In June 2012, we were selected to present in Chicago TechWeek. TechWeek brought together the best startups in the Chicagoland area to showcase their work. With no real budget to speak of, we knew from the get go that the deck was stacked against us.The best presenting team would win $50k which is a sweetener to any deal. We accepted the invitation and headed out to Merchandise Mart.
In a quick team meeting we set our priorities for the event.
- Get the word out of a change coming to healthcare delivery.
- Enjoy ourselves (we tend to work a little too hard sometimes)
- Meet some great people and engage in networking
With a severely limited budget, we had to be creative. Muhammed came up with the idea of using a crime scene to grab people's attention and to highlight the plight of heart attack victims. It brought attention to heart attacks being the number one killer in Chicago, a fact that was not well known.
During the event, we realized just how big of an underdog we were. We were shocked at the amount of resources spent at some of the booths. One booth in particular had hired beautiful models and dressed them up with wings and another had LCDs covering every inch of their booth. But even though we were out matched by budget, but judging from the amount of people who stopped by our booth, they knew we had a big idea.
We were eventually judged; oddly even though we were the second stand from the entrance, we were one of the last teams to be evaluated and our judges looked like they were done for the day. We did our presentation and it went great...kind of. In the middle of the presentation, a female heart attack survivor asked for a high five as she cast her ballot to vote for us. This probably didn't amuse the judges who were confused as to why I was giving a high five in the middle of a judging round.
Our fan was ecstatic for a reason; some female heart attack survivors have a 1 in 2 chance of dying within a year of their initial cardiac event. Developing a platform to prevent that is definitely high five worthy.
We didn't end up winning, but that didn't damper our spirits of an otherwise exciting and successful day. We set a number of goals for the event and one of which was to get the word out about Benecure, which was a success. Hundreds of people stopped by our booth and were very excited with what we had to offer. We even met a couple insurance representatives who wanted us to pitch to their investor arm. Overall, it was a very good experience and we were glad we accepted the invitation.