Next Generation: What Comes Next?

Learn about scaling your business.

Join us as we dive deep into the aftermath of the competition and catch up with our teams to hear about their experiences and discover what lies ahead. Did any of the participants secure investors or unearth new opportunities? Are they venturing into other competitions for greater financial rewards, or have they decided to take a break from the high-pressure world of pitching? We’ll also reconnect with some familiar faces: Brad Burke, one of the organizers, and Mitra Miller, one of the esteemed judges, to gain exclusive insights into their reflections on this year's competition results. Get ready for a captivating episode filled with exciting updates and valuable perspectives!

Episode Transcript

[00:00:02] Sloane: We got through that as a team, and I think are stronger because of it.

Shiv: I still remember that being so anxiety-inducing.  

Alex: We're not approaching this like a hey, we're going to just try to get to the next funding round every time, right?

Kevin: To really succeed, you have to fail.

Julio: That's her superpower. Like when somebody else will be like, no, I'm done. I'm done. Like, let me rest. She's like, no, I gotta keep going.

[00:00:30] HOST (Andrea): Hi, and welcome to “This is Small Business: NEXT Generation” - a miniseries brought to you by Amazon, where we follow 4 student teams behind the scenes throughout the Rice University Business Plan Competition. You’ll hear all about their challenges, hopes, and fears as they prepare to pitch. And by the end of every episode, we’ll be pointing out key takeaways that will help you wherever you are on your business journey. I’m one of your hosts – Andrea Marquez.

[00:00:50] Mitch: And I'm your co-host, Mitch Gilbert, the co-founder of Oya Femtech Apparel, and a former Rice Business Plan competition competitor.

[00:01:00] HOST (Andrea): So this is the last episode of our miniseries. The competition is over. In our last episode we announced the winners and got updates on all our teams right after winners were announced. Unfortunately, none of our teams made it to the finals BUUUT Active Surfaces won two awards and Tierra Climate, founded by one of Shiv’s long-time friends (that’s Shiv from Active Surfaces), managed to make it to the finals. Sooo, Mitch how do you feel about the results?

[00:01:33] Mitch: Great. I feel like it was an interesting learning experience being both a competitor and now being behind the scenes. It sometimes makes me sad about the state of venture capital because I don't know how we can get it to be more diverse. It's very complicated. It made me feel hopeful because there were a lot of businesses who were doing really cool things. It was exciting to talk to so many students and see how excited they were about their [00:02:00] products and their businesses and it was also cool to go to Rice because I competed virtually. And so it was cool to meet people and see the energy surrounding the competition.

[00:02:15] HOST (Andrea): Yeah, talking to all these entrepreneurs really got me looking forward to seeing how they do in their future. Hopefully, they'll succeed! On this episode, we’ll be checking in with our teams after the competition to see how they feel about it and what they’re currently up to or what’s in their near future. Did they manage to snag an investor or more opportunities at the competition? Are they competing for more money elsewhere? Or are they hanging up their pitching capes? I’m so excited to find out! We’ll also check in with Brad, one of the organizers who you’ve heard from before, and Mitra one of the judges who you’ve also heard from before, to learn about their thoughts on the results of the competition this year. Here’s Brad Burke…

[00:03:00] Brad: This was my 23rd competition and so I've seen a lot of these and I think this is one of my favorites, if not my most favorite competition. Competitors said that they got really good feedback from the judges at the competition. One of them said in a 15-minute period during the practice round, they got more feedback and better feedback than they'd gotten in the weeks leading up to this competition. So they felt the quality of the feedback was really outstanding. And, and, you know, that's a whole part of the competition. We give away a lot of money and that's one thing. But we really want all the students to walk away and feel like they had a great experience, they learned a lot, and they met a lot of people who can help them make their companies be successful going forward. So it's not just about the money it's about the experience for the students. And they consistently walk away and they go, wow, this, I had a great experience and they met lots of people who will help them be successful going forward.

