The week we have been talking about for months had finally arrived: pitch week.


Jordan McMullen and Wesley Hitson pitch their prototype on Nov. 18. (Photo taken by Amulya Uppalapati.)

This whole semester was set to culminate in our five minute presentation to a panel of judges, and UniLeap was ready to launch. Weeks of preparation, anger, joy, annoyance and hard work were finally about to be put on show. However, as per usual, when the hardest obstacles are upon you, sometimes you stumble. Our stumble came in the form of illness, preventing Elly Penning from speaking. Wesley Hitson and I then prepared to say her portion of the pitch.

It’s funny when you joke about something going wrong all semester, and then it does.

Oh wait.

So the Monday before our pitch on Wednesday, the news was confirmed, and Wesley and I set to work. Honestly it was not as difficult as it could have been. The real issue we had was Elly not being able to present something she had worked so hard to create. Everything we had tried to make a reality was finally being put to the judges, and she couldn’t share the glory or the fall.

It was sad presenting our product with two-thirds of the team, but sometimes that’s how the die falls.

Wesley and I must have practiced 20 times in those two days, and by the end we thought we had it polished, front to back. However, public performances always throw a bit of uncertainty into the mix.

Watching the first six teams get questioned after the presentation was a good way to get the adrenalin pumping. We had practiced our responses to a number of questions, but the unconventional question might leave me and Wesley blank-faced if we were not on our toes.

The moments passed quickly: walking up to the front of the room, facing the judges, seeing our UniLeap logo reflected on the multiple screens in the room. I took a breath, threw Wesley one more reassuring look and began: “Study abroad advisors waste the first 45 minutes of every hour consultation with their students.” The rest is history.

The whole experience can be encompassed in one word: Reese.

Never before have I been able to create a business model from scratch in such a short amount of time and discuss it with industry professionals. It is an experience worth investing time in. Reese is an exciting look at an exciting career.

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