The M2GATE program is a virtual exchange centered on social entrepreneurship. Participants gain knowledge, skills, and abilities by working on a cross-cultural team. The capstone of each team’s work is a virtual pitch video.
A pitch video is a presentation to potential investors to garner support for a business idea. A compelling pitch explains what an idea contributes, how its business model is conceived, and why it is likely to succeed.
Before a team arrives at a pitch-worthy idea, there’s plenty to do. Every team in the M2GATE program addresses a social issue or challenge in the MENA country represented among their teammates. So the first assignment is to identify the target issue. The second is to flesh out a business model to address this issue. After the team receives instructor feedback on these preliminary assignments and uses this feedback to refine its idea, it is ready to create its final pitch video.
Each team creates a 5-minute video in which they explain their proposed solution as if they were pitching it to a panel of live investors. They may not be pitching to investors in this virtual program, but they are presenting to an international panel of judges. Four judges – two in the U.S. and two in the MENA region – all with extensive experience with start-ups and entrepreneurship education, evaluate the pitch videos on a rubric.
What makes a good pitch video? The panel of judges looks for the pitch that most effectively:
Of course, the video should also be visually engaging, easy to follow, and edited with the viewer in mind. A winning pitch video should do, in other words, what a good live pitch would do – only virtually.
In this program, the virtual pitch competition is high stakes. Each team competes for the top spot in the cohort – and one team will win a trip to meet each other in-person in Ann Arbor, Michigan and pitch live to a panel of judges and possible investors at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The virtual pitch competition is the culmination of the program; the apex of eight weeks of intense virtual teamwork.
How have teams fared thus far?
The first cohort of the program had a winner and two honorable mentions. The Alters’ winning solution, Soft on Spot, offered soft-skills training to Moroccan youth.
The Pacesetters also produced an impressive video, promoting their job-placement service for new graduates in Libya.
The second cohort of the program also featured some outstanding pitch videos. Kaizen, a team from Tunisia and Michigan, proposed their technology-integrated Smart Bin as a savvy way to address municipal solid waste in Tunisia and beyond.
And keeping with the environmental focus, the Sustainablers, a team Egypt and Michigan, took runner-up with a video presenting El-Link, their solution for recycling electronic waste.
The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.