[00:04:00] HOST (Andrea): Yeah, and we've already heard from some of our competitors that the RBCP offers a lot more than just extra money to help with their business. But the money does help, like a lot, so for anyone who's looking to compete in a pitch competition, Brad has got some advice for you.

[00:04:18] Brad: Investors are looking for five or six things and a company that's solving a real problem that's easy to understand, that is a big problem with a big market and with customers who are willing to pay for it. So if you can, if those are about four things and if you can demonstrate those four things, I think it goes a long way. And then, you know, if you can demonstrate that your team is a strong team to found and create this company, I think that's a plus. And then you have to understand. How much capital that you need and how quickly an investor will get an exit. I think if you can do those five or six things really well, I think you can succeed at a competition. [00:05:00] And teams have to do a nice job, have to understand what their competition is. Sometimes their competition is just the status quo, and people don't like to change and you have to demonstrate that your solution, your product, your technology is enough better than what people are doing today or, or enough better than competition in order to have customers to change to you what you're doing and to adopt your product or your solution.

You know, there's a lot of economic turmoil going on right now, or concern about recession and concern about inflation. And you know, one piece of advice I would say is that even though there is economic uncertainty, it's often in times of economic uncertainty when some of the most successful startups are founded. I would encourage entrepreneurs to follow their passion and follow their idea. And even if they're not successful in the first one, that often makes them more investible for their second one [00:06:00] because they have learned from their success or learn from their failure. As you would guess, I'm a huge fan of founders and entrepreneurs and encourage them to go forward.

[00:06:15] HOST (Andrea): Here’s Mitra Miller:

[00:06:16] Mitra: R B P C is always my favorite event of the year, and this year did not disappoint. It was at least as good and perhaps better than ever, so it was pretty awesome.

My problem is I never have enough money to put in all the deals that I want to. I end up doing a few, but honestly, if I could invest in almost everything I would because the companies are coming up with so many great solutions that we need, business needs, the planet needs, people need. I wish I could do them all. My, my goal is to make enough money that I can invest in everything. That's my long-term goal. But overall, the winners were fantastic. [00:07:00] I think there were some that were super exciting. By the time you get to the end of the three days, you're very focused on the last seven. But the ones that don't make it are just too early. They still have exciting ideas, they have exciting technology.

So honestly, the way the R B P C prizes work is we meet the companies and we go into due diligence. So we will do additional research into the companies and see if we can agree on terms. So investing is a marriage. And it can be a very long marriage. I'm in deals that are now 10 years old, and they're not exiting yet. They're great, they're looking good, but we're talking about a 10-year relationship. So you and the founder need to make sure that this is a relationship you want to get into, especially at a super early stage.

[00:07:50] Andrea: And if you're looking to compete in the RBPC in the future, here's some advice from Mitra:

[00:08:00] Mitra: So there are a lot of different kinds of pitch competitions, some that are targeting companies that are looking for investment, some that are targeting companies that want advice and feedback. They may want marketing and exposure to the public. There are many different goals. At the Rice Business Plan competition, the instructions that we get from the leadership, Brad Burke and Catherine Santamaria is to vote for the companies that are the most investible. We're supposed to be wearing an investor hat, whether we are an investor or not. So I'm gonna answer in the context that going to R B P C, we're looking for the company that is the most investible. So advice to somebody who wants to get to a pitch competition like R B P C number one, understand the investor, try to turn around and stand on the other side of the table. And think about if I were an investor, what would I be looking for? Well, I'm looking for something that if I put my money into it, that they're able to use it efficiently, grow the company and get traction, and exit at some point so that the investor has a return.

[00:09:00] So the idea is a huge part of that, the timing in the market and this is the hardest thing to know. Is it the right time in the world for your idea to move forward? Is it too early? Is it too late, or is it exactly the right time? Number three is the leadership team. Are these the people with the fire in their belly who can take this forward and make it a great success? We look very, very much at that. And then of course the last one is will they be able to take it all the way through to the finish line? And that might mean raising additional capital, getting creative, pivoting the company so that they can take it all the way home.

