Priming Your Pitch: Tips From Hydraze CEO and QUEST Student Charles Grody

Charles Grody (Cohort 29) has been to countless pitch competitions. He has pitched Hydraze to CEOs and executives of companies including Under Armour and Hungry Harvest and traveled all the way to Toronto for a competition over winter break. He’s perfected his pitch and everything that precedes it. Because we have tons of entrepreneurial minds here in QUEST, I figured that it would be cool to capture his formula for many successes during his time growing Hydraze. I asked Charles some questions and his responses follow:

Charles, right, with his winnings at the Do Good Challenge

How do you find a “good” pitch competition?

Charles suggested that being active and engaged in entrepreneurship programs is key. He said, “I recommend finding the resources on campus that support entrepreneurs. I found out about the Do Good Challenge and Pitch Dingman through the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP). Then, competing in the Do Good challenge opened up my eyes to other resources.”

How do you prepare the content for a pitch?

Charles broke this down into four main steps.

Step 1: “If I’m doing a presentation from scratch, I like to storyboard ahead of time and figure out what the flow is. Start with a hook to draw people in and the way to do that really depends on what your product is. It is good to evoke emotion. That may mean pulling on people’s heartstrings or being funny. I choose the latter as I am talking about toilets. Use the storyboard outline to make sure you hit all the key points of the pitch.”

Step 2: “Once you have an idea of what you want to communicate on each slide, build out the slide deck with appropriate content.”

Step 3: “Create a script. The bottom line is to get your message across. For me, that means a script word-for-word. But for others, that may mean having three key points that need to be mentioned.”

Step 4: “Practice! And that may not be necessary for everyone. You don’t want to lose the right tone or passion in the pitch but definitely prepare in the way that makes you the most comfortable.”

What does the team do together to get ready? 

“As a team, the main thing is a good balance between individual and team practice, both of which are equally important. There’s a team chemistry component that can only be figured out when practicing as a group. You don’t have to be super nice when giving feedback as honesty will lead to progress.”

How do you get in the right mindset on the day of a pitch?

“I have to trust myself. You have to go up there knowing that you’ve practiced and that you’re well prepared.”

Charles at the Pitch Dingman award ceremony

Any final notes or advice?

“There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter pitch. Every pitch should have something special to it and should be able to stand out in its own right and impress people. Pitch what works best with your company, your passion, your feelings, and you’ll be an all-star.”

We cannot wait to see where Hydraze goes and where the next pitch will be. If you have any questions, Charles is happy to chat. He can be reached at cdgrody@gmail.com.

Celine Moarkech (Cohort 29) is a senior studying Data Analytics in Biotechnology.

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