Iveria TV – the “Hulu of Foreign TV”: Vying for an Arch Grant
December 20, 2012 • Arch Grant News •
Some time February 2012 I heard about the Arch Grants for the first time. Sergi called me and said there was a very promising business development project in St. Louis I should absolutely take a look at it. It was pretty clear from the start there were professionals behind the project and only worthy applicants would get through. There were three stages – each designed to thin out the pool of candidates culminating with an in-person presentation to a panel of judges.
We submitted our brief summary and settled on carrying on the business as usual. This was the first step. A couple weeks later a lonely email arrived from Sergi. He was forwarding me an official note from the Arch Grants personnel informing us we’ve made it to the next stage. This is probably the first time I felt a bit hopeful we might actually make it. Not that I didn’t believe in success, there were just so many great, talented companies participating in the event I was feeling humbled.
For the next phase we had to prepare a detailed business plan and prepare we did. In many ways we saw it as an excellent opportunity to pause for a little bit and regroup – get a big picture view of where our effort stood, what was coming down the pipe and how the business priorities should be structured. Sergi did most of the work of putting together the plan while I was mostly contributing by reviewing each draft and acting devil’s advocate – trying to find weaknesses in the arguments and strengthen them with some solid evidence. We decided regardless of winning or losing the event this was an extremely important exercise. Well, winning would be better of the two alternatives J
This time I couldn’t sit tight doing ‘business as usua’l and pretend nothing was happening. Not a single day would pass without me reminding Sergi to check his junk-mail folder to make sure by some unfortunate occasion this one very important Arch Grants email has made its way there. And finally we were rewarded for our labors! We were selected for the next phase.
The preparations for the presentation phase of the competition really kicked in at this point and finally the long-awaited day came on April 28, 2012. I was not looking forward for it with a fair amount of anxiety mixed with cautious optimism. Sergi and I did a sort of a dry run just on the eve of the actual event presenting the case to a friend (very successful entrepreneur himself) who did us an incredible service by grilling us for every misstep. I think this was vital. Failure to prepare is preparing for failure, as the saying goes.
We were the second team to go present in front of the panel. Public speaking has never been my particular cup of tea, I was visible nervous while we were waiting, but as soon as we passed through the doorframe it all gave in to serene confidence. Hard to say why – maybe it was the encouraging smiles from the organizers of the event as they wished us good luck or wise, measuring eyes of the judges as we entered the auditorium or some internal conviction we were here to win. I just knew we had brought a good case here; we just had to present it properly.
And then everything went sideways! Sergi was covering the first part of the presentation. The idea was he’d present an elevator pitch version of it while our video AD would play in the background. We thought the combination of a verbal explanation accompanied with a visual, animated clip in the background would convey a strong, clear message. The trouble was with the audio – it was muted on the computer we did a dry run the day earlier but it was on now – loud, cheerful music rose from the background completely overshadowing Sergi’s voice. Watching him an uneasy sense of panic started creeping in – I wasn’t sure the judges could hear him. I awkwardly edged closer to the laptop running the video clip finally managed to turn off the darn thing. Now Sergi’s voice was clear and loud but I wasn’t sure we were out of the woods. As he finished his bit, I picked up mine but instead on focusing on the technical aspects of the presentation as planned, I went back reiterating some of the points missed during the unfortunate audio debacle.
We were done with the presentation portion of the interview and the questions poured in. A word of advice for the future participants of the project – be prepared for a pointed, no-nonsense inquisition. The judges do their job well; they’ll notice any weakness or inconsistencies in the arguments and press on those hard. Be frank, answer the question to the best of your knowledge and don’t talk around the points. Aside the business ides put forth in front of them, the judges are assessing you. They want to see intelligent, clear-headed go-getters approaching business challenges with a healthy mix of ingenuity and pragmatics. I think we handled the onslaught well doing our best to explain the risks and opportunities as we saw and demonstrating progress made by that time. I thought overall we managed to pull it together in the end.
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