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The Review

DMZ startup pitches at Tsinghua University’s President’s Cup


DMZ Sandbox Student Grant recipient pitches as one of four international delegates at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Last month, DMZ Sandbox was invited to attend the President’s Cup at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China – the number one educational institution in Asia.

Now in its sixth year, the President’s Cup – an initiative that aims to discover, cultivate and enhance students’ entrepreneurial skills – took place as part of the university’s incubator x-lab.

And this year, for the first time, the conference extended its invitation to international delegates. Representatives from Germany, Georgia, Japan, Singapore and Canada participated as a result.

“Canada’s participation in international pitch competitions importance is two-fold. For entrepreneurs, it broadens their understanding of global business markets. For Canada, it positions us as a powerhouse on an international level” says Peter Bowie, DMZ Advisory Council Member.

RTA School of Media graduate and DMZ’s Sandbox Student Grant recipient Josh Gonsalves, founder of Contraverse – an end-to-end VR production and distribution company for innovative and exceptional story-driven virtual reality – attended to represent the Canadian delegation.

Each presenter had a five minute pitch, followed by a question and answer period. The audience included investors from high-calibre investment firms and global influencers.

We spoke to Josh about what he learned from this exciting experience.

Learn about your audience

Knowing your audience prior to an international competition is crucial to ensure you speak the masses’ language. It’s not limited to your choice of words when presenting, but understanding that coupling your presentation with effective visuals and simple messaging allows global investors and entrepreneurs to gain a better grasp on your product.

“The DMZ’s pitch coaches helped me shape my presentation effectively through the use of imagery prior to pitching at the President’s Cup” Josh states.

Challenge your comfort zone

Josh powered through the nerves that came with presenting to a large audience.

“I now have a lot of empathy for individuals that get butterflies and nerves right before presenting. It was a humbling experience. I knew I was representing an entire nation and I told myself  – for the next 12 minutes I need to shut all these feelings of discomfort off.”

Embrace a global perspective

“Being around similar mindsets with a global perspective on business helped me work through different challenges.” Josh explains how delegates discussed different obstacles they’ve faced as first time entrepreneurs, from raising investment rounds, to prototyping and resource availability from different parts of the world.

For Contraverse, pitching in Beijing and gaining feedback from world-leading investors was invaluable. Tsinghua University is eager to welcome back Toronto Metropolitan University’s entrepreneurs next year at the President’s Cup.

Have an entrepreneurial idea but unsure about where to start? Visit the DMZ Sandbox to learn more about our programs.