How to Win Twice at Pitch Night with Gareth Shanthikumar from the Om Shanti Foundation
In April, Bloom held its second highly anticipated Pitch Night, where young entrepreneurs came to present their business ideas, non-profits or social enterprises to a panel of industry experts in front of a live audience.
We had 4 young social entrepreneurs who had non-profits or social enterprises that looked at tackling a broad range of social issues from inequality in third world countries to helping low-income families in Australia eat healthier.
While each presentation generated a lot of interest from the audience, the favourite amongst the crowd and the winning pitch came from Gareth Shanthikumar, the President at the Om Shanti Foundation, an organisation that helps families break the cycle of poverty in northern Sri Lanka.
However, this wasn’t the first time he won at Pitch Night. In March, Gareth participated and won an impromptu rapid-fire pitch, where members from the audience had to present any not-for-profit or business idea in 1 minute.
After going through two Pitch Nights and winning twice, Gareth shares some insights on the 3 most important lessons he learnt from his entrepreneurial journey.
1. It's Never The Right Time To Start
From his experience, Gareth’s greatest advice to others who want to follow in his footsteps is to "just do it", because it's never the right time to start.
“I remember when I first did the rapid fire pitch, it was like an impulse decision and I didn’t know anyone there y’know, and I ended up making all these connections and getting asked to come back to the second pitch night and when I came I ended up winning that one. So I was pretty lucky with that. So what I learnt is to not hold back, you’ve just got to jump into it... and see what it leads you into.”
2. Put Yourself Out There, Just Do It
Even though Gareth won over the audience twice at Pitch Night, it wasn’t as easy as it looked behind the scenes. The first time he attended, he was initially hesitant to participate when the host opened the floor for the audience to improvise a 1 minute pitch.
"I was just like 'nope, I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to do it' but then I was like 'nah, let’s do it' and I put my hand up without even thinking twice and that was the reason why I went up and it did end up leading to a lot of good things.”
He says the reason why he had the courage to go up in front of 100 strangers was thanks to the book he was reading, 'The 5 Second Rule’ by Mel Robins.
“[The book] was talking about how a lot of us have intuitions on how we want to do things but we wait a bit and talk ourselves out of it like ‘nah, I’m not gonna do it’... but if you count down from 5 seconds and just do it, you’ll be surprised to see what happens, so I’ve been trying to do it with waking up in the morning and going for a run. I just did it.”
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While entrepreneurship involves doing a lot of things by yourself, sometimes it can be easy to forget that there are other people that can help you speed up the process.
“I used to think that I could do everything by myself. But I would tell myself that you can’t do it by yourself, you need to find people who are proficient in certain areas, so I would tell myself to seek help… So don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek help. Like actually look for it, like actively search for people interested.”
About the Om Shanti Foundation
The Om Shanti Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that helps impoverished families in northern Sri Lanka to rebuild their homes and finances after the civil war devastated the country throughout 1983 up until 2009.
The Om Shanti Foundation makes their impact through the philosophy of: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
With this philosophy, they help families break out of the cycle of poverty through providing families with the resources, skills, and mentoring necessary to establish their own small businesses that are self-sustainable in providing them with a stable source of income.
If you’d like to help Gareth and his foundation or would like to reach out, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org