Practice, practice, practice
The best way to cool your nerves and smooth the edges of any business pitch is practice, plain and simple. "It will totally replace all of the confidence issues you have," said Seet. "Being comfortable with your material that you can do it with your eyes closed, will come across as a much more powerful presentation."
It's not only about the big prize
Winning is great, and at Rice, some teams go home with several hundred thousand dollars in tow. But landing a prize is not the only reason to enter a business plan competition. "The point is to launch a company," said Bob Gillespie, CEO of InContext Solutions and a former Rice finalist. "It's not to get your picture taken because you won a contest. The point is to have a viable product and grow a business. It's not to win."
One key to taking home a prize that was not mentioned outright at the winners panel? You need to deliver a crystal clear message, the kind of pitch that judges and potential investors can not only understand but believe in as a viable business concept. You can put on a great show and get some laughs from your audience, but if you don't communicate what you are trying to sell and how you are going to sell it, you are just a player on a stage, not a business team. Judging from the performance at the practice-round presentations today, plenty of finalist teams have their work cut out for them.