K-State Launch 2016 was finally here.
The competition had been circled on our calendars for weeks. We prepared for the event more than any of our college course presentations. Normally, we rehearsed enough to sound smart and avoid embarrassment in front of classmates. But there was something different about the Launch presentation, something more was at stake than a good grade. A strong showing would validate our business.
We memorized our lines, sharpened our powerpoint, scrapped whole sections of our speech, re-memorized what we changed, decided on a compelling opening, ironed our clothes and polished our delivery. We committed everything to memory, down to each step and hand motion during our presentation.
We even put in a rush order for brand new Bungii t-shirts so we could give the judges something a little extra to remember us by. We were ready.
On the day of the competition, we took the stage confident and were sure we would impress the room. Hundreds of eyes were on us as we walked on stage. We connected our PowerPoint, and softly cleared our throats.
It was go time.
Harrison took a deep inhale and was about to start-- just like we had practiced. But instead of Harrison's voice filling the room, a different voice rang out.
“You realize that buying T-shirts is the worst investment you could make a startup, right?”
It was one of the judges sitting directly in front of us.
“Why would you ever buy T-shirts? It’s a terrible use of capital. You obviously haven’t been to failedstartupTs.com, a website dedicated solely to shirts of failed startups. What were you thinking?”
After only 10 seconds, our confidence was gone. We were stuck in the middle of an awkward silence with an audience waiting for someone to do something. We were being forced to go off script before we even said a word. Standing there completely taken aback, we shared hurried glances at each other trying to silently figure out what our opening line was. Our rehearsals was somewhere other than our brains.
A little sweat on Ben’s brow served as a reminder to get back on track, and quick. He smiled as naturally as possible and simply said, “thank you.”
Harrison captured his composure and pushed forward:
“Chances are you’ve been there before, you’ve needed a pickup truck, but haven’t had one. Whether you are buying a couch off of craigslist or a mattress from the store, not everything fits in the back of a Toyota Corolla. That’s where Bungii comes in.”
The nervous energy beneath our voices disappeared as we put more distances between us and the opening shirt debacle. We finished our time on stage still a little frazzled but confident in our presentation of Bungii’s vision.
We were fortunate to advance through the next round and eventually win the entire competition. To be completely honest, it was intimidating at the time but now we laugh at how awkward our first few seconds on stage were. It's a moment in Bungii's history that is impossible to forget.
Even though we were told to abandon the world of high fashion, we haven't totally learned our lesson...
We still love our Bungii t-shirts.