So after you think about those things from the investor perspective, then you'll be able to build that into your pitch from the very beginning. Make sure that the whole idea when you're a founder is you need to have answers to all the questions that the investors are going to ask you ready to go, so that you can give them quickly and efficiently. [00:10:00] I think that's the biggest thing of all. And then just get excited and be ready to learn and take the feedback that you get because once you get to a competition like this, you're going to hear some things that you love and a lot of people complimenting you, and you're gonna hear some things that are tough love and are gonna be a lot harder to take, and you'll need to stay open and receptive and try to take it in the spirit that it was delivered.

[00:10:30] HOST (Andrea): This experience has been full of a lot of learnings for our teams, for us as hosts, and hopefully for you as a listener. To finish off and understand how the competition impacted our teams we checked in with all of them a couple of weeks after the competition. First up is Active Surfaces. If you don't remember, in our last episode we mentioned that Active Surfaces had another competition that they were competing in right after the RBPC and they won! So of course, we had to ask about that first.

[00:11:00] Rich: We actually swept house. We won every, every level that we could have. We got the MIT hundred K full winning, but also the audience award as well.

[00:11:10] HOST (Andrea): This just goes to show that every competition is different and loosing doesn't always mean that you have a bad business. And aside from their win, we've found out another little detail from them. Apparently Active Surfaces was so close to making it to the finals at the Rice Business Plan Competition.

[00:11:25] Shiv: They sent an email with like the, some of the prize winnings that we got cause we won the climate prize, which we were super excited about. In that same email, they're like, oh, you also won a cash prize cuz you made it to the semis. And you were third place in your room and therefore you get a certain amount. Cuz if you're fourth place, you get a different amount. If you're fifth place, you get a different amount.

[00:11:40] HOST (Andrea): They were so close, but hey that's an extra injection of cash into their business so it's a win-win! Anyway, here's some of their thoughts on the winning teams.

[00:11:50] Shiv: I'm happy a couple of climate ones made it too. The main reason Rich and I are both in this space overall is cause we care about addressing climate change in whatever way. [00:12:00] So as long as any of these folks are winning, not to be too political, but I think I like the idea of those people getting pressed.

[00:12:03] HOST (Andrea): And remember when Rich said that he was worried about how public the competition was and how that might influence investors opinions on Active Surfaces? Well..

[00:12:12] Shiv: Like now our LinkedIns are blowing up with like former MIT alum or just people in the climate tech VC space, DMing us saying, hey, I saw that you did well here. I saw you won the climate prize at RBCP, or I saw you won the hundred K. Like, how can we connect and work together? It's nice to not have to go and like cold reach people, but we can have people reach out to us, which is nice.

[00:12:32] Rich: The benefit of these sorts of competitions win or lose is press, right? It's getting your name out there and, and at the beginning of the startup journey, all you're really doing, probably a hundred percent of your, your effort is validating your idea. So with Rice, you know, I mean, we're unsuccessful in getting to the finals, but at the end of the day, right, like we're getting pinged a lot on people on LinkedIn who say like, Hey, we like the startup. We like the idea, like, let's connect. [00:13:00] Same thing with a hundred K. It's a point of validation and it's really nice that we won, but it's also, again, just like the main core benefit beyond the a hundred K or whatever prize winnings is, is that public appearance and presence. Those sorts of things has kind of like led into what we're doing now, which is we're sort of used that to leverage financing.

[00:13:25] HOST (Andrea): Aaaannd Active Surfaces has some exciting news...

[00:13:30] Rich: we're going to be venture backed. The first closing's the end of this month, and then there'll be a little bit of a closing after which, we ended up having the term sheet before we ended up going to Rice. When the full financing is in, it's gonna be a combination of people who know us before rice as well as people who met us after Rice as well. So that's kind of like the benefit of these sorts of competitions overall, right? Win or lose is that like you're getting your name out there and ultimately it's through those higher like secondary connections that that end up pushing you forward.

