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Alchemy picks up MIT BAP runner’s up award – One

Winning is a funny thing. Sometimes you have to lose to really appreciate what you have. This of course comes from a guy who wrote the book on failure that failed to become a success.

Just like Akamai we picked up the runners up prize at the MIT BAP award. The winners were an algorithmic cash machine from Caltech. The minute we saw them we said to ourselves, we shouldn’t mind losing to these guys. (Plus they were still doing tshirts and back packs and we had sold out to the suits.)

Last night after three months of self discovery and two instances (a week each) of sleepless nights, we went against 4 companies in front of Ken Morse, Bill Aulet, Imran Saeed, Shuja Keen, Monis Rehman and a group of local Panelists. The story till three nights before is here. This is what happened after wards.

48 hours to show down: We found about making it to the finals on Friday afternoon, after lunch. Saturday was a nightmare and no real work got done on Sunday due to the after effects of the shock. Sunday night after the kids went to sleep, we sat down and started working on the power point. Four hours later we had progress, but not nirvana.

36 hours to show down: Monday morning was Bill’s workshop where he walked us through what he would want to see in a business plan and how it should be graded if you were sitting across the entrepreneur. By the end of the evening, we had thrown out a large part of the original script. Then the real work started.

24 hours to show down: Uzma, Fawzia, Mohtashim, Maryam, Anoushay (9 month old), Imran and I landed at our home about 8ish, had a quick bite and started working. We put the presentation up on the wall and did a dry run of the pitch. The first reaction was Aaaaggh

The next was crap, there is not much time left.

Between 9 pm and 1am we ran through the pitch about 9 times. We recorded it, re-recorded, re-worded it till words became a slur. After every one left, I spent another hour in a mindless haze staring at the screen, imploring it to get better. Come two am, my battery had also run out.

9 hours to show down: First thing in the morning after about 4 hours of shut eye, we started work again. We spent two hours getting the props and the new images ready and by ten am we were reasonably happy with the power point. The script was still missing. I drove down to attend the people ware section of Bill’s presentation and stayed till lunch.

5 hours to show down: As soon as Bill let us go, we trooped up to Fujiyama, picked up a table with a wall and started work on the script. 4 more runs and the group signed off. We were in good shape.

2 hours to show down: I drove back to the office, locked up the implementation team in the conference room and ran it all over again 3 times. By now we had practiced, pitching the pitch 16 times. For a 15 minute presentation we had spent about 12 hours rehearsing it. At the last attempt we had clocked it in at 13 minutes and 45 seconds. Our budgeted time was 15 minutes plus Q&A.

I had had 8 hours of sleep in 60 hours but we were ready.