitch. You’re not trying to get them to buy your product. You want them to buy into your idea.
Valerie: So think of a medical device or cupcakes it doesn’t matter. Lets just assume this is the perfect cupcake. I don’t care about the technology. It’s awesome. Don’t talk about your product. Customers want to hear 80% about your product. I want to hear only 20% about your product but mostly about how you’re going to make money. And more importantly how you’re going to make me money. So think of it as 80-20. Customers want to hear 80% about the product. I only want to hear 20% about the product the rest is business.
Audience Member: In terms of identifying investors, where do people go to find investors? How would I know where to look for people? Do the venture capitalists or the angels tend to identify themselves with a certain area or are they across the board?
Monica: The first answer to your first question is that there are a lot of ways. The SEC has put some very specific parameters around what an angel investor can and should be. And they have to be an accredited investor. That means they have to have an annual salary of $200,000 and a total of $1 million in assets excluding your home. That’s what an angel investor would look like. There could be some in the room. They could be part of your circle of friends. But if you are at the point where you are seeking outside funding there is a website called Gust that lists every formed angel group out there at the moment. They used to be called Angel Soft and they changed it to gust. They are the best resource for finding the group of angels that most closely reside to what your business does. Which leads me the next question, and yes angels can be very segmented. Valerie is about to go with a VC fund that is only for healthcare. There is a group of angels in Baltimore of about 39 men and 1 woman that tend to focus more on tech. But they have kind of dabbled in a bunch of things. Blue Ventures is all tech. It doesn’t mean that just because they specify on gust that they are tech doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. I’m using Baltimore Angels as an example because I know that group. There are 40 different personalities at that table and any one of them can be intrigued by your business. You may not get the visibility right away, but in 6 months when they’re looking at who has applied and you’re still there they might find it interesting.
Valerie: That’s importatnt. That’ they’re still there. We get so many applications and so many requests for money that we know that if we get hit up by a company in more than one direction, for example if you talk to Monica or you talk to one of the Baltimore angels and all of a sudden I see one of the Baltimore angels and we start talking about the deals we’ve seen. All of a sudden now your company name starts poping up. Sometimes we don’t look at it initially until our peers start talking about it.
Monica: If all it takes sometimes is meeting someone and them being intrigued by your business and the name comes up they might now be willing or able to invest in your company or in you. But they might be part of a group that your name might come up later. I also want to add, I mentioned gust, but I also want to mention Golden Seeds. Golden Seeds is a women investing in women organization. Your company has to be 51% female owned before you even go to them. They invest a significant amount of money in all industries. You have to have a very good pitch and a very good presentation, but they focus solely on women.
Valerie: What was really interesting in this last year’s Angel Venture Forum, we don’t specifically say we look at women’s owned business, but it just so happened that we had almost 3 or 4 of the 20 companies of women owned business. And Golden Seeds came in and out of the 4 they liked two of them for sure. They’re actually going to do a deal on one of them and talking to the other two. We didn’t target it, but it’s really nice to see women owned business in spaces that are scaleable. That brings up another topic. People say that women owned business don’t get as much capital as male owned businesses. I have a strong belief that there are a couple of reasons for that. The number one reason is that women generally don’t have the science and technology degrees and tend to do service oriented businesses. And those just are not scaleable. Two is that women tend not to ask and when women do ask we get asked more questions, we get more challenged. And the most important thing for women is to just not get down. Men never get down. You can knock them down and they get back up. Sometimes I think that women go to some of these events, get knocked down and then leave. You can’t leave. You just have to be right in there. I think the number one lesson for women owned businesses is don’t give up.
Ridia: Speaking of not getting knocked down. We do have the 3 presenters. So let’s go ahead and turn this portion into the presentations.
Monica: Just one more question.
Audience member: What have been the most effective ways that people have nursed relationships?
Monica: Just constant touching. Emails regularly and--
Valerie: Updates. Not just “Hey when can I meet with you?” No just, “Hey Valerie I just scored another customer just thought you should know.” And that’s it. Now you’re in the back of my radar screen.