[00:14:00] Shiv: Being venture backed essentially means selling part of your equity or part of the company to venture capitalists who then value your company at a specific amount, give you a specific amount of money, and then that gives you 18 months to 24 months of runway to then go and build a business. And we're at the very early stage of that, getting our first venture financing. The entire point is to move faster. And specifically it means building out a team. It means getting access to manufacturing facilities. It means iterating on our product. It means getting a commercial pilot ready within two years, being able to do things we wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

[00:14:40] Andrea: And what are some benefits to being venture backed?

[00:14:45] Rich: It's multimillions of dollars cash injection, which allows us to hire is the biggest one. So that would allow us to go from us two to probably a team of like five, six engineers plus business staff.

[00:15:00] Shiv: One is, being venture backed now means that we can stop, not stop, but we can lower the amount of time that we spend pitching and spend more time building the business and hiring people and actually doing what we wanna do, which is making surfaces active. But the other piece of this is, Rice's business plan, and Rich kind of touched on this, there's over 400 judges that are potential investors, and our goal isn't to have 400 investors in our cap table. Our goal is to find people that believe in us, and that could just be a couple that end up reaching out to us. And the climate prize, I think was something that meant a lot because we knew they were genuinely interested in the idea. A, they're looking for climate specific technologies and there's like maybe five to 10 in the competition. So being the best of those is nice. But at the same time, I think the 25 K prize that we won was an investment prize. So they want a seat on the cap table. They want a seat in the investment for this round, but that's not what they're limited to. They don't have to do just 25 k and they are suggesting they may be interested or open to more. And I think that is what truly gets me excited.

[00:16:00] HOST (Andrea): Press is definitely a big component of these competitions. Both Mitch and Active Surfaces has talked about the benefits in previous episodes. So, Active Surfaces is doing well and I’m excited to see where they go. Next we’ll check in with DIA, but first, a message.

[00:16:22] HOST (Andrea): You're listening to This is Small Business Next Generation, brought to you by Amazon. I’m one of your hosts, Andrea Marquez, and along with Mitch Gilbert, we’re introducing you to the world of business plan competitions and learning about how to best pitch your business in a way that attracts investment, in the case of the Rice Business Plan Competition, teams are competing to win up to $350K towards their small business startups.

Did you know that nearly 60% of products sold in Amazon's store are from independent sellers - most of which are small and medium-sized businesses? If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or an early-stage small business owner, there are many resources that Amazon offers to help you succeed and grow. [00:17:00] One of those resources is the Amazon Small Business Academy where you can find the help you need to take your small business from concept to launch and beyond. You can strengthen your skills at no cost with live and on demand trainings, Q&As, events, and even find more This is Small Business Next Generation content. If you don’t know where to start, you can take the free self-assessment on the Amazon Small Business Academy site at

[00:17:30] HOST (Andrea): Alright, and we’re back with DIA.

[00:17:32] Sloane: I think I'm really glad that we went. It was a really valuable experience for Julio and I to learn pitching together. Just honestly, like learn more like the ins and outs of how each other work. As Julio said earlier, I. And I mean, it was, it was honestly also fun. Like we met some really great fellow entrepreneurs of the fellow teams. Our practice pitch was a little rough, but I think we really came in strong with our first real pitch and I think we were both really proud of that. [00:18:00] We were both flying pretty high after that. We didn't walk away with any of the big checks or prizes, but we, you know, I think we were proud of the pitch that we ended up putting.

[00:18:12] Julio: I'm a night owl, I do most of my research at night. What I can tell you is before you make an important pitch, try to get some sleep. I know it's hard. might have to go get those melatonin gummies or something, but it's worth it.

