I had completed a year in the Belfast Enterprise Academy (BEA), and as it drew to a close, the opportunity to pitch at UU Dragon's Den for equity-free money came up. Nancy, my mentor and No. 1 supporter, encouraged me to go for it, and so I thought - why not!
At this stage, I was still using the very first prototype of my sock-aid, which consisted of plastic, from a corner of a mop bucket, and fabric from a bath mat and t-shirt. It was a bit rough around the edges, even with t the help of superglue on the fabric to try and tidy things up, my sewing skills were not up to scratch at this stage. I had acquired the new materials at this stage to reconstruct a new prototype, and the night before the pitch I felt it was the perfect time to take apart my only product and make a new one... it was not!
I stayed up late trying to make it, hand-stitching four layers of material together, and I continued to still work on it until midday the following day. I was a mess. I hadn't given myself any time to go over my presentation, I wasn't happy with aspects of the product, and I didn't even have the time to test it out. At this stage, I thought to myself: "there's absolutely no way I'm doing this pitch, I have to pull out."
As Nancy was facilitating the event, I thought to myself: "Sure I have to go into University anyway, I'll not be rude, and I'll pop by and tell her I'm not doing it face to face."
When I met Nancy and told her I wasn't pitching it went through one ear and out the other as she replied with "yes you are!" She took me aside, calmed me down, gave me a quick pep talk, and then I walked in to meet the 6 dragons.
To say the pitch went terrible is an understatement! It went that badly I felt so calm after as I thought to myself "there is no way this could get any worse, I'm not going to win this". The Judges asked me loads of questions as I had left out so much information, and I was able to talk in length in each area.
I was quite embarrassed leaving the room as I was annoyed at myself that I wasn't more prepared. It was a big learning curve for me in terms of preparation for a pitch, and I got to understand what the judges were more interested in knowing. Also, by being thrown into the presentation, it made me face my fear of public speaking and overall, I was proud to have done it.
The next day I got an email congratulating me that I was the winner of Dragon's Den, and to this day I'm still not quite sure how I won!