SummerHack 2020: A Race Against the Clock (Part 4)

In the final part of our series, I sat down with Manisha Dias, a SummerHack 2020 Judge and Assistant Vice President, Strategic Partnerships at SCOR (a Global Life and P&C Reinsurer). We discussed the highlights of our global 24-hour hackathon, the ingredients to a great pitch, and what teams at WinterHack 2020 can do to win our big prize!

Manisha, thank you for joining us, not only for the interview but as a Judge at SummerHack 2020! We’re curious to know, what inspired you to join the judging panel?

For starters, I wanted to support Cookhouse Labs. I’ve crossed paths with the Lab several times in the past, and I think they actually foster innovation (versus those that just talk about it). Besides that, joining the event was a way to give back and help others who are trying to ideate and become entrepreneurs. I also love hearing ideas from their inception — you never know what the next ‘big thing’ might be and how you may be able to help shape it!

We’re happy you joined us! What did you enjoy most about attending an event like SummerHack?

It was impressive to see what a handful of individuals could come up with in a short amount of time, given a certain problem statement on a topic that they may not have had a lot of working experience or background knowledge in. They used their resources to the full extent to put something together in a creative way. I love seeing the diverse solutions that people come up with and how they respond to the time pressures and judges’ questions.

On that note, what pitch did you find memorable at the Live Pitch Event?

My favorite was the solution that actually ended up winning 1st Place, called Byte. It spoke to me the most in terms of impact, especially given prevalence of Obesity in the United States.

Coincidentally, this solution is one I’ve personally thought about creating for a while, so I was overjoyed when I saw it getting tackled by Byte! People do not know what they are consuming, how much they are really eating, what effect it has on the body, and how much they actually need for sustenance. The Smart tooth removes the manual work needed to find that information and had features I didn’t know were possible to have, and that’s why I thought it was fantastic.

What would you say are key ingredients to creating a successful pitch?

Whether it’s an elevator pitch or a larger pitch, I have found that there are 3 core ingredients that make a pitch successful. The first of these ingredients is charisma. If you have 3 minutes to sell your life’s work, or even work you’ve done over 24 hours, having a charismatic speaker is one way to get the audience engaged. Every word you say is crucial, and charisma gets the audience to listen.

The second ingredient is creativity, which can be interpreted in several ways. It could mean creativity of the solution, where your solution has never been done before. Then there’s creativity in how you present your solution, such as using a prototype, visual, or soundbite, which makes it memorable.

The third and final ingredient is context, which is key because pitches are often to audiences from diverse backgrounds. You cannot go into a pitch assuming the audience is familiar with the problem statement. Tying your solution to the problem and therefore explaining the impact it will have on a larger scale will help wrap your entire solution up for the audience and the Judges.

Looking back, how would you describe your overall SummerHack 2020 experience?

I found the event to be extremely well-organized — major kudos to Cookhouse Labs. They had a lot of stakeholders to manage, including the participants, Judges, and Mentors, and they never once dropped the ball. I was told every step of the way what I needed to do, and on the day of the event, who to contact in case of technical issues. It was even more impressive that this was done in a virtual environment, so really well done overall.

Since WinterHack 2020 is just around the corner in November, we’d love some advice for incoming participants! What would you like to say to them?

You want to connect your audience to the larger value that your solution is going to bring, and this is key in setting up your pitch. You also want to be able to show how you can execute, implement, and distribute said product. After you’ve figured out your solution, be prepared in your delivery and what you will communicate to the audience, and you will do great!

Final question: How do you think such an event can help #MakeInsuranceBetter?

Specifically, these types of events generate new ideas that have legs to stand on. If you go back 5 or 6 years, the digital world of insurance was bleak with respect to IoT, compared to how it is today. Hackathons, innovation labs, and incubators created a dedicated space to foster and promote these ideas, which can then be pitched to those working in sectors in need of disruption. Alone, you may not have the support you need to develop your idea, but these types of events help creative and diverse ideas move forward.

Manisha, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with our readers, and we hope to see you soon at upcoming Cookhouse Labs events!

Don’t miss your chance to join our upcoming WinterHack 2020: Global Design Thinking Ideation from November 3-5, 2020 — click here to learn more and sign up!