[00:18:30] Sloane: I would say some of the, like the really helpful feedback that we got was just really making it explicitly clear of what exactly our timeline was. So, being clear about our go to market strategy and that we sort of, we have this DOD angle that we're going to do and because it's DOD, there is going to be a dual use component of it with athletes and probably, you know, a fitness component, that is to get to our ultimate play of med tech, [00:19:00] but then also exactly walk them through how much time we're giving ourselves for the FDA play and that we're giving ourselves the exact standard of 80 months and showing them all of the steps to that process. Because the FDA is something that scares investors a lot. So I think that some very valuable feedback that we got and then implemented was that we said, just put on a slide, this is the timeline we're giving ourselves exactly average. And here are our steps one through five to get from A to B.

On some of the presentation style, it really was helpful. So the first one they really said come out from behind the desk. I think Julio was maybe fidgeting a little bit and you know they really gave us both some sort of just like own the space a little bit more and be confident in your pitch. I will say then we went in with that, with our second pitch and then we sort of received some Goldilocks feedback of saying like, well, don't be too confident, and so it was a little bit like, well, you can't have it both ways, guys.

[00:20:00] Julio: Like that is no reason to stop female entrepreneurs from trying to do. but I, I think I'm very proud of how Sloan handled it. I think both pitches went great and I do wanna be emphatic that it was not even most people like, but, but the fact that there's still people there who, who think that way is what worries me.

[00:20:25] Andrea: Brad did touch on this subject as well.

[00:20:30] Brad: There's a lot of dimensions to this issue. Um, and it's something that we think about often at the competition. Um, I, I would say that, and, you know, what's my perspective then, drilling down on the competition. I would argue that a hundred percent of founding teams should have women on their founding teams, because I think the data shows that when you have women who are part of a founding team, [00:21:00] The overall success rate of startups with women is higher than the success rate of, of startups that do not include women on the founding team that from the data that I've seen in the past.

I'm happy that we have 50 to 60% of our teams have women on them. Um, and that's good. I think it should be higher than that, and I'd like to see it continue to to increase. This year, I believe the number we, the number is now up to between 35 and 40% of our judges are women. This answer to that is simple. We, the objective is simple. That we ought to get, we need to get to 50% of our judges being women. But there's some things that have to be done upstream of that, which is we need more women, angel investors in the country, and we need more women, venture capital investors in the, in the country.

[00:21:50] Andrea: It adds another layer of understanding for the different hurdles that founders have to go through, especially as minority-owned businesses. Speaking of which, here’s Bilal from Unchained, a Black-owned business.

[00:22:00] Bilal: So we didn't end up, you know, advancing to the finals, but we did complete our team's objectives, which were to get more exposure to clients, which we met about three potential clients for Unchained there and that reached out to us after we pitched, and they were actually one of the judges in the room. So, although we didn't, you know, continue with prizes from the actual competition, we did receive like, the exposure we needed to bring on potential clients. And we also got exposure to a couple venture funds, one in Austin, Texas, and then there's another one in Louisiana, and they were very appreciative of our mission and wanted, you know, to be involved.

And then we also figured out how to pitch, our product confidently regardless of who the audience is in that sense. Like the ones who were receptive to it, understood, bought in. We didn't have to oversell the ones that didn't, you know, they just weren't ever going to. And so like, that just gave us our team, that confidence in knowing that it's not our product, [00:23:00] it's not the presentation, it's, you know, whoever this value would be added to, you know, is gonna accept it that way. So I feel like that's what we learned. We learned that regardless of, the outcome of the competition, we did gain value from participating. We did gain exposure and we did make connections. So that's, that's kind of how the event went.

The demographics of the judge room was, you know, mostly, you know, all, all white judges. I wouldn't say that like everybody wasn't receptive because the five that did, like, they didn't have an issue with how we were presenting what we were talking about. They provided resources, contacts. One was even a recruiter in the room that like was a recruiter in the industry for like 15 years. He came up to us afterwards and like actually talked about some of the things he faced so that's when we realized like it's not a race thing, it's a, you know, either you understand the value and understand the issue or you don't want to hear it. And so that's kind of like what we just gathered from it.

