I attended the Converge Challenge 2017 Awards on the 28th September 2017 at the Glasgow Science Centre. I was a top 5 finalist in the Social Enterprise Category with my Social Enterprise Open Ears. The event was hosted by the Director of the Converge Challenge, Dr Olga Kozlova and consisted of a dinner and award ceremony. I travelled down to the Glasgow SEC and stayed at the Campanile hotel. It was a really nice day and I was feeling really confident about the whole thing. I knew that I had a good chance of winning and that it was a celebration of my efforts. I used this knowledge to calm my nerves. It was also nice to see my friends from the Converge Challenge again as I hadn’t seen them since June.
I don’t really like Glasgow as a city much, the atmosphere can be quite busy and aggressive I think so it was a nice relief when I finally got to my hotel room and could focus on getting everything ready for the evening ahead. I only managed to decide on a dress to buy the day before the event and after some quick modifications by my girlfriend I was actually pretty confident in the way I looked, which can be rare for me. I chose to walk to the venue as it was ‘only’ 10 minutes away, but sometimes I forget what heels are like. I got complimented on the way there which shot my confidence through the roof and put a big smile on my face.
So I turned the corner to reveal the Science centre and the whole area was swathed in cold blue artificial light. I realised this was from the massive billboards advertising the event. I had no idea they were going to be there and I was filled with pride at what I had achieved and really made me look forward to the event as a whole. I arrived very early and there were only two other participants there. This gave us the opportunity to have the necessary photos taken and to explore the venue some more.
I must say the Science centre scrubs up well. All the bar staff were dressed as cocktail scientists and showed us how to mix rainbow cocktails. We had free reign of all the cool science exhibits and overall just had a blast talking to a bunch of people. I spent most of my time talking to Ewan Robinson from ESS Holdings. He had done some background research and had some really interesting points of view on Open Ears too. After our mingling opportunity we were invited to dinner.
I was seated at table 18, named Resilience. I found this a nice coincidence as Resilience has not only been a theme of some of my University work but a family and life motto. I had a good chat with Jennifer Pearce, a graphic designer from Morton ward. This was particularly useful as it allowed me to gather insights about what it’s like to be a designer in the ‘real world’. I was also sitting next to one of the judge of the Social Enterprise Category, which was quite intimidating.
I enjoyed what the speakers, Sally Mapstone, Bob Keilier and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon had to say. They really delivered useful information for new Entrepreneurs like myself. I particularly enjoyed what Bob Keilier had to say about what content to have in your pitch. He said to work backwards from the customers point of view. As designers we usually like to talk about the design process and how we created our product/service. However this isn’t really what prospective customers are interested in. In reality they are interested in three things:
- What benefits does your product/service deliver for me?
- Why should I believe your claims?
- Why should I trust you?
I really love this way of thinking and I’ve been applying it to other pitches that I find to be of high quality and it works really well. Next time I need to deliver a pitch for Open Ears I’m certainly going to use this model of thinking, thanks Bob!
Overall I truly enjoyed the night. I met lots of people and got my business cards out there. I enjoyed the kind words from Brian McNicoll and the support of Dundee University. Unfortunately I did not take home a prize but Open Ears certainly benefited in other ways from the experience. The Converge Challenge has grown me as a person and as a budding Entrepreneur. I’m looking forward to improving Open Ears and rising to the challenge again next year!