The 2014 Georgia Tech InVenture Prize competition was a whirlwind of an experience. Becky had already graduated and was taking a gap year to study in South American and Antarctica; Brandie won SGA Student Body Vice President; Erin finished her degree in Industrial Design and started her dream job in healthcare IT. I, Jasmine, had taken the semester off from classes to work and get experience in the public health world prior to graduation from Georgia Tech in December 2014. Essentially, I was the only one available and physically capable of pursuing this competition fully.
It was totally unexpected too. And it all started at Senior Design Capstone Expo when we were presented with a golden ticket that ensured that we would automatically make it to the Semi-Final round of the competition.
This ticket is the only reason we pursued the competition, because, quite honestly, we did not even think that we qualified. Specifically me. I was under the impression that only super high-tech inventions qualified for the InVenture Prize and since our design is mechanical and is so simple, I just didn’t think it was an event we could do well in. However, this ticket inspired hope and triggered my passion. I was dedicated to pursuing this opportunity to the best of my ability.
I scrambled to get the model ready, the posters prepared, and a pitch made in time for the semi-finals round which was at 8am the day after my 22nd birthday. Happy that Erin and Brandie could be with me on stage, I thought that experience was the end of our InVenture journey. But then we got the email that we made it to the final round.
WE WERE IN SHOCK.
This is when the real work began. I attended weekly meetings to perfect my pitch with the other InVenture finalists, filed a provisional patent, fixed up the prototype, and participated in PR events sponsored by the competition. There was something related to InVenture happening every week! It was such an overwhelming but incredibly exciting time, and the Georgia Tech InVenture team really did the best they could to set us all up for success.
And then it came time for the dress rehearsal. This was where all of the finalists were happy and nervously excited about the big day. And where my reality was completely wrecked, but in the best way possible.
On stage during dress rehearsal, 3 days before the final show, my pitch was completely demolished by Merrick Furst of the Georgia Tech Flashpoint Accelerator Program. I thought it was the worst experience ever and I did everything possible to not cry on stage. However, the brutal honesty that I received that day is what made my pitch and our team’s stage performance all come together.
Lights. Camera. Action. 3 days and a new pitch later, it was show time.
We were supported by our incredible friends and family in the audience.
And once our 10 minutes on stage was over, it was like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I just thought “Whatever happens from here out is suppose to happen”. I was happy to be with my team and representing something that I am so deeply passionate about. I grew so much during the entire process that I honestly was not even focused on if I thought we would win or not. I even said back stage to all the finalists (whom I had become really close with over this entire process) “I love you guys and no matter what happens, we are all winners!”. Totally cheesy, I know. But that is genuinely how I felt. Every finalist team did their best pitch the night of the show, and I was really proud of everyone!
When we were announced winners of the overall competition, we were ecstatic. IT WAS UNREAL.
We finally had the funding to bring our product to Kenya. The InVenture Prize has made my dream come true. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and our whole team! We couldnt have done it without your support!