There were six (6) entrants who made it through to the final day, from a field of sixteen (16). I managed to watch the presentations from five of the six finalists and was extremely impressed by all of them. Each team presented their business case in about a 40 minute time slot, answered questions and received feedback from the judges panel, which seemed fairly heavily loaded on the financial sector.
In the evening there was a meet and greet, followed by a dinner and dancing. As usual Janis and I were the last of the “older generation” to leave, and while tempted to get on the dance floor we decided to head out some time around 1am.
I was left with a number of impressions from this experience … so I’ll try to capture just a few.
1. The confidence and maturity of these young people was astounding. They were very accomplished presenters, who had gained good sales, marketing and general business experience in developing their ideas … and most have every intention of seeing them through to fruition.
2. Naturally there was disappointment amongst those who did not reach the finals, and those who felt they should have placed higher. We talked to a few of the students who were second guessing their business idea based upon some “tough” feedback. We told then that what they got was “opinions” from a few people, and that different people might well have had very different opinions. We also told them that if they believe in their idea then they should keep pushing it!
3. I found myself comparing my own background with these people. I have had some success, but later in life after a “slow start”. At their age, in fact older than most of them, I was just beginning to get serious about studying heading back to school after seven years in the Royal Navy! These young people have a tremendous opportunity ahead of them and they are going to be very successful.
4. The networking skills displayed by these students was impressive. Within a couple of minutes of arriving at cocktails we were the target of a barrage of questions! It didn’t let up for the whole evening.
5. The enthusiasm and attitude of these students was refreshing and contagious. If only you could bottle some of that energy!
6. This event is totally organized, and executed by a volunteer student group … so not only are the contestants impressive, so too are the organizers. They did a superb job!
Overall, as you can see I was very impressed, and as one of the other judges said … the future of business is in good hands, and with today’s economy we hope they get into the fray sooner rather than later!