The iQ program is a series of events that starts slowly, and then accelerates very quickly. It all starts with mentor meetings, followed by the application, and then the final pitch to get accepted to iQ. Then, a moment’s anticipation, then workshops, a flood of new ideas, constant networking, and barely enough time to breathe. All the while, you’re working on prototypes, building your business model, and then… you’re at the final investor pitch- standing in a room with a bunch of sharks waiting for you to impress them or else be ripped apart by questions you haven’t thought of answers to. The only reason that this isn’t as daunting as it sounds is that at each event, workshop, and pitch we have built up a family of friends going through the same trials and tribulations.
Let’s start at the first workshop of the iQ series, where each company made its first pitch to the group. There were stumbles, halts, redundancies and shortcomings, but what didn’t lack was comradery and enthusiasm. The feedback from both experienced entrepreneurs and fellow companies was candid but not ruthless and all around constructive. Each team took this feedback and used it to shape, mold, and perfect their pitch. The teams re-pitched the next week, then rinsed and repeated up to the very last workshop. We shared laughs and struggles, but in the end we all came out stronger.
Now let’s take a step forward to the investor pitch and the daunting moments in front of the sharks. What did all the practice and training lead to? It led to a daylong moment of realization of how far each of us had come. Stumbles were a rarity, and clarity was everywhere. Investors who hear pitches all day long said the pitches that day rivaled those of seasoned professionals. Not bad for only a couple months of work!
The investor pitch day is the smallest perk of the program; it’s more of an introduction to the world of fundraising and a chance to network. An even more important advantage gained comes from the lessons learned throughout the workshops. While entrepreneurship is too large of a subject to teach completely in only a few workshops, you learn a little something about every area. This exposure means that when you face some problem in the future you have at least a bit of an understanding and you know how to begin to tackle it.
The most helpful aspect of the program by far was the amazing group of mentors. Theo Marrinan of Eye Captcha sums up the experience perfectly when he says “It is a one of a kind experience, and the depth and breadth of knowledge present in the room during our session is astounding… The mentors really help you break down the momentous task of starting a business and start thinking realistically about your growth in terms of planning achievable steps and achieving those steps. The mentors will also do everything they can to help you. It’s an incredibly valuable experience and I am truly grateful to be part of the iQ family.”
In all, we walked into iQ naïve and walked out of the investor pitch day armed with an idea of how to face a diversity of problems, a network to face them with, and an iQ family to keep us strong throughout the process.
Steven Graf ’15
Alumnus, UConn School of Business
Steven Graf is a recent School of Business grad with a major in healthcare management. He is the former president of the UConn chapter of Global Brigades, a student-led organization that provides medical, public health, clean water, and environmental relief trips to countries such as Ghana, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras. With the goal of saving lives, Graf has embarked on an entrepreneurial venture to help patients receive the correct doses of their medications. View Posts