Monica: Yeah absolutely. Update emails are really effective because you can say a lot in an email and not take up a lot of our time. I don’t mean me specifically, but any angel investor or anyone who is being inundated with deals has a very limited amount of time. It’s amazing how far that can go as opposed to coffee, coffee, coffee.
Valerie: Here’s a 25 page attachment, can you read it and let me know? [laughter] And the worst thing is when you do read through that and you call the person and you say, “What’s your competition?” “Well that’s in page 3.” Okay I didn’t get to page three. I’m sure it’s in there. I just didn’t get to it.
Ridia: We have three pitchers tonight. Amy did you want to go first?
Amy: Oh sure! Can we have a second just to introduce ourselves?
Amy Smith: I just wanted to say hi and thank you for having me tonight. I am arts and sciences. My name is Amy Smith. I graduated in 2011. I am very much situated in the Baltimore tech space right now, so thank you for describing the last two years of my life in very vivid detail. [laughs] You all may recognize me if you’ve read the Arts and Sciences magazine that came out this past season. One of my companies was featured in the magazine, and that’s actually not the company that I am going to be pitching tonight. I am going to be talking about Project Goto (?) instead.
Valerie: Okay ready.
Amy: Hi I’m Amy Smith from Project Gato. Project Gato is an initiative that aims to create an open source archival standing robot, which small archives can use to digitize their photographic collections for less than $500. We’re funded by the Able Foundation, the Sheridan Libraries at Hopkins and the NCIIA. Our story starts with the Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore, MD. The Afro was founded in1892 by a former slave, and is the oldest African-American newspaper in the country. As you can imagine over the last 120 years of the newspaper’s existence, they’ve amassed a huge collection of priceless historic photographs. However, there is one problem. The newspaper has one archivist to its 1.5 million photographs. So our solution to this problem is Project Gato. The Gato 2 is a robot that scans photos for small archives. If you can imagine, I don’t have it here with me, the Gato 2 is a robot about this big. It sits on a table it has an arm that literally rotates across, goes down, picks up a photograph, puts it on a flatbed scanner, scans the photograph, picks the photograph up again and drops it into a box. It will do this all day, at a much lower cost and much faster than anyone could digitize by hand. The aim of this robot is not to replace the work of an archivist, but rather to complement this work and to allow them to do more important tasks like preservation rather than manual scanning. So right now we are working at the Afro. We’ve digitized more than 50,000 photographs in their archives. By the end of this phase of this project we hope to digitize over 120,000. Now, how do we make any money from this? I’m sure you’re wondering. What we do is we put these images online where people can license them for use in publications, articles, documentary film and the revenue that we get from that goes back to the project and also to the archive. Thus it becomes a self-sustaining project. We’re even talking to Getty Images now about doing a deal where they take the entire collect at the Afro’s archives and they sell that on their site. So if you’ve like to get involved you can find us at projectgato.org. You can find us on Facebook, twitter, and I’m running out of time. [laughs]
Monica: Are you a non-profit or a for-profit business?
Amy: This business is grant-funded at the moment. When the funding ends over the summer, we need to decide are we going to go with a more social enterprise model or are we going to pursue a more traditional business model.
Valerie: What’s the corporate structure now?
Amy: It’s nonprofit now.
Valerie: Like a C3?
Amy: No. It’s open source. The hardware and software is all open source.
Monica: No. Your corporate structure. Are you a 51C3?
Valerie: You’re like an LLC? Proprietor?
Amy: No the project its self—
Monica: Oh, it’s a project!
Valerie: So it’s a project. It’s not even a company.
Amy: Yeah exactly. They project is nothing.
Valerie: Who does the grant write the check to?
Amy: The grant writes the check to Emerging Technologies sectors in Baltimore who runs it throughout LLC.
Monica: Oh okay. So, how much does your machine cost?
Monica: That’s it?
Amy: We sell it at cost. We’re making money off the process not off the robot itself. That’s in comparison to the scanners that you get for images and books start at $70,000.
Monica: So I used to work at the BNO Reverd (??) Museum, and they have an archive larger than the Afro Magazine. They have the exact same issue, so I will gladly chat with you afterwards and get you connected with them, because they would jump on something like this.
Valerie: That’s way more valuable than her giving money. Because you’re making that connection. So this robot, what kind of intellectual property do you have, and what’s unique about this robot?
