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Archive for the ‘Community Building’ Category

Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Pitch Evaluation Rubric

Posted on: August 25th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

Learn the secrets of high-functioning ecosystems

Watch the webinar recording!

Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Time: Noon – 1:00PM (EDT)

  • Do your judges and mentors misapply your criteria?
  • Would you like more informative and reliable results?
  • Are you challenged to pick the best teams or ventures?
  • Do your final scores inform and educate appropriately?
  • Would you like better judge and team orientation?

Join us for this fast moving and highly informative workshop that will help you create the best possible criteria and judging system for your purpose.

Poor criteria and judge orientation compromises the reliability of pitch event results. When results are reliable participants have reference points to model and improve performance quickly. Learn how with a few simple tips you can create IMPACT and exceptional FEEDBACK for your entrepreneurs!

This workshop will help you:

  • Understand the common challenges and critical success factors
  • Create the remedies that are right for your system
  • Learn what to prioritize and how to do it
  • Develop the best rubric for your needs
  • Select and orient judges appropriately

All participants will receive the Score My Pitch – Criteria Development Worksheet to build your ultimate criteria

Over the last three years, our team has been visiting, interviewing and serving universities and entrepreneurship ecosystems all around the world. We’ve been to more than 500 pitch events and demo days in that time. We’d like to share with you some of the learning and best practices that we are gaining through this experience.

Join us for this action packed and interactive session.

We limit these webinars to 50 participants, so register now to reserve your spot.

10 Unintended Consequences of Bad Evaluation Criteria

Posted on: August 21st, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

LLV Demo Day 130626Organizations use evaluation criteria in many ways. When the criteria are inadequate a variety of unintended consequences occurs. Here’s our top 10 list of things that go wrong with bad evaluation criteria.LLV Demo Day 130626

  • Bad decisions are made
  • The wrong people and ideas are recognized
  • The wrong entrants are modeled
  • The wrong behaviors and activities are reinforced
  • Educational value is lost
  • Participants are disenfranchised
  • The community is misinformed
  • Future participants disengage
  • Judges wisdom isn’t leveraged
  • Participants chose the wrong path and perform the wrong activities

Evaluation criteria affect much more than most of us would image. Making sure that the appropriate criteria are used is fundamental to a successful program.

Would you like to learn more about developing effective criteria? If so, then join us for the Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Pitch Evaluation Rubric webinar on Tuesday, August 23 at Noon eastern time. Follow this link for more details and to register.


Score My Pitch is a pitch event judging and feedback system. Harness the wisdom and potential energy in your community. Produce reliable results. Share contextual and actionable feedback. Watch the video.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Practice, It’s Not Just for Olympians

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

Lavern practice

With the Olympics in “full on” mode at the moment, a post about practice seems like a perfect topic. Bobby Knight, the one-time Olympic basketball coach from Indiana University said “The key is not the “will to win” . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Imagine if your professionals, students or entrepreneurs could execute their communication like a gold medal winning Olympic athlete competes in their event. How much better would your team perform? Imagine if they could articulate a podium worthy value proposition, class presentation or venture pitch. Imagine if they could connect with the audience and compel them to action. Would they sell more? Would they get better grades or a better career path? Would they raise more money?

Indeed champion athletes and award-winning performance artists embrace volumes of focused practice to assure peak performance. While the numbers vary considerably by sport and art form, athletes and performing artists practice somewhere between 2-50 times more than they play in actual games or perform shows. They train physically and mentally, they do dress rehearsals and walkthroughs and they focus on specific skills some days and the entire game or performance others.

Practice is safe and collegial. Practice might also be competitive to replicate a game environment or opening night performance. The championship is not won in practice, but it can be lost by how we practice. Practice helps individuals evolve from conscious competence to unconscious competence. The best practices see performers stretching beyond their current skill set to manifest higher levels of ability.

Watch this brief video where Michael Jordan shares his thoughts on the importance of practice.

Athletes and artists who don’t practice, don’t play. Practices are mandatory and integrated into the performance process. Practice is not only a base requirement, it is essential to maintaining and evolving skills. The emphasis on practice doesn’t stop when athletes and performers move from junior levels to the Olympics or professional ranks. In fact, practices get longer, harder and more sophisticated as performers mature towards their peak. Specialized coaches, trainers and consultants are hired to maximize performance at the top levels.

So here are a couple of challenge questions, if your team isn’t prepared and communicating at a gold medal level:

  • What’s your team’s practice to performance ratio? Remember top athletes and artists practice 2 to 50 times more than they play and perform.
  • Do you have a method to diagnose each individual’s skill and performance gaps? Left to our own devices, most of us will practice our strengths and ignore our weaknesses. Identifying and overcoming deficiencies is where major performance leaps occur.
  • Are you providing good benchmarks and references? While each individual understanding their performance and growth opportunities is important, this information is abstract. Seeing their performance in comparison to peers and past performers creates even better reference points. Sometimes it is hard to improve until you know what better looks like.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Greatness then is not an act, but a habit”.

Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you improve your team’s success through practice. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

A Conversation with Greg Coticchia from the U Pitt Blast Furnace Accelerator

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

We recently had a chance to visit with Greg Coticchia, Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s startup accelerator, the Blast Furnace. In this wide-ranging discussion, we learned about Greg, the Blast Furnace and the “Pitt” Innovation Institute. We also learned about some of the big objectives on the horizon for the Blast Furnace. Greg also shared with us what caused them to adopt Score My Pitch and how it has impacted their program.

Please have a listen. Greg is doing some great work and making quite an impact on student and university success.

Score My Pitch is a pitch event judging and feedback system. Harness the wisdom and potential energy in your community. Produce reliable results. Share contextual and actionable feedback. Watch the video. Ask us how we can help you engage and empower your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Business Plan Competitions are Broken…and What to Do About It!

Posted on: July 27th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

Learn What the Best Organizers are Doing

Watch the webinar recording!

Date: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Time: Noon – 1:00PM (ET)

  • Is the idea of a business plan outdated?
  • Why do we struggle to attract participants?
  • How do we build a diverse program?
  • How do we create the learning and impact we intend?
  • What model makes the most sense for your program?

Join us for this fast moving and highly informative workshop that will help you improve the engagement and results from your business plan competitions.


Business plan (or business model) competitions are fantastic vehicles