“What is your horizon, your ultimate goal?” asked Veena Prasad, SVP Fast Pitch alum and founder of Project Feast. Veena joined this year’s Fast Pitch kick-off meeting to share her experience as the 2013 SVP Fast Pitch Startup Nonprofit Winner.
Her reflections were both encouraging and inspiring for the 21 semifinalists who attended the event at Impact Hub Seattle late last month alongside coaches, event sponsors, and SVP staff. Veena likened the Fast Pitch journey to a bumpy boat ride. “Keep the eyes on the horizon,” she advised but added that despite some ups and downs and plenty of jitters, the journey was well worth it. “In the end, we killed it!” she said with a big smile.
This year, SVP Fast Pitch, which highlights the work of social entrepreneurs and innovators, is piloting an inclusive cohort model. The August event kicked off a series of work sessions where innovators and coaches will gather every other week to practice pitches, learn, and grow until the final showdown and innovator expo at University of Washington’s Kane Hall on November 10. The meetings will give the contestants the opportunity to rehearse their 5-minutes pitches in front of a larger audience with both verbal and written feedback from the group. Each pitch will be recorded and shared, and in the off weeks, the contestants will meet one-on-one with their coaches to further refine their pitches. The meetings will also give the participants increased opportunities to network with mentors and peers.
The 2018 kick-off meeting was a great success and set the stage for another promising season for SVP’s flagship program.
Innovators and their coaches were seated around small tables where they immediately launched into conversation about an innovator’s journey. By the time Program Manager Jaimisa Gourley opened the evening, the room was already buzzing with energy and excitement. Jaimisa shared an overview of SVP Seattle and the Fast Pitch program. SVP Seattle CEO Solynn McCurdy followed with an inspiring speech about SVP’s values and goals. Later, Dwight Krossa, a long time Fast Pitch coach, shared the principles of good coaching — a particularly helpful presentation for first time coaches.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin, founder of The Storytelling Non-Profit, headlined the session by leading this year’s cohort and coaches through the challenging task of transforming a 5-minutes business pitch into a compelling story. She emphasized the importance of clarity of concept and advised the participants to weave their pitch narratives around who, what, why, how, outcome, and why now. She reminded us that in the end, the details and the emotions make the story. She invited the innovators to do an impromptu rehearsal, and two of the participants bravely jumped right in to big applause from the audience.The evening ended with a happy hour which allowed for plenty of networking and further conversations between mentors and peers.
Only 10 of the 21 semifinalists will go on to present their pitches at the final event on November 10] in front of more than 700 audience members. However, the new cohort model amplifies what Fast Pitch is really about – learning and connecting throughout the program and beyond. There is no doubt that regardless how the innovators place in the competition, the real value lies in program participation. Becoming a winner is just a bonus.
Tove Hoyer is a marketing professional who is dedicated to helping area nonprofits reach their full potential through mentorship and coaching. She joined Fast Pitch as a team coach this year and will be sharing her experience throughout the 2018 season.