Friday, November 30, 2018

EY’s Biz Pitch Competition Helps LGBT-Owned Companies Up Their Game

Three LGBTBEs will bring their presentation skills to a new level as they compete in nglccNY’s upcoming Biz Pitch sponsored by EY on December 10. Each is a finalist from earlier competitions in 2018 and this event will allow them to showcase their companies a final time in a safe environment before an esteemed panel of EY judges, implementing the feedback they received from previous contests and competing for one of three prizes. The three finalists are HootologyThe Mitch Lippman Group, and The Proud Path.

All of the competitors say they have benefitted from this program and improved their delivery each step of the way:

January Biz Pitch Winner Stephanie Francis of Hootology
“I believe every pitch can be better no matter what,” said Stefanie Francis, Founder & Lead Innovator at Hootology, a research & analytics firm. “I love feedback. I’d rather hear the truth that something’s not working than for them to say ‘that’s great.’ I’m nervous every time, but I feed off of that. I prepare and do it anyway. It’s less about being nervous than how can I improve.”

April Biz Pitch Winner Mitch Lippman of the Mitch Lippman Group with EY Judges
“Opportunities like the biz pitch competition allow us to go before large corporate entities like EY, present as a fully grown business, and get feedback on how we’re presenting and how we’re being received. It’s important because we always want to refine,” said Mitch Lippman of The Mitch Lippman Group, which provides executive coaching, strategic facilitation, and leadership training. “The other thing is, you have your 10 minutes and there’s a Q and A that brings more discussion about the business and that’s incorporated with the feedback. That is yet another opportunity for the people in the room to learn more about your business. EY is very much a trailblazer and a very good ally for nglccNY and the LGBTQ business community.”

November Biz Pitch Winner Nathaniel Gray of the Proud Path with EY Judges
“In my experience, humility is the greatest teacher and you don’t grow until you get to a really comfortable space with critique and criticism,” said Nathaniel Gray, MSW,  and Founder of The Proud Path, an LGBTQIA focused educational firm. “I’m grateful and excited to be a finalist. It was important to me to find my tribe as an LGBT business owner. I love presenting the work that I do. I love thinking about how I’m going to craft the pitch. I think what I lack in traditional business knowledge around pitching I make up for with a history in theater and comedy and doing drag. So I’m excited. I don’t really get nervous. I’m really comfortable admitting there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know and I trust that people will help me to learn what those things are and help me grow.”

nglccNY Biz Pitch is similar in format to nglccNY’s long-running Certified Superstar program. Three LGBTBEs each deliver a ten-minute presentation and then receive ten minutes of constructive feedback on style, content, presentation skills and communication. The LGBTBEs and everyone in attendance walk away with helpful advice from corporate partner representatives about how to best pitch their businesses.

“Certified Superstar has always been one of the Chamber’s star events,” said Rob Finkelstein, nglccNY Supplier Diversity Chair. “We were excited to open it up a few years ago to invite all LGBTBEs to attend, observe and learn from those pitching. EY’s generous offer for prizes in 2018 initiated the parallel nglccNY Biz Pitch program. We are tremendously grateful to EY for its commitment to assisting nglccNY’s suppliers with professional development.”

“EY has a history of supporting entrepreneurs. We’ve done pitch training for many years.  We like this model,” said Theresa Harrison, Director, Diversity & Inclusiveness Procurement and Business Enablement at EY. “At the end of the day, we want to give back to our communities. We want to help businesses thrive. They have to be open to listening and we’re all in this room to help. The one common purpose is to help you be more successful.”

“It started as a pilot program in a small conference room in 5 Times Square and it really took off. We love to listen to the business owners and hear their passion. It's a really great event,” said Rosemary Weppler, Assistant Director, Inclusive and Sustainable Procurement at EY. “We're here to assist and get your business to next level, not throw you under the bus.”

The best pitch on December 10 will receive a full scholarship to the Supplier Diversity Professional Excellence, Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth for 2019. The approximate value is $5,000. The runner-up will receive a registration for the 2019 NGLCC National Dinner. The approximate value is $750. The second runner-up will receive a registration for the NGLCC International Business Conference in 2019. The approximate value is $600.

“I’m excited about the biz pitch final. We’re going to get a bit playful with what we’re doing. In this mock pitch environment, it gives us a great chance to play around with something new. We can be creative and see if it works,” said Stefanie Francis of Hootology. “I’m looking forward to getting honest and raw feedback from EY. I’m not too worried about who places where in this competition. It’s about all of us refining our pitches and getting better. I have such gratitude for EY doing this. They’re giving of their time after hours to help our businesses. It illustrates their commitment to supplier diversity. It’s awesome. I wish more suppliers would take advantage of these cool opportunities.”

“I enjoyed crafting the story that I crafted last time but I think there’s a better story to tell and I’m really excited about the opportunity, not only to put that together, but to put it together in a safe environment, because it is a safe environment,” said Mitch Lippman of The Mitch Lippman Group. “It’s a competition at a large company, a worldwide entity, but at the same time, they’re much less saying ‘hey Mitch, if you get this pitch right we’re going to work with you.’ What they’re really saying is ‘Mitch, bring your pitch in and we’ll help you to refine it and get better at it.’”

“It’s been eye-opening for me because as a social worker and someone who has worked with very marginalized socio-economic people, the concept of corporations can sometimes be like a dirty word to me. It can feel like there isn’t a lot of interest or concern in giving back to minority communities,” said Nathaniel Gray of The Proud Path. “But it has been a pleasant surprise and an important moment for me in my own growth as a business owner to see that that is something that EY is committed to doing. They are clearly engaged. I am impressed and really excited.”

“Regarding the next round, the contestants tell me they are practicing non-stop and making sure their presentations flow easily. Now we sit back and wait for the results,” said Rosemary Weppler of EY. “Looking ahead to 2019, we’re very excited for a new year of meeting new businesses and helping them grow and reach new audiences.”

“The final pitch is a chance for the winners to show how they’ve progressed and try to get prizes. The final pitch is also a time to celebrate the holidays,” said Theresa Harrison of EY. “We’re looking forward to continuing the relationship with nglccNY and with the strong, budding LGBT suppliers. We want to learn how these pitch competitions have helped them succeed. We care about driving results.”

The event is Monday, December 10 at EY from 4:00 to 6:00 PM, with the M3 immediately following. RSVP here.

Cindi Creager is the Media & Communications Chair of the nglccNY Executive Committee and co-owner of CreagerCole Communications LLC, a New York City-based public relations firm experienced in LGBTQI issues.

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