24 hours can seem like a lot, or very little time. It depends on how you look at it. When you have 24 hours to create a 5-minute pitch, pivot the direction of your company, and get ready to convince 250 people in the entrepreneurial community at Launch Academy’s Demo Day why they should vote you over 20 other booming startups, 24 hours seems like an impossible task. With the right teamwork and perfect blend of people and different environments, 24 hours is all you need.
First, a quick flashback to business school; Going through the Sauder at UBC required a lot of group projects. In one of the first classes I ever took we learned about a fascinating concept called the Punctuated Equilibrium model. Essentially, it states that whenever more than half of the time to meet a team deadline has elapsed, the second half will be far more productive.
It makes sense; people tend to ease into things until they realize they need to elevate their performance once the time constraint becomes more tangible. In the case of my team at Tangoo, between August 27th and August 28th we went through the “Uber Punctuated Equilibrium.” We were in the running with 20 other startups to qualify for the top 5 and then pitch for 5 minutes to an esteemed panel.
At 2:00PM on Tuesday August 27th, I gathered my rock star interns and started to build the skeleton of the presentation. We found ourselves stuck on how to best articulate the problems we were solving and how our solution encompasses them.
We went until 4:00PM when my web team joined in to pitch their input and help us explain how our technology was part of the solution. We decided to switch our environment and go to a different room. We made more progress but still, we needed a spark to really get us going. I decided to take a step outside and bring my team over to a final stop of the night: my good friend Julian DeSchutter’s house. He’s always full of great ideas. This is when things started to take off.
The second I put the brilliant minds of JJ Maclean, Scott Szarapka, and Julian DeSchutter together the energy in the room soared to new heights. We started to rethink exactly what the value proposition of Tangoo was and if it was something that we were delivering in the best way possible. Secondly, were we doing it in the most effective and scalable way? It took very little time to realize that Tangoo needed to be more robust and automated alongside more spontaneous. Just as we started to realize all of this, we had a quick break and dashed over to the Outdoor Movie series at Stanley Park to give away Thierry chocolates to one lucky couple. We bought the goods and made it there just in time before the movie started, it was right out of a James Bond movie as we scrambled to get a Taxi to and from – it was the perfect boost in team morale. We had over 6000 people exposed to the contest. After this we had sushi and got straight to work.
Work continued until 4:30am. We were literally building a company over night and the reason why we were so successful was having the right deadline, the right things at stake, and the perfect combination of passionate people in the right setting. It was truly amazing to see this in action, we had done more in 24 hours than I felt I had done in 2 years.
The day of the pitch was spent practicing delivery on my end and my team furiously putting together the slideshow until every last detail was perfect. We went right up until 5pm when people were entering Launch Academy’s Demo Day and were browsing the 20 booths. We had the misfortune of being stuck in a corner so we had to be especially proactive.
When the to 5 were announced, my heart skipped a beat as Tangoo was named as part of the shortlist. This is when things get real and your body is forced to quickly adjust from fantasy to reality. I managed to get my team in a room right before and practice a couple more deliveries of the pitch – it didn’t sound nearly as good as in prior practice but again, the circumstances were very different, the pressure was on. Thanks to my team, they were there coaching me the entire way.
By the time I got called up to pitch and face a subsequent grilling session by the judges, it all seemed like it happened in less than 5 seconds. I still seemed to be conscious and standing confidently so these facts pointed towards it being a moderate success at the very least.
I found myself huddled with my team anxiously awaiting the judge’s deliberation. They announced winners from third to second place and we still hadn’t been mentioned. It was apparent that either we came in last or we were the champions of the night. With our refreshed attitude and unparalleled teamwork from the last 24 hours, we all had a gut feeling that we had actually won this thing – we were right. As the “oo’s” started to echo around the room once Tangoo was blurted out, we were eccentric. Mission accomplished.
Many of us were in disbelief. But when we thought about it, it made sense. We were simply staying true to our brand. We relied on changing our environment 3 times the day before with new people in each brainstorm session. We were up until late socializing and eating/drinking to stay awake. Finally, we all had stepped out of our comfort zones to conquer a new experience. That’s the Tangoo way of life.