Last week, we celebrated the 4th anniversary of the very first session of Pitch Practice. It’s been a really fun and fast 4 years and 2,000 pitches. Pitch Practice has been one of those things that kind of happened by accident. I did not plan to be “that pitch guy” or to host dozens of people every Friday afternoon at a meetup. I had a need, asked others if they’d help, and 4 years later, it’s a thing. What’s really interesting is the number of times I have considered putting an end to Pitch Practice.

4 Years of Pitch Practice

We Make Time for What’s Important

Thats right, I’ve often thought about telling the incredible team at ATV, “Hey, it’s been a fun ride, but I really don’t have time to do this every Friday.” It really has been a fun ride, and I really do not have the time. But then things happen that make me wonder how I could ever think such a negative thought about this thing called Pitch Practice. It happens all the time.

In fact, two of those things happened yesterday! First, my friend and mentor Charlie Paparelli pulled me aside during Startup Chowdown and said these words:

You know, you really changed my whole paradigm with Pitch Practice. I meet with a lot of entrepreneurs looking for investment, and now I hammer them on articulating the problem that they are solving without talking about themselves.

What Charlie is referring to is the 3rd point in the Pitch Practice structure: “The Problem.” Here’s what happens every week: someone delivers a pitch. Then I ask the audience, “What’s the problem they’re trying to solve?” Every single week, I get something like, “They build this or that for these audiences to help them do this or that easier or better.” To which I reply, “That’s what they do! What is the problem they are solving?” This is the “start with why” moment. Your startup exists to solve a problem. You – and whatever it is that you do – are not the problem. The problem is out there in the marketplace. Articulate that problem without using “I”, “me”, “my”, “we”, or “us”.

Encouragement is the Fuel of Service

So, wow! For a couple of sessions of Pitch Practice to change one of Atlanta’s most successful Angel Investors’ “whole paradigm” is nothing short of amazing. Thank you, Charlie, for that encouragement.

Then 100 people showed up for Pitch Practice! There’s really nothing to encourage you like a bunch of people you’ve never met showing up for 2 hours on a Friday to participate in a meetup. Thank you to the great people from Girls who Code and the Mandela Washington Fellows from Clark Atlanta University for pitching, learning, and networking. This session of Pitch Practice was one for the ages.

What to Expect after 4 Years & 2,000 Pitches

When people ask me what to expect from Pitch Practice, I tell them two things:

  1. We’re here to pitch, learn, and network.
  2. You never know who’s going to attend; you never know who’s going to pitch; and you never know what they’re going to pitch.

All of that came true today. Thank you to everyone who has ever attended, pitched, learned, networked, and encouraged me to keep on hosting Pitch Practice. It has been and will continue to be my pleasure.

What do you think?