During the 1776 Challenge Cup at 1871 Chicago, we watched 19 entrepreneurs pitch their startups in a race against time — and here’s what we learned.
Imagine that James Bond is dangling above a pool filled with man-eating sharks circling in the waters below. And that the only way for him to keep from plunging to certain doom is if he’s able to sell a group of skeptical onlookers huddled in plastic chairs on every important, interesting and valuable thing that there is to know about his job.
In just two minutes.
Could he pull it off?
Now, imagine that it isn’t James Bond — but, rather, a scrappy startup entrepreneur, perhaps much like yourself — who’s facing the same tricky circumstances and time constraints, only it’s the fate of your fledgling business that’s hanging in the balance.
Could you pull it off?
If that assignment sounds daunting — even if you really are 007 — well, then welcome to the 1776 Challenge Cup, an international tournament in which entrepreneurs from “the most promising, world-changing startups” face a Shark Tank of a different stripe (think Mark Cuban, not Ian Fleming) as they compete for cash prizes and a chance to share their vision on a global stage.
But only if they can first share that vision — and share it well — in 120 seconds, or less.
Last week, our team at AE Marketing Group was in attendance for the local round of the 1776 Challenge Cup inside Windy City startup incubator 1871 Chicago as 19 budding entrepreneurs competed for just three spots in the regional round, to be held March 3 in New York City.
Over the past five years since launching as a startup, we’ve pitched AE often — including our CoCreation Lab Series, which last summer won the Goldman Sachs Small Business 10,000 Rocket Pitch competition. At 1871, we sat huddled in those aforementioned chairs as each contestant stepped on stage in front of a panel of three judges and more than 100 onlookers to make their pitch. Some connected, while others fell short. But every delivery provided valuable lessons about the do’s and don’ts of selling your brand fast — while still selling it well.
And to help connect other entrepreneurs with those tips on brand storytelling, we’ve compiled a list from the event.
Naturally, there are 007 of them.