Advancing Black Entrepreneurs
UHD’s MDCOB Hosts Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce Pitch Day
By Laura Wagner
“Tell us your story, and let your passion for the business shine through.” Such were the words of Robert Herjavec, Shark Tank investor and judge, when asked his advice on making successful pitches.
That was also the charge to a group of dedicated Houston entrepreneurs who visited the Marilyn Davies College of Business (MDCOB) last December for Pitch Day, a Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce (GHBC) initiative (formally titled SOS Resurgence Demo Day).
A dynamic business pitch experience, the SOS Resurgence program was created during the pandemic to assist supply chain entrepreneurs in entering the supplier field. The goal was to lay the groundwork for these suppliers to secure contracts by presenting their supply chain management pitches to industry leaders.
In her opening remarks at the event, Kyra Hardwick, Founder of consulting firm The Kyra Company and creator of Resurgence, explained, “The Resurgence program is leading the way for small business owners with a focus on defining and pefecting growth-stage business models.” This event marked the second Pitch Day in the initiative.
“The Marilyn Davies College of Business is thrilled to host this event and strengthen our partnership with the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce,” said Dr. Carlos Gooden, Executive Director, Graduate Business Programs at MDCOB, and host of the event. “Our goal is to become a lightening rod for economic opportunity, community engagement, and networking for small businesses. We are proud to collaborate and serve as partners with the added benefit of exposing our MBA students to strategic planning, scaling businesses, and effective ways to establish viable relationships for entry into the corporate supply chain.”
How the Competition Works
Anyone who has watched Shark Tank is familiar with the structure of a pitch: a verbal presentation that outlines the outstanding customer need (problem) plus the product or service proposed that will solve the problem (solution). The third component of the pitch is where the work comes in: a high-level business plan that has been thought through deeply enough to withstand intense questioning about costs, profitability, customer base, competition, and other business parameters.
To prepare for Pitch Day, the Fall 2022 entrepreneur cohort first attended a series of forums through the GHBC with support from corporate sponsors United, Verizon, Chase, H-E-B, and others. Topics included strategic planning for customer service, business operations, human resources, training and development, operational finance, and sales and business development.
Participants created seven-minute pitches designed to demonstrate their ability to achieve certain goals:
- Establish eligibility for banking programs and products,
- Successfully enter the supply chain as a “ready” supplier with the capacity to compete for corporate contracts, and
- Engage collaborative partnerships that support overall capacity building, knowledge sharing, improved performance, and earnings potential.
Each presentation was followed by a three-minute Q&A session in which judges asked tough questions.
MDCOB students as well as faculty were invited to watch the pitches at the day-long event, which was emceed by Carol Guess, GHBC Interim President. GHBC Board members and participants’ family members were also invited.
“Hosting events like this on campus can provide our students with a networking opportunity, obviously, but also a much-needed window into the realities of becoming an entrepreneur. It’s not enough to have a great idea or product, you have to have a broad understanding of all aspects of business—taxes, regulations, customer service, HR—all the nuts and bolts of day-to-day operations," said Gooden. “Watching these entrepreneurs try to make convincing cases for their dream businesses really hammers home how critical a compelling pitch is for securing financial support.”
The event ended with an awards ceremony at which the top three pitches won cash prizes provided by corporate partner Amegy Bank. Winners included:
- First Place: Heart to Heart – $2,500
- Second Place: Designs by Chimere – $1,500
- Third Place: J Rose Events LLC – $1,000
For more information on the Resurgence Program or future Pitch Days, contact Dr. Carlos Gooden at firstname.lastname@example.org.