Amy: It’s all open source. Hardware and software. We could never file patents. We filed patents on our other company, but that’s a whole other story.
Valerie: Why is that?
Amy: Why was it created that way? I wasn’t the one who created this robot, so I’m not sure why it was created that way.
Valerie: It almost seems like you could create a service around how you integrate the robot with the archivists, and it’s more of a process and service.
Amy: You were talking about a start-up vs lifestyle business. In my opinion this company would make a much better lifestyle business than a startup. Because it would be hard to scale.
Audience member: I see an opportunity with this business. We can have a consumer product. How many families have tons of photos? I’ve sat there trying to scan photos to digitize them, and if I could have paid a robot… [laughter]
Amy: It’s funny you say that. We did a program at the Reginold F. Lewis Museum (??) downtown. A digitization day where families came in with their photos and we taught them our process. So even if they don’t have a robot they can use our process to digitize their own photos.
Audience member: But you could even have one person sitting there digitizing. You could just have a process in big cities. Maybe you could sell it to a Ritz Photo, who could do something like that and very inexpensively.
Valerie: So how much does this robot weigh?
Amy: It’s maybe 5 lbs. It’s about this big. The first version of the robot was this big, it weighed 100lbs, took three people to carry into a building. It was all made out of wood and had linear motion. These are made of plastic parts and the motions are all rotational.
Valerie: So one of my pet peeves as an investor is if you could carry it why didn’t you present it? Or even just show me a picture? I know this is only three minutes so it might be a little unfair for me to ask that.
Ridia: Actually she asked if she could show a video. And we said “Well what if you actually run into someone in an elevator?” We didn’t want any props or crutches for this event.
Valerie: I totally agree. Great presentation within the minutes. The most important thing you did was you got me interested. That’s really what you want to do in that elevator pitch. Don’t inundate me. If you start talking about everything the robot does—you went right through and just said here’s a robot, here’s what it does. You told me the practical aspects of the robot. Then you moved on and said here’s what we do, here’s who our customers are. Beautiful presentation. [applause]
Ridia: I just want to say one more thing. You should consider at Johns Hopkins at the Alumni relations office we have archived the year book. Every year for reunion we have students scan all the photos, because we put the photos onto your buttons.
Audience member: Another opportunity. I am in the historical preservation community at my church and we are trying to go through hundreds of years of documents and photos and I definitely want to get your information.
Audience member: I have seen that there is a market for it. There are companies that you can send your photos to, they digitize them and send you products back to you. So when you are doing your market research or growing, there is some consumer aspect to it.
Valerie: But, you know, who wants to send their valuable photos?
Audience member: So you talked about the 80/20. She did a really good job selling the product. But what is that 20% financial that she would need?
Valerie: And this goes back to—this is a 3 minute pitch—I wouldn’t change a thing. [applause] You touched on the fact that you have customers. This is a grant albeit, but you talked a little about how there is a need and someone is paying you to do this. So now I’m interested because there is outside validation. It’s not just you telling me this is good, but you’ve been hired to do this, you got a grant to do this.
Amy: Thank you so much. It’s such a compliment coming from both of you.
Monica: I actually know the people over at ETC very well. So I know you’re getting very good mentoring.
Valerie: From a stylistic standpoint, confidence without being arrogant is very important. For women, I just see so many women get intimidated especially when they’re standing in front of a panel full of guys. You have to just get over that.
Amy: I have to say, that with my experience in the tech community it is mostly men, and to have a group a women listening to me and give positive reinforcement is really nice.
Monica: I actually started a group in Baltimore called Women.Tech for that exact reason. [laughter] Good job!
Pat Brown: okay, I’ll do the introduction as well. My name is Pat Brown. I am a Carey alumn. I got my MBA in Organization Development in 2010. I spent 28 years working in corporate America, primarily senior leadership roles. I spent a lot of time mentoring and coaching people and I am at a transition in career which was partially planned and partially not planned because it came sooner than I wanted it to happen. But I decided to start working with people to help them navigate through the transition and help deal with change. So my focus comes from that perspectice. I started P. Brown and Associates which is an organization development practice and my focus is change. You talked about women falling down and then getting up. I have fallen and I have gone through the experience and the challenge of getting up and my focus is to work with other people and help them do the same thing. Embracing change, navigating through the complexity of change and going from resilience to transformation. I talk to people about not getting caught up in the stuff that happens. Learn from the experience and create the transition for who the new you is going to be. To use your talents and your skills and not try to create somebody else’s. It’s all about change and about getting up after you fall down over and over again until it works for you.
