Pitching a Sustainable Business Plan in 90 Seconds?
Announcing the Winner of the Walmart Quick Pitch Challenge
Walmart execs judge the Quick Pitchers
Think quick: You’ve got 90 seconds to convince a panel of sustainability experts that your business idea to build houses in Haiti is worth twenty grand. Welcome to the annual Walmart Quick Pitch Challenge. Nine students put their sustainable business ideas on the line during this rapid-fire session at the 2012 Net Impact Conference, hoping to pitch themselves into the finals of the popular Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge. The stakes? Twenty thousand dollars in seed money to turn their plan into reality (not to mention bragging rights).
Each team was given invaluable feedback from the Walmart judges, who included Katherine Jennrich (Senior Manager, Energy Services), Rob Kaplan, (Senior Manager, Sustainability), and Jim Stanway (Senior Director, Global Supplier Initiatives). Four teams were selected as finalists, and one was deemed the winner with the most thoughtful, viable presentation.
“I always find things like these a little nerve wracking,” says finalist Minnie Fong about pitching her idea for Fresh Picks, which would deliver healthy and affordable meals to rural office workers.
“It opened doors for people to come speak to me about their suggestions, ideas, and insights that have helped me with my business.”
Nerves are ultimately overshadowed by the prospect of getting a business idea directly in front of Walmart execs, while fine tuning the elevator pitch that’s so critical to securing funding. These competitors know there aren’t any free passes just because their businesses have a social or environmental focus; they have to jump through the same hoops as other business pros. “I'm really glad I put myself out there, and received the feedback that I did,” Minnie says. “It opened doors for people to come speak to me about their suggestions, ideas, and insights that have helped me with my business.”
But like all of our competitions, it’s not only the students who benefit. Understanding what issues are most important to tomorrow’s business leaders helps Walmart shape and prioritize its own initiatives. Judge Jim Stanway explains: “The Quick Pitch is a great way for Walmart to build relationships with ambitious students and give them support in their efforts to change the status quo.”
So who walked away the winner of this year’s Quick Pitch? Ryan Scott’s pitch for Barrels of Hope, which provides low-cost and low-maintenance housing solutions for disaster victims in Haiti, took top honors.
"The Walmart Quick-Pitch challenge not only gave me an opportunity to get valuable feedback from three business veterans on a project that I've poured my heart and soul into,” says Ryan, “it also gave me a rare chance to practice my public speaking skills in front of a packed room of peers."
Barrels of Hope supplies disaster victims with its Rain Barrel Kits, which include the building blocks of a 10’x10’ structure ultimately assembled from locally-salvaged material. It also provides locals with a Team Lead to manage the build. The rain barrel allows for getting materials into as many hands as possible; those survivors can then produce the kits themselves, creating a cycle that will ultimately result in economic redevelopment.
Because Walmart was so impressed by Ryan and the finalists’ solution-based ideas, they’ve each secured a coveted spot in the upcoming Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge, where they’ll compete for a trip to the Walmart Home Office and $20,000 in seed funding. But the competition is fierce. In fact, if you have a business idea and would like to join these finalists, you can still sign up for the 2013 Challenge.
Congratulations to the finalists!
Quick Pitch Winner | Ryan Scott, University of Washington
Barrels of Hope sells safe and sustainable homes in a rain-barrel at half the cost of alternative post-disaster solutions.
Daniel Heyman, MIT
Bureh creates belts out of local materials in Sierra Leone. Their plan includes training for skilled labor and reinvesting their profits into small businesses in Sierra Leone.
Minnie Fong, UC Berkeley
Fresh Picks tackles the obesity crisis & improves productivity by providing fresh, healthy, affordable lunches to everyday office workers.
Adam Taylor, Boston University
Adam’s NGO in Brazil will be producing ethanol from cassava, bringing a new economic opportunity to rural farmers.