This blog was written by Bernadette Palombo, the founder of the Event Professional Journal, who was one of the finalists of IBTM World’s 2019 Event Business Accelerator competition.
It all began when I got the call from David at IBTM World to let me know that I was a finalist for the EBA programme in 2019. From that very moment, it was clear that IBTM would support all finalists fully throughout the process and that it was a friendly, supportive group of people.
My submission to EBA was for an idea, not a business that already existed. I wanted to turn a method of journaling I used into a wellbeing solution that was available to all event professionals, now known as the Event Professionals Journal. Within 7 weeks it went from idea stage into a business. It was a steep learning curve but an enjoyable one!
IBTM paired me up with a fantastic mentor, Ingrid, who holds all of the same values as I do. We had several calls where Ingrid would talk me through various things, and she was a really good bouncing board for any ideas, worries or help that I needed. Having a mentor definitely helped me with the process and having her there in the audience whilst I delivered my pitch was really reassuring after she had been so involved in getting me to that point.
We had calls with all of the finalists together, which was really lovely because we then got to all get to know each other. At no point did it feel like we were all competing with one another, instead there was always an overwhelming feeling of support, and that continued when we were at IBTM World too. These calls would be delivered by all of the mentors and would focus on different areas that assisted with the skills we needed to develop in order to make us all more prepared and confident to deliver our pitch.
Below is what I did to prepare myself for the pitch, and some tips that you can take on board:
- I inputted all of the dates for IBTM EBA calls and workshops into my diary, making it a priority over anything else that was already scheduled. Attending these calls at the time they were scheduled, instead of watching a recording, made a huge difference as you can ask questions and interact. Make notes and implement the tips!
- From the moment you get the call to say you are a finalist to the moment that your pitch is finalised, there will be many things that come into your head that you might want to include in your pitch. Get them all out of your head and write them down.
- Your mentor is there to help – make use of that! If you are struggling with a certain aspect, nervous or just need someone to bounce off, just pop them a message.
- I can’t take credit for this one – it was my mentors’ suggestion! I wrote down absolutely everything that I might want to mention in my pitch. I got different coloured post-it notes and used one colour for each different main topic i.e. market research, finance etc. From that, I could see where I was duplicating but also narrow down to what really was important to mention. The rest is still great to keep in mind, but you have a short period of time to get the pitch across and you want to make sure you mention the important bits.
- From the above point and the scoring sheet that IBTM provided me with, I planned out a structure of my pitch so that I could begin putting it together to a finalised version.
- Get your pitch down to the most finalised version, and then practise it – a lot! Time it each time to make sure you are within the time limit given, make changes if needed, record yourself, practise in front of people that will make you feel most uncomfortable (usually friends and family!), learn it. I think it is best if you can avoid using prompt cards on the stage.
- I researched the judges to learn as much as possible about them. I looked at their LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds, just to get an idea of what kind of people they were, what their interests are and the companies they work for or own. I read the bios that IBTM provided us with. All of this helped as, when I was pitching, I didn’t feel that they were strangers judging me, I felt I knew them.
- Prepare yourself for the questions that the judges may answer. When you practice your pitch in front of others, get them to ask you questions. Do a google search on what questions investors or mentors might ask in a pitch.
- Before starting your pitch – breathe. Take a minute or 2 away from the expo and breath, clear your mind, and tell yourself how you are about to smash your pitch!
- As my pitch began, I gave each judge a copy of my business plan which was bound and laminated, as well as a leaflet I had created that included the key points of my pitch. I did this so that they had something to look back on when making their decision, and it went down really well.
- The most important thing throughout is to remain authentic, be honest and don’t expect a harsh environment or personalities like a dragons den!
For more information on the 2020 competition, including how to apply and T&Cs, please see https://www.ibtmworld.com/Whats-on/ibtm-accelerate/event-business-accelerator/