Sunday, September 29, 2013

Know when to Fold

The moment I spilled milk on my presentation day, I knew that it will be a rough sea ahead of my sail, and my worst fears materialized. This is related to one of the contest I participated recently, about designing a product made primarily from Tetra Pak materials. 

So I got my creative juice flowed since I knew that I had to come up with something that is creative/original as it was one of the main judging criteria (as plucked from the contest overview here). Aside from that, it has to be commercially viable (translate : something that people would actually buy). Next was quality and functionality, which means the design should be at the peak of its quality and be functional and feasible.

My entry made it to the Top 20 out of 69 submitted entries, where the final 20 contestants would have to come up with a live presentation of their design and submit their sales pitch to the judges. On the presentation day, the Final 10 are selected and as I predicted for myself earlier that morning, I flunked and effectively out of the running. Knowing when to fold is one thing, knowing why I folded probably would help me move on. Below are 5 breakdowns that I observed from my self evaluation.

5. Sales Pitching
I must admit that I am not salesman material, nor am I a professional public speaker. The confidence I had was due to the fact that I understood my product perfectly. The feedback I got after the presentation was 
  • "What do you work as?" - Well, I answered honestly that I am working in IT line, and I gotten a good feedback that my sales pitch was good, OK, a good start.
  • "Your design and idea is good, but not for this contest maybe." - Fuck! Whenever people praise you followed by a conjunction, you know that you're screwed, royally or otherwise, but definitely screwed.
I compared my presentation to the other 18 finalists, I did not listen to all of them because quite frankly I couldn't hear most of them despite the usage of the microphone. Most of them merely described what they made rather that hitting all the points of the judging criteria. Probably that's where I faltered, by explaining who are my target clients, possible sales points when I should just focus on what the fuck I made and why I made it. My bad - wrong presentation style at the wrong place :D

4. It's one thing to have a winning design, but...
The complexity of the designs who made it to the top 10, from my perspective of the public (and not as a bitter loser or else I would've hated them all), 3 of them had intricate designs and longer manufacturing time (this was apparently one of the judging criteria by 2 of the judges). The rest of them are something that you can craft yourself at the convenience of your home. What I overlooked was that the winning design would commercially be put into the market, but by who? I was grilled when I said that my design took about a day to make versus other simplistic designs which took hours. Should've unrealistically say my design would take less than an hour to make, with elves assisting.

3. Design something that doesn't suck
Self explanatory, otherwise I wouldn't be typing this.

2. Know your odds when you're a minority.
Q:    I am a student, can I participate?
A:    Yes, you may. This competition is open to everyone, regardless of age and nationality. However, those below age of 18 will require consent of their parent/legal guardian. Refer to Clause 2.2 under T&C.

This was extracted from the FAQ of the contest, but, by talking to other finalists on the presentation day, I've learned that 15 out of 20 of them are from Taylor's College student. Essentially, that is already 21.7% of the confirmed Taylor's participant out of the total 69 of participants, and winning odds further shortens to 75% at the final 20. My analysis stopped there since I was booted out halfway through. And to further drift my odds, one of the judges, is a part time lecturer at Taylor's University. Think of it this way, assuming that I love listening to the Beatles, and I was given an iPod by a Belieber, who filled the song list with 9 Justin Bieber songs out of 10, what are the odds that I would actually hit the Beatles song if I had the iPod on shuffle. 

1. For those who didn't make it, don't give up. You're still in the running for the people's vote category.
Any seasoned comper would know, 'voting' contests are divided to two distinctive camps - Those who join and Those who don't. 'Camp Join' would have their distinctive division as well - Those who goes for the jugular for the votes by any means possible, ethical or otherwise and those who genuinely garner their votes by futilely begging/bugging/annoying their Facebook friends. 

I was told by the compère that 50% would be public vote (those who visit the exhibition area in Publika) and 50% would be online vote. Either way, with the most obvious way to rig the voting system ( Read my previous out takes on Bane of Voting Contest and Do Your Votes Really Matter ) , it is easy money of RM1000 - people choice. Heck I would sell my vital organs for RM1000 as well. The moment the compère started naming the shortlisted finalists 'in no particular', I knew that I am royally screwed as those designs are distinctively different to what I presented. I don't think my product sucked that bad per se, but if I am serving a appetizer when everyone are serving entree, you know how it goes. I would rather hear "You lost, go suck a lemon, get on with your life and move on" than "You didn't make it, don't give up, go further fuck yourself by trying to chase the votes (said with a smiley face)".

The contest is still on going as I am typing this, they will award the top 4 designs (which means another 6 will fall), and one of them is potentially going to automatically win RM1000, feel free to join the bandwagon here). If there is any justice, from the final 10, I would actually put my money on Recycle(d) Calender Clock, after talking to the designer, I understood his passion and design and his presentation was spot on as well. Do check their entries currently displayed in Publika as well.

C'est la vie, :End Rant: