Our first real pitch occurs very soon. As my teammates, Jordan McMullen and Elly Penning, and I craft our pitch, we are following the pitch outline that John Clark, the executive director of the Lab, laid out for us a week ago. We have four key aspects of our pitch: the hook, problem, solution and ask.

Our hook needs to get the listeners’ attention. We are taking the storytelling approach and talking about the first students who were so excited to study abroad after World War II that they were taking troop transports across the Atlantic. Now, according to the Institute of International Education, there are nearly 300,000 American students traveling to all corners of the world, and the United States brings in more than 880,000 students each year. The current numbers are many times higher than they were 60 years ago, and we believe that this is the data bomb that will get people’s attention and serve as our hook.

Next, we outline the problem that abroad offices are facing. They have many students to work with, and each student requires a myriad of documents, paperwork and applications. Our website would make them more efficient in handling all of these documents by allowing them to be completed and collected in one place. Advisors and students could easily visualize which documents the student has completed. Advisors could also easily contact that student directly through the website. Additionally, advisors can post information visible to all students.

Jordan McMullen works on the script for our pitch. Photo by Wesley Hitson

Jordan McMullen works on the script for our pitch. (Photo taken by Wesley Hitson.)

The solution is the meat of our pitch. We detail a three-pronged solution. First, we help abroad offices by streamlining the steps they have to take to send a student abroad. This saves abroad officers time. Second, we save students time by providing all of the information they need to go abroad in one location. The information covers everything from necessary documents to packing tips to weather information. This also saves abroad offices time; advisors have told us that the first 75 percent of student meetings is dedicated to answering questions that students ask about information they could easily find online. For students, it’s easier to just ask someone who is an authority on the subject. However, this makes it challenging for abroad advisors because their job is to help with planning student courses, and instead they are Googling information. This is the crux of our product. This is the problem we’re solving. We give this time back to the advisors, and we then put the power in the hands of the students. Lastly, we also allow students to explore colleges that fit their interests. This could help put smaller universities on the map or help students consider universities that they might not have considered.

We need to ask for some money to get our start-up off the ground. We have heard estimates for our website ranging from $5,500 to $30,000. We will also need to either take the time ourselves, or hire someone, to put all of the information from each university into our site. This will require additional funds. As such, we plan to ask for $50,000 for the construction of the website and additional requirements. This includes a forum, entry and exit forms, profiles for each student, and university information pages, as well as UI and site testing.

We have five minutes on Pitch Day to convince people that we can make studying abroad easier. We let the students focus on finding their destination, not the information.

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