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By Björgvin Benediktsson

Björgvin Benediktsson studied business economics and entrepreneurship at Eller. Benediktsson was one of the UA students who participated in the 2013 Arizona Student Startup Demo Day. Students from Arizona’s three state universities presented 12 student-run startup ideas, competing for $30,000 in funding. During the event, each startup was judged on the problem it was meant to address and the proposed solution, the strength of the team, the budget and market strategy, among other things. One team from each university received $7,000 in funding and runners-up received $2,000 each. The grand prize winner took an additional $3,000.

I was really glad that my colleagues and I were the second team to be called to the stage during the Arizona Student Startup Demo Day competition in Scottsdale.

If not, I may have hyperventilated before I could give my seriously over-rehearsed, one-minute, 46 second spiel on how our idea, Crowd Audio, connects independent musicians with audio engineers all around the world.

How does it work? Bands are able to get the best sounding music possible and audio engineers can improve their skills with music production while enhancing their portfolios.

We went on to take first place for the UA and $7,000 prize money, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Four teams from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship were selected to compete, pitted against eight more teams – four each from Arizona State and Northern Arizona universities.

The diversity of the UA teams made the competition fun. Fittid Sport, a group of exceptionally fit swimmers, pitched their proprietary solution for fitted racing suits. Vive showcased its pathogen detection technology for the medical field. Exploreful creators explained how their website would enable travelers to get trusted recommendations from their network of friends. And then there was my team, Crowd Audio, simply trying to revolutionize how music production is done.

Crowd Audio venture team and advisor

The Crowd Audio venture team with its check after the 2013 Arizona Student Startup Demo Day (left to right): Björgvin Benediktsson, Alex von Bieberstein, team advisor Emre Toker, Cat Leslie, and Chris Fraioli.
Photo by Jessica Carlson/UANews.

Back to the hyperventilating.

Pitching your business idea is hard. Very hard.

After countless rehearsals you think you’ve got it. You’ve rehearsed your pitch so many times that you start waking up pitching it to yourself. Amateurs rely on slides to give them talking points. At this point, the slides were irrelevant. The slides supported what we said, but we did not even need to glance at them to remember our parts. For the last few rehearsals before the big competition we did not even bother to boot up our computers. Every piece of information was ingrained in our mind.

This is what the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program does: You are trained to be leagues above any other when it comes to presenting your ideas. Sure, you’ll be told it is all part of an academic exercise, but that’s not the whole truth. The UA faculty prepare you so that you can pitch your business idea in front of a room full of investors and other business types.

Like a well-oiled machine, we went onstage and gave it our best. Sure, I probably talked way too fast. There was also a point in which my foot began shaking so hard I had to subtly grab the podium to steady myself.

All that in about seven minutes.

But it is all about the pitch. You get one shot and it has to count.

Luckily, my team was just as ambitious, and if anything, even more prepared than I was. My stress was leaking down my forehead while they kept calm and carried on their parts like there was nothing to it. Everything at the McGuire Center is a team effort, and we could not have earned our award and prize money if we had not functioned as one.

It was one of the greatest moments I’ve had in the Eller College of Management so far, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.

Top photo, the Crowd Audio venture team (Björgvin Benediktsson second from left), by Sarah Mauet.