By Rose Jordan
This post is a follow up to a Tuesday, April 12 story about INjoo Networks and the startups’ preparation for the Clean Energy Trust Challenge, the largest single-day pitch competition for energy startups in the United States.
In the immortal words of Tom Petty, “the wa[aaaaa]iting is the hardest part.” No seriously. The waiting is the hardest part. It’s rare that you need to nag yourself to keep breathing in and out, but that’s exactly the negotiation I was having with my lungs in the hours and minutes leading up to our pitch.
It was actually a relief to step onto the stage at 10 a.m. just to be finished with the anticipation. And miraculously, all the words were there, right where I left them after hours upon hours of practice (anyone who’s taken Professor Ed Hughes’ “Perspectives on Leadership” class has heard his inspiring stories about the payoff of a well-rehearsed speech). He was right. The intimidating mics, bright lights, and hundreds of upturned faces have NOTHING on the power of relentless practice.
I vaguely remember introducing myself to kick off the pitch, but the rest felt like a blur until I heard Ada, our CEO, finish with a perfectly chosen quote by Arthur C. Clarke, saying, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” adding “… and I believe that’s what we’re seeing today.” Pure joy washed over me and my teammates as we walked off stage and into congratulatory hugs.
The INjoo team was the very first of 14 teams to pitch, and by all accounts, our team set a high bar, capturing the crowd’s attention and soliciting excellent investor questions. We were approached by dozens of attendees throughout the day with congratulations for our strong pitch and with questions about the technology. And though we did not take home one of the top prizes, we made enormous strides in our connections and awareness within the Chicago market and beyond. We were thrilled to see our friends from Hazel Technologies (a company born out of the same NUVention course that sparked INjoo) win a $500K investment. All around, it was a great day for Northwestern University!
Finally, we have received confirmation that we’ll be pitching at the MegaWatt Ventures Competition in the coming months, so our journey is just beginning.
I’m also happy to report my lungs have remembered how to breathe on their own.
Rose Jordan feeds her desire to advance urban sustainability with a marketer’s tool belt as a program manager at Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, She is pursuing marketing management and strategy majors in Kellogg’s Part-Time MBA Program and serves on the leadership team of the Net Impact Club.
Ardak (Ada) Kussainova ‘15, CEO of INjoo Networks, graduated from Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year MBA Program this past year.