Values shown: support, support, support; the art of the possible
Like some of the best things in life, Pitch for People was born to the parents of serendipity and coincidence. In March 2013, I was taking part in a pitching weekend. Friday night, we had a great team and a great idea. By Saturday night we’d picked enough holes in our great idea to make swiss cheese and we left that night feeling somewhat lost.
As I was walking in to town on the Sunday morning, 6 hours before we had to pitch our idea, I realised that our team had much in common with the other teams in the training: we had an imbalanced mix of skills and ideas. Shortly after that, from my time networking, I realised that the issue was far wider spread.
On Saturday, we had been a team with skills but no direction. On Sunday morning, I pitched Pitch for People to the team. The team all jumped on board and that afternoon I pitched Pitch for People to the panel of investors and mentors.
It was a disaster. An utter flop.
That night I went to bed happy that I had learned a lot and ready to put Pitch for People behind me, and return to my day job.
The next morning I realised that the need for P4P was real and there was no reason I couldn’t build it. So I did.
I built a prototype. I networked like crazy. People responded really well to the idea. I didn’t get a lot of traction but people were very supportive.
Fast forward 5 months of bootstrapping and hustling and I was getting very much into the P4P headspace. I needed help and I had no budget. I was very fortunate to find a handful of people who offered their skills for skills exchange, vastly reduced rates or even free. One thing I learned then and I’ve often repeated since is that it is easy to hire someone to do a job when you have the cash to pay (admittedly, sometimes this part isn’t even true) but it’s very hard to find someone to provide assistance for any other kind of currency. This, even though that there are plenty of people out there who would willingly give their time and skills for the right cause for a limited fee or some kind of exchange.
Problem is, there was no way to find these people. I was still building that tool.
When I was made redundant I jumped into P4P full time. Or, something resembling full time. I was trying to balance building P4P with getting some paying freelance work. I think suffice to say that I did a poor job of balancing the two. A short time later the tax man cometh and that was curtains for the site.
Except it wasn’t.
After going back to work I wasn’t able to network to the previous degree. But still, every now and then, I’d be in a conversation and someone would say something and I’d think ‘you need Pitch for People’. Occasionally, some of the original supporters would say the same out loud.
But I had less time and less money than I’d had previously. I didn’t see how it could work.
Last year, I was put in contact with a designer looking to expand his horizons. A few months later and the person that introduced us, the mighty Ann Hawkins, joined the team.
Now we’re a team of five. We still have no budget to speak of. We’re borrowing time, swapping favours, and trying to make things happen.
It’s the Pitch for People way.