A Pitch for Good: Coaching for the Schmidt Futures Competition

With March Madness around the corner, one might assume that mentioning The Ohio State University and the Final Four in one breath is clearly a reference to basketball. But, OSU has made it into perhaps an even more competitive and arguably more important Final Four. And Articulation is proud to be right there to coach this brilliant Buckeye team to victory.

Schmidt Futures, self-described as a venture facility for public benefit issued a challenge:

Increase income or decrease costs by 10% for 10,000 local households in the middle class. And, get it done by 2020.

After all, no one ever criticized the former CEO of Google for thinking too small…

Here at Ohio State, the preliminary competitions began in summer 2018.

Once OSU narrowed down the finalists to three ideas, Articulation’s executive communication coaches and trainers were asked to coach the top teams for their official pitch to Schmidt Futures in Arizona.

I was impressed and humbled at the ambitious plans that each team put forth and enjoyed working with them to determine the best way to present their ideas at the pitch competition.

I’m not sure which the teams thought was a more daunting challenge– developing the idea or delivering it before a panel of judges in just 10 minutes. Think Shark Tank but for good rather than profit. (Yes, I admit it, I’ve watched a few episodes of Shark Tank.)

In the ongoing boxing match between time and content—time wins. There are certainly concepts that take longer than 10 minutes to explain; we likely won’t learn quantum physics in 10 minutes. And, we can’t solve for the disappearing middle class on that clock either.

But, you can identify the challenge, you can engage an audience, incorporate story– you can present an idea.

The teams worked tirelessly to prepare for Arizona, and I would humbly offer that their ideas were made better by the time constraint. They were forced to plan not based on what they thought was interesting or important, but rather on the all-important question of “what is important and compelling to the audience?”

Congrats to the winning OSU team, Power of Home. They will continue to the next level of the competition to receive funding for their idea and to partner with Schmidt Futures to secure the middle class.

In the true Columbus Way, the other two teams will also move their ideas forward to make a meaningful difference for families here at home.

Looking for more insights on pitch competitions? Ruth Milligan wrote about the positive side effects of an internal pitch competition on our blog a few weeks ago.

If your organization is hosting an internal pitch competition, Articulation can help. Contact us to learn how you can work with our executive communication coaches.