[00:23:55] Andrea: Talking more to the right people. I think that’s a valuable lesson across the board.

[00:24:00] Bilal: I'll say like this competition is like our graduation from pitch competitions. It's time to, you know, put on a tie and, you know, start, start running the company. This run was great. It gave me a lot of experience, a lot of reps, but I'm done with the reps, you know, I have an actual, product, business team to, you know, continue figuring out. So like, I feel like that's what it symbolized for me in my journey is like, I've done a lot of these, this being the, the biggest, you know, coming here, giving it my all, giving everything I knew about it, doing what I had to do. And like you said, walking away with wins. So at this point I feel like this competition is just like, it just symbolizes the end of a chapter, and the beginning of a new one.

[00:24:45] Andrea: I'm really hoping that Unchained will go on to be a successful and profitable business moving forward. And now, let's hear from our last team, Outmore Living:

[00:24:50] Kevin: We got great feedback from a lot of the judges, both positive and negative. So a lot of the judges said very great things about us, [00:25:00] told us we were on the right path and just keep at it. Some of the negative stuff was largely around, you know, business model, different approaches we could take there, some of our go-to-market strategy. Nothing that we haven't heard before, we haven't talked about before, so it was largely feedback we've gotten at different points or thought of ourselves. And at the end of the day, Alex and I feel really confident about our strategy. The team of advisors and investors we've put around us feel really confident about our strategy.

[00:25:30] Alex: We're creating a new category so, you know, the typical like, investor heuristic is like, is it like defensible and does it offer some competitive advantages? Is this the right team to go build on the product? Is solving this problem worth it? We have to do all of those things and we have to convince people and help them see like, a future that doesn't exist, right? And it's hard for Kevin and I to make that real and we've been thinking about this every day for a year and so I, [00:26:00] I think when we're introducing an entirely new category, something that doesn't exist, there's that additional hurdle, that for some judges, and some investors and potential people, customers there, they get it right away. They love it, they see it. And others, for whatever reason, maybe we didn't do a good enough job of explaining it, maybe they just don't particularly enjoy outdoor furniture, outdoor living, whatever it may be, whatever the reason is, didn't see it. And I don't think Kevin and I appreciated necessarily the challenge of introducing a new category, right? Like someone who's never even heard of this idea whatsoever, doesn't exist in the world, that like sort of ramps up the difficulty a even more.

[00:26:38] Kevin: There was some feedback that I think was related to just like a lack of knowledge with our industry, which is expected. Like there aren't really that many furniture startups. And so even within the consumer niche, like, sector of the judges, there weren't that many, if any, that have interacted with furniture, right? So like there's that barrier we have to overcome, but I think that also we got some great feedback from some of the women judges that were in our first round [00:27:00] like around design certain preferences there that ended up being super helpful for us. It would've been great to win, but I didn't leave it like thinking. Oh my God, we should have won that thing. I left it thinking we could have won it, and there was also a lot of great co companies there, so, yeah.

[00:27:20] Alex: I don't think there's any way to come out of this, like worse off. You are forced to refine your story. And prepare in such a way that makes you understand your business better. You have the opportunity to have a life changing night, like Zaymo, you could meet your next lead investor. All of these sorts of things. I, I mean, I'd be lying if I said that like, it wasn't like a pretty like emotional... it really, it stung to like, not even move on to the semi-finals. Right. Like, we were planning and preparing and, and trying our best to do that. I think in general it's a matter of getting over like a fear of like rejection that is super necessary to build the thick skin, persistence, some might call hardheaded stubbornness [00:28:00] that it takes to like be an entrepreneur and change the way the world is to some extent. And the reason that's tough it is because, you know, this is an idea that Kevin and I have put our stake in the ground and said, we think this is such a good idea, and we've put so much effort into it that we are going all in on this. We want to devote the next decade plus our life's work to making this idea reality. And so when you're that vulnerable to then be told implicitly, not explicitly, but being told implicitly, like, these other ideas we think are better than the one that you are hitching your wagon to, it's a little scary. But now since then, it's like, okay, onto the next, now we're just gonna go build a company. Right. Would it have been amazing if we were a finalist and, and won? Absolutely. Does it change the chances of success that Kevin and I believe we have? No.

