“How different is this presentation from the one you’ve shown yesterday?”
We were already at the Q & A portion of the last round of the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) regional finals in Bangkok when one of the judges asked us this question. As if on cue, the five of us chuckled simultaneously, on stage and in front of about a hundred people. Obviously, our presentation was in no way reminiscent of yesterday’s first pitch.
It all started with Ignite, an AIM intra-school business competition held from October to November where we were made to pitch a start-up idea to solve a chosen social problem. The five of us – Aaron, Jomer, Pat, Mel, and Adriann – came from three different teams. After three intense Ignite rounds, two pairs finished as runners-up and we initially thought that that was the end of it. Little did we know, it was only the beginning.
A week before the December application deadline of GSVC, we decided to merge all three teams and submit all three ideas for more chances of winning. At that time, with the clock about to strike the midnight deadline, we did confess to each other that submitting all three applications was a crazy idea. But, crazy as we are, we just went ahead and did it.
Come January, much to our surprise, one of our applications – Land Title Solutions – qualified for the Southeast Asia regional finals. It was unexpected when, of the three ideas, it seemed to have been the farthest from being a social venture. We took this surprise as a challenge and started preparing for Bangkok – camping in school during the weekends, sacrificing the term break, and basically, committing to seeing each other day-in and day-out. We underwent long weeks of pitching to our AIM professors, mentors, and the GSB admin, all the while creating many, many iterations of that one pitch deck. GSVC Pitch Deck (Version 3)_Final.pptx. During that pitch to the faculty, they even threw us a curveball and asked us to do a 60-second pitch, a presentation we were unprepared for. In Prof. Rocky’s words, “well, that was a fail”.
Competition week came. While juggling the requirements of the subjects we will be missing and adjusting to the workload of Term 2, we were then off to Bangkok. Up to the last minute before the submission of the pitch deck deadline, the five of us were still practicing the pitch, pinning down the social impact metrics, finalizing the operational flow, and computing for financial projections. Coming into the first pitch, our team felt confident with our presentation and assumed that we were ready until the pitch felt like the longest ten minutes of our lives. The presentation got disorganized because of missed cues, and the panel challenged the idea aggressively during Q & A. Safe to say, we were ready to go home to Manila empty-handed.
The idea had massive potential, apparently, that it got us through to the next round when we had to do yet another pitch. We were able to meet with the three judges for feedback during the afternoon, and their feedback was incredibly significant that it pushed us to pivoting our business idea altogether. We spent the entire night (6 hours of it!) doing an overhaul to the idea – reframing the problem, re-assessing the social impact, re-computing financial projections. We were, yet again, just-in-time for the submission, and very, very sleep-deprived and exhausted. GSVC Pitch Deck_FINAL FINAL.pptx.
Just going through the entire competition process and gathering feedback from the judges, no matter what the results held, already made us feel like winners. In fact, an angel investor and a director of a prominent conglomerate in Southeast Asia expressed interest in the venture, and we were already beyond ecstatic! During our last night in Bangkok, we attended the concluding awarding ceremony without expectations and just extremely grateful for the learning experience and the network we were able to build. We’ve already come a long way from pitch deck version 1 and we have grown so much individually and as a team. We were so excited to go home, to thank all our classmates for the support, and to re-tell our countless pivoting in Bangkok.
At about half past 8:00pm, over glasses of wine and beer, the host then announced, “The winner of the 60-second pitch is Land Title Solutions!”. Right after Aaron received his award, the host exclaimed “The winner of the GSVC SEA Finals is Land Title Solutions!” Who knew that this social venture to help land owners utilize their lands as a means to carve a path out of poverty would eventually be a reality in-the-making? The next step is bringing this idea to an even bigger stage – in Milan, Italy (!) – and hopefully, bagging the $40,000 grant to reach more and more land owners. That is the vision, after all, and our team of five is grateful, terrified, and excited all at the same time. Italy, here we come!
The team wishes to thank everyone who has helped in the journey of Land Title solutions: our families, our Learning Teams, our AIM mentors and professors (Prof. Rocky Lee, Prof. Titos Ortigas, Prof. Ricardo Cruz), the GSB Administrative staff, and our MBA classmates.
Words by Melissa Balmaceda, MBA 2018
Photos from IDE Center facebook page and Melissa Balmaceda