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Guest Blogger – Eric Boudreau: Pitching for Crowdfunding

On Tuesday June 23rd, I had the chance to participate in a “Dragon’s Den” style pitch event held at Theatre Junction GRAND. It was part of the official launch party for Alberta’s own crowdfunding platform: Alberta BoostR, and was sponsored by ATB, Capital Ideas, and Momentum. At stake there was a $1,000 cash prize, plan an additional $4,000 from the audience so definitely enough money to get your blood pumping! (As if pitching your business to 200+ people wasn’t going to be enough…)
My name is Eric Boudreau, and I’m the owner of Escape Capers YYC, a real escape room facility opening later this summer in Calgary. We host a real-life game, where you and your friends are locked in a mysterious room. The game is to search for clues and codes, solve puzzles and work as a team to figure out how to escape before time runs out. It’s a lot of fun, and a great activity to use as a team-building event.
Now personally I don’t mind public speaking if given time to prepare and a topic I care about. But usually you’re given lots of time to say the things you want to say… not so at this event! Originally conceived as a thirty-second “elevator-style” pitch, each contestant was given up to three minutes to make our case to both the judges and the audience. After three minutes the light would dim and our microphones would fade away. It’s kind of like being played off during an Oscar’s speech, except they don’t give you that slow ten second warning. It was very stressful, and I could tell my fellow competitors felt the same.
Preparing for the event I was determined to get my entire speech in on time. I chiseled and chopped, paring it down to the essentials, but still ended up around 3:30. It was at this time I realized I couldn’t cover everything I wanted to talk about, so I had to make a choice: do I direct my pitch to the judges, who are more interested in the business as an investment opportunity, or do I pitch my business to the audience, who are more interested as potential customers? I decided that it was more valuable to impress 200 people instead of 5, so I chopped out one section that focused on projected revenue and financials, and came in at 2:55. Five whole seconds to spare. Giddy up.
The event itself was delightful. Theatre Junction GRAND is a great space, and our host Andrew Phung does a great job warming up any audience. And I knew that being onstage, I would tend to talk just a little faster than I’d practiced, and sure enough I came in well under time.
The feedback from the judges was interesting but predictable (“I would have liked to have seen more info on your financials” was the most frequent comment) and sure enough one of my competitors (FREDsense – an industrial water monitoring solution) walked away with the $1,000 cash prize. But my favourite moment of the evening was at the end when people from the audience got to chat with us in the lobby. Several groups made a point of stopping by to tell me they loved my business idea and presentation, and they couldn’t wait for us to open so they could try it out. This is the reason I’m opening Escape Capers YYC, so I can bring excitement, happiness, and joy to people’s lives, at least for an hour or two. And it looks like I’m going to be able to do just that.
Eric-1
Escape Capers YYC will be opening later this summer in Calgary, Alberta. You can save up to 30% on tickets through July 15th at www.albertaboostr.ca or you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their website escapecapers.ca.

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