[00:28:50] Andrea: Rejection is part of the journey and knowing how to deal with it is super important to keep moving forward. I think that RBPC really showed us that journey. [00:29:00] It seems like all our entrepreneurs are doing good regardless of how far they made it into the competition. And they all agree that even if they didn't win anything, the experience taught them a lot. It’s been great seeing everything behind the scenes from both the competitor’s side and the judge’s side. Mitch it’s been especially great to hear your perspective too.

[00:29:25] Mitch: This has been an awesome opportunity to get to know our teams, to get to know you as a co-host, to get to know the Rice team, judges and staff. And I hope you all as listeners have learned or gotten a more intimate understanding of what it takes to succeed at these business plan competitions and in venture capital as both a heavily represented founder and an underrepresented founder. And I think it's important to remember regardless of if things may be difficult for you as an underrepresented founder. [00:30:00] It is so important to continue trying business, especially small businesses are an extremely great way to build generational wealth and capital and to be able to support a family and also your employees and really grow America. So regardless of how hard it is, I hope you learn some specific nuggets to help make things a little bit easier and that you continue to try because if you continue to try, you're going to be better. You're gonna make everybody else better around you, and I'm rooting for you.

[00:30:42] Andrea: Couldn’t have said that better myself. That's such a lovely way to end the last episode of the This is Small Business: NEXT Generation. I learned so much and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without you by my side Mitch, so thanks for being here! And why don’t you take it away and give us your big three takeaways:

  • [00:31:00] Mitch: One. Be gritty and patient. Use every resource that you have at your disposal. It's gonna take everything that you got. And if you're an underrepresented founder, you can't get frustrated by the rooms that you're not going to. It's not gonna be easy for you to walk into. Yeah, it can be frustrating, but you have resources too, and never forget that.
  • Two. If you're even showing up in those rooms, you have your own talent and so don't isolate yourself. Continue to rely on a network, and I would also say get some co-founders. Being a founder is a very lonely experience and there's a lot going on, so having a co-founder who can watch your back is really helpful.
  • Three. Judges find it hard probably to really rank charisma on a sheet of paper. But charisma is really important when you're a founder. Like you have to be a person that people see themselves in you, [00:32:00] like you are a person of the people. You inspire them, they want to hang out with you, they want to be your friend. They wanna support you and help get you to the next level. You have to build a business that people wanna rally behind.

[00:32:15] Andrea: Every episode of this miniseries has important lessons learned and takeaways, so make sure to go back and give them all a listen. And if you want to continue this journey of learning and leveling up, make sure to subscribe and stay up to date with our regular This is Small Business episodes.

And with that, we’d love to hear your stories wherever you are in your journey. Whether you're about to start your own business, in the process of it, or maybe even getting ready to pitch your business in a pitch competition. Reach out to us at to tell us what you're up to. Or let me know what you think of the episode by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts – it’s easier if you do it through your phone. And if you liked what you heard -- I hope you'll share us with anyone else who needs to hear this!

[00:33:00] If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, and I hope you are if you’re listening to This is Small Business. Or maybe you already have your small business up and running and you’re ready for the next step. A super valuable resource that can help you is the Amazon Small Business Academy where you can find the help you need to take your small business from concept to launch and beyond. Take the free self-assessment on the Amazon Small Business Academy site at

This is Small Business: Next Generation is brought to you by Amazon with technical and story production by JAR Audio. I’m one of your hosts, Andrea Marquez –

Mitch: And I'm your co-host, Mitch Gilbert.

Andrea: Hasta luego and thanks for listening! [00:33:36]


Business Model

Also Available On

Share with Friends