Monica: What is it that you are hoping to accomplish with your pitch tonight?
Pat: I really want to kind of bounce it off because I started off working with corporate entities. I used to work with a lot of consultants, and I liked what they did. But all of my engagements have been with women and primarily faith-based organizations. So I am kind of at the point of transitioning who I am and what I want to do, and sometimes I get in environments where I struggle with how to explain that. So this is my chance to bounce it off and see how it feels, and certainly if you have opportunities for speakers in your organizations I would love to do that.
Valerie: First, your message is great. I think that’s just really super. I like that. I’m not sure what your business is. I’m not sure I understand what you’re doing, who your customer is. You’re still trying to figure it out, and that’s okay. I can’t really wrap my arms around what it is you do.
Pat: I do motivational speaking and I do consulting, but I had the work consulting. So I want to call myself a mentor, a coach because I think everyone is a consultant. Everybody who is not working becomes a consultant and that’s not who I am. At this point in my life I’m more about authenticity, and reaching out and helping people than it is to do all of that other stuff. I am really trying to find that word that differentiates me from the consultants.
Valerie: I always say that another word for unemployed is entrepreneur. [laughter]
Audience member: It’s a really interesting concept. Is it a personal type service or is it a service based towards somebody in their professional life?
Pat: It’s personal; it’s professional; it’s small business owners. I’ve don’t a lot of work over the course of my career with small business owners that are trying to understand vision and mission and what their core values are. So it’s small but it can be personal or professional.
Valerie: So what I want to hear from you then is, exactly that—you just identified the market. But I want to hear from you saying that you do a series of six sessions for 1 hour and at the end you charge this much for it and then you’ve got other assistants helping you. I want to see how you’re going to grow the business because maybe you’re not the only one. And graduates from your program are going to be assistants, so you are growing your program. I want to see growth. I want an understanding of, not where you are here, but what you want to be over there. How many of you in the room, by the way, were athletes or played sports in college? Okay. It’s kind of like skiing it’s that you don’t look at that area when you’re going over that ice. When you’re a runner you don’t hit that goal line, you want to go past the goal line. I want to see that momentum.
Ridia: So my question is kind of along those lines. Is this a program that you offer?
Pat: It really depends on the organization. Like with churches I’ve gone in and done all inclusive, vision, mission and values workshops. The couple of churches that come to mind, it was a 6-8 month process, because we gathered from all the members, did analysis, did leadership workshops.
Valerie: Now you’re telling me all this, that’s great. You have to have that in the pitch. You have to say this is what I do. This is what I’ve done. It’s this program. We do an analysis-
Pat: Would you do all that in an elevator pitch?
Monica: Yeah. Well you spent a whole minute kind of repeating the same thing. You could have cut that down to, literally, 15 seconds and then spent 2:45 talking about a 6 week program, or 6 month program. How you have improved the lives so far and how you are going to continue to do that.
Audience member: The other thing I thought was just be able in the pitch to show your successes. So that people recognize that you have something tangible to show for what you’ve been doing.
Valerie: A great thing to do to kind of get that pitch down, at least the 30 second pitch and then you can kind of take each of those elements and expand it to get to the 3 minutes, is take the back of your business card and write and tell me what you do on the back of your business card. And just keep doing it until it gets punch.
Monica: I like that. I’m going to take that.
Pat: Thank you!
Valerie: For those of you who are athletes at Hopkins, did you play on the AstroTurf? I played lacrosse at Dickinson College, and when we used to play lacrosse on that AstroTurf, oh my god, it was like all of a sudden the ball instead of going thud just shoots right up. And all you Hopkins girls were off knowing exactly how it was going to go. And don’t ever fall on that astroturf. [laughter]
Monica: [laughs] So anyways, you tell me when to hit start.
