Freshmen students pitch their business ideas in front of professional experts



December 20, 2018

It's December 18, 2018 and a lot of IB Freshman students are queuing up in the premises of HUB385 in Zagreb. You can see them standing in groups – some of them seem to be rehearsing, others are correcting those that are rehearsing, some are a bit nervous... Tension is in the air and we are curious to find out what is really going on here.

 

'Hey guys', says Dr. Maja Vidović, International Business program faculty that teaches one of the most interesting courses in the freshman year: Business 1. 'Are you here to see our students pitch their ideas?'

Ok, now we're really interested. We ask the professor to tell us more about it. 'Well, this is the grand finale of our Business 1 course. Our Freshman students have been working in teams throughout the whole semester developing a business idea. They needed to define their product / service, decide who they would sell it to, how they would do it, what they need for the whole operation and finally, they would have to pitch it to professionals. They needed to develop a 1-minute long presentation of their work, more popular as the 'elevator pitch' and we are about to start with the pitches now.'

We enter the room and see Manuela Mrkajić, one of our Career Advisors. Experiential learning is an integral part of the education experience at RIT Croatia and our Career Services Office is very much engaged in all aspects that can contribute to enhancing such experiences for our students. 'Time is everything, the greatest asset for everyone, and especially for CEOs, top management and investors.', says Manuela and says that delivering a good pitch is not that easy. 'We are working on teaching students how to say a lot in minimum amount of time – in one-minute pitch in this case. Today it is not enough only to have great presentation skills or to be familiar with public speaking principles. It is important to be proficient in selecting the content, to be time effective and to leave a good impression. We are teaching our students today how to be great entrepreneurs tomorrow.'

Finally, we see the jury members: Scott Coleman, cofounder and COO of TDA, Diana Mudrinić, EU funding and project manager, HUB385, Kristian Ravić, expert consultant at Zagreb Innovation Center, and Andrej Šarić, cofounder of ENUM software and lecturer, RIT Croatia. They listened to 27 teams (that is 146 students) present their ideas in an interesting way, explain the benefits and close the pitch with a key message. There were a lot of sweaty palms, trembling voices, but all of the teams completed their assignments successfully.

‘This goal of this course is to teach students to successfully develop their ideas.’, says professor Vidović. ‘When they see the purpose as well as the application of what they have been learning, then all of the sudden, it all makes more sense to them and they become more motivated to really learn. After having literally ‘living’ with their business ideas for whole 10 weeks, students become more connected and personally invested in it. Hence, they do not simply read about available funding sources, but look for additional information which will help them make the funding decisions based on what suits their ideas best. In that particular moment, they are not passively receiving information, but are actively looking for it, meaning, they are not simply memorizing - they are actually learning!’

The professor and the jury were happy with what they saw. ‘I was impressed with the level of energy and professionalism students brought on the stage.', said one of the jury members, Kristian Ravić. 'Some pitches were executed at the highest possible level, and ideas that the students presented were pretty solid, some of which have a real market potential. Education focused on teamwork, critical and creative thinking is crucial for developing the skills that will be required in the future. Best of luck, and kudos to all ‘tigers’!'




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