The first day of the competition, March 7, finally arrived, and the efforts that we had been putting in for months were about to be on display. Going into the first day of the Cup, although we were certainly happy with our product and the preparation that we conducted, there was an air of uncertainty around the group. I wouldn’t say that we were nervous, as we were comfortable with what we accomplished in our pitch and technical demo. It was more so that we had never participated in a similar competition and we didn’t know what to expect from those around us, the judges, or the general environment of the Cup.
After we arrived and got together we, like many of the other groups competing, continued to practice our pitch in hopes to ensure a strong performance. I believe that this practice helped improve our confidence going into the competition and fine tuned our presentation as a whole. Leading up to the opening ceremonies we made every effort to keep our energy high and our moods light. We talked to one another about how we are simply going to perform to the best of our abilities without holding any expectations for the outcome. This limited the amount of tension that our group would have had and allowed us to perform to our utmost potential.
Next, we met one of our Tech Under Twenty mentors and together we entered the room where opening ceremonies were being conducted. After seeing the schedule and noticing that our group was presenting earlier in the day, we were all excited to show the judges the Bumi app.
The format of the first presentation included the pitch, the technical demo and a 10 minute Q&A session, conducted in a room of only judges. We presented with confidence and belief in our product, and I feel that the ease we had as a group greatly contributed to the overall presentation. After the Q&A session with the judges, we were given detailed feedback on what we did well and what we should look to improve upon.
With the presentation completed, we were just awaiting the technical interview. This interview was certainly the greatest challenge that we faced. This was because there were few concrete steps that we could take in order to better prepare ourselves for the interview other than practicing potential questions and gaining more experience with our product. Most questions that we asked each other were about the creation of the app, such as “What software did you use to build this app?”, and “What are some problems that you ran into while creating the prototype, and how did you solve them?” Questions like these helped us a lot as we were able to gain some practice answering technical questions, and this calmed our nerves. However, as the technical interview was certainly uncharted territory for us, we found that this challenged our ability to keep a positive attitude, not knowing how the interview was going to go. Nonetheless, we still made an effort to keep our attitudes positive and our environment stress-free.
We had some time between the pitch and the interview, and we took advantage of this by meeting other Cup participants and learning more about their products. This was one of our favourite aspects of the Cup, the ability to engage with peers who have similar interests.
Near the end of our break, we decided to go to the location of our interview early. We waited for the group inside to exit the room and we were swiftly seated to begin the interview. The interviewers posed many questions that required us to think deeply about our product and although we were able to answer these questions with the experience that we had, by the time we awaited feedback we began to lose confidence in our performance. Many points brought up in the judges feedback were facets of our app that we realized needed much more thought. We were proud of our product, being our first attempt, but were not as confident with our placement in the competition.
Once the interview was over we attended a workshop where we were able to hear guest speaker, Sean Cornelius, talk about his experiences as a young entrepreneur, and this was a very inspirational workshop to attend. Once the workshop and closing ceremonies were over, we left the building, unsure of whether we would return the next day as finalists.
To our surprise, later that evening we received a message on the Tech Under Twenty Discord Server informing us that we were among the pitch finalists. The finals were set to be held the next day for 6 Pitch Finalists and 3 Tech Finalists, and the pitches were to be presented in front of the entire Cup. We were all extremely proud of our efforts simply being finalists, but we were more motivated than ever before to make our mark at the Cup. When we arrived the next day we had even more confidence in our product and we were ready to present. Presenting in front of everybody was certainly a different experience but we were ready for this change as we had all presented in front of larger groups before. As finalists, we had the opportunity to win a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place prize which would include funding to continue on with our project. Additionally, Geotab had set a challenge to build an app where users could track greenhouse emissions, and the winners would receive a summer internship for every member in their group. We presented the pitch again and we believe we performed to a higher caliber than we did the day before as we were more comfortable with our presentation. We watched the pitches of the other groups and were thoroughly impressed by their unique ideas and prototypes. By the end of the presentations we weren’t sure if we would place ourselves, but we were inspired by everyone’s work. When the judges announced, “Team Bumi,” as the winners of the Tech Under Twenty Cup Geotab Challenge, we were shocked but elated.
The Tech Under Twenty Cup proved to us how valuable hard work and a willingness to learn is in achieving your goals. Prior to the Cup we worked to prepare ourselves while knowing that we would be at a disadvantage due to our lack of expertise, however, this didn’t hinder the efforts that we put in. Furthermore, while creating our product we took every opportunity to learn more about improving our work. We worked on delivering an effective pitch by practicing in front of others, understanding their feedback, and altering our product to accommodate this feedback. At the competition we persevered through the major challenge of having less experience than our peers by having confidence in our abilities and the work that we had done up until the Cup. Our preparation allowed us to perform well at the competition and we were rewarded by winning the Geotab Challenge. Overall, the Tech Under Twenty Cup was a wonderful experience which taught us many lessons such as the importance of determination and constant effort. By the end of the Tech Under Twenty Cup, we were extremely proud of our results and we were looking forward to beginning our first internship at Geotab.
By: Madhav Satija