Jennifer Lee: I’ll just do the introduction again. Hi, my name is Jennifer Lee. I am the practicum navigator at the Johns Hopkins school of public health. I graduated with my master’s in public health just last year. Basically what my pitch is going to be about is—
Valerie: Should I hit start?
Jennifer: Oh, not yet. You guys are actually potential partners for us. We are basically pitching the program that we have at our school where we place students out into the community.
Valerie: so you’re seeing everyone as customers?
Jennifer: In a sense. That’s kind of the pitch that way. I’m not trying to get money.
Valerie: Oh okay.
Jennifer: Hello everyone, thank you so much for taking so much for taking time out of your day today to talk to me about potentially having a student at your organization. We know that everyone is really busy, and we all have those projects that we want to complete but we just don’t have the manpower. Today I’m here to help you fill that gap. So what I do is I build partnerships within community. I help engage students in public health practice. The student practicum that we have at our school engages students in real world public health work. But also it benefits the partner organization. These projects are both meaningful for the student and for you. The students get enhancement of their education. They get to apply their skills that they learned in the classroom to real projects that have a meaningful impact in the community. These projects are identified by you. Public health is more than just books and reading, we all know that. It’s also learning through practice and this adds that extra element to their education. You get masters of public health graduate students who are ready to apply their skills into practice. These include quantitative and qualitative skills, program development and implementation, policy analysis and more. Students also have at least two years of post-baccalaureate health related health experience. The courses that they work in are 8 week long courses, so they are very familiar with a fast paced environment. You get to identify the project. These are projects that are needed in your organization and students are there to support that project. You’re not alone. We also support you as well. We are there to help you conceptualize the project, provide you with additional technical assistance and also the completion of the deliverable. So hopefully you’ll consider having our students and we can talk more about what projects might look like.
Valerie: So I think you started off talking about what you do. I’m still not sure what you do. I lost you.
Jennifer: Okay yeah. So basically I am the person who connects with the community to help them think about different projects at their organizations that students might be able to help them with.
Valerie: So what kind of projects?
Jennifer: So they’re scholarly projects where they can apply what they’re learning in the classroom out into the field. For example there’s a student who is working on helping an organization reevaluate their hospital readmission program. So the student is going to the organization and looking at the process of how their program is running, so then they can reevaluate it and provide recommendations for the next year.
Valerie: So are there three particular areas that are like top three areas that you have students help with?
Jennifer: So I guess a lot of students work on data analysis, program evaluation and policy analysis.
Valerie: Perfect. That works. Because what will happen is you give me those three top and I’m going to figure out and then ask you a question and say, “Do you have any students that do XYZ?” So get me there first.
Audience member: Are these internships? Who pays?
Jennifer: So basically the practicum is a requirement for the masters of public health program. So students can get paid if it’s possible. But most of the time students do not get paid and it is like an internship.
Audience member: How do you ensure the organization that this won’t just be more work for them?
Jennifer: We definitely want them to realize that it is more work for the organization, but we try to focus on the fact that in the long run the student is producing a product that the organization can use to help further whatever they’re working on. We try to push the benefits. We make sure they know what’s expected of them and all of that.
Audience member: So when you target an organization do you actually propose ideas?
Jennifer: Like projects? So people are usually pretty excited. We usually do a little background research on them and then I’ll have some ideas in my head, but I want it to come from them because I want them to work on projects that will actually benefit the organization. So I just let them bring in their ideas first, but if it’s not really going in the direction that it needs to I start to bring in some ideas that I have to see if that’s something that makes sense.
Audience member: So including that in your pitch I think would be productive.
Jennifer: Yeah definitely. Thank you.
Audience member: Since you’re pitching to a diverse group like this one, could you come up with some examples? Like, “wouldn’t it be great to have somebody knowledgeable, educated to help you?”
Audience member: I just have one quick question. Working at the school of medicine and understanding the importance of immersion, I didn’t hear anything about mentoring and that, to me, is value added. Because you are giving back professionally. It would take you to a little be more of a personalized level.
Audience member: Jennifer one quick thing. Just a comment about students. What you need to is describe. This is a student who is completing their course work in the next 6 months. Because when you say student it could be two months in the program or two months from the end of the program. Those are very different. It’s teaching them versus them bringing a set of skills and experiences and adding value to my organization.
Valerie: Can I add something from the advice standpoint? When I was in college I did internships, and I did not get paid. And I always encourage people to do unpaid internships and here’s why. Because if they get paid minimum wage you will be treated like a minimum wage employee. I would just say don’t pay me because then they would feel obligated to give you something for working. And I think if you can get students to go in with that mindset, even if they are getting paid $10 an hour, if they come to me I as an employer I would be much more excited if someone comes to me and is like, “I am here because I really want to learn.” I think we need to change that attitude in students that, if you want to be an employee you are going to be treated like an employee, if you want to be treated like an apprentice then you need to act like an apprentice.
Jennifer: Thank you so much.
Elena Thomson: I wanted to come up and actually wrap it up. I want to throw in one more thing and maybe people can discuss after. We’re bringing more food in and maybe people can stay a little bit longer and network. One of the things that we were thinking about when we planned this event was the idea of pitching about yourself or the work that you do to your supervisor. Is that different at all in your minds than pitching a venture or your service?
Valerie: I’m not sure that I understand your question.
Monica: I kind of get your question and the answer is no it’s not different at all. There are a lot of angels and VCs who really don’t care very much about the product, but really like the person pitching in front of them. And will invest in that team or that person. So no it’s not totally different. You’re still saying, “This is why you need to look at me, and this is why you need to consider giving me the time and money.”
Valerie: I think that really goes to that soft side of networking that you want to find a common interest. If you come to me and ask me to fund you company. I don’t know whether to trust you or trust your company, because we don’t necessarily have anything in common, but I always try to find like, “What are your outside interests?” Like I’m an active sailor. If you’re a sailor I want to have a conversation about sailing because I want to see how you’re in that. Because in a way you’re going to be caught off guard and I can see you passions. And its almost like the greatest lie detector because all of a sudden your mind if off of selling me. So I always like to try to find those other common interests.
Audience member: I just read somewhere recently, because I have this sort of aversion to networking, that said that all it’s about is just making friends. If you approach it as just finding something common, eventually it will get around to what you do. It takes the edge off, at least for me, of the goal. And for the person that you’re talking to too it’s got to feel the same way.
Valerie: What was it? That 60-70% of all networking is non-consensual? [laughter] So I know what you’re talking about. You can’t be just in-your-face. It’s got to be genuine.
Monica: I have a few colleagues. I have a lot of friends. Those are friends that I have built a relationship with and I have done things for them so that they feel like they can always call me. And vice versa. There are a lot of people that I feel like I can call on a moment’s notice. That’s how I chose to keep my network.
Audience member: Also something that I just heard recently is that the best way to make a contact is to find out what you can do for that person. Then it becomes a lot more of a give and take type of relationship as opposed to going and asking the person.
Elena: On that note, we can practice some of that for a little bit longer. I know there is so much more to talk about and people have questions. They will be here for a little while. They have also been very kind to offer their feedback and information to you after the fact. So we will be following up with you via email. We have a survey that we want you to fill out for us. So there are other opportunities. But if we don’t break now you guys won’t have the opportunity to ask your questions. I just want to say thank you so much to both of you for being here this evening. I have a little token for you. [applause] I also want to take a moment and thank out three pitchers. I think you guys were so fabulous. Little parting gifts for you. [applause] I’m standing in between the actual fun and you, so I’m going to make this short. My name is Elena Thomson. I work in central alumni relation at Hopkins and Ridia Anderson and I are partners in crime in developing a new program around affinity engagement. We have this fabulous women in business affinity group that help put together this event. I want to say thank you also to Julia for coming up with this idea. But it’s all about trying to have a greater sense of community for Hopkins student and family and friends of Hopkins. The idea of connecting around common background, interests or passions. We have several other groups, and it’s a new program. If you are interested we have committee members from the women in business group. And if you have an idea for anything group that doesn’t exist we have postcards with our information. I want to thank all of you for braving the weather and bring here. I hope that it was valuable. I hope you are able to stay and have a little food and drink. Thank you very much