In Monday’s National Post, I wrote about how the high-powered youth entrepreneurship program – developed for 36 students only – was successfully boarded by four more candidates. Rejected at the “Selection Weekend” in December 2010, they recovered from the shock and humiliation to make a successful pitch that eventually got them back into the program.
How do you fight back against rejection without making it sound like sour grapes? These four undergrads figured out the formula. They won over the reluctant organizers with a winning PowerPoint pitch that leveraged the program's own objectives and values; itemized the advantages accruing to The Next 36 (not to themselves); and shouldered all the risk.
It was a brilliant bit of sales and marketing, and only the Post got the story. You can read it here.
Last Friday, I played a small role in the latest "Selection Weekend" by moderating a panel of 2011 Next 36 grads. These kids have lived life in a fishbowl for the past year, building their own businesses in groups of four while under the watchful eyes of their fellow students, the Next 36 owners, mentors and investors, and even the press. Yet many have built businesses that look like they may succeed; and they are very articulate about what they’ve learned about launching startups.
I wrote up a summary of some of the panel’s best learnings in a blogpost for the Post, which you can read here.
Don’t bet the farm on the first business idea you come up with. Most of the 10 teams in the Next 36 changed their minds (and their business plans) during the first few months; some adopted new ideas and then threw them out three or four times. How can you tell when you’ve found the right idea? One panellist suggested, “When you know that you’d rather work on this plan than anything else.”
Finally, the Next 36 has just announced the 36 successful candidates for its 2012 program (which started Saturday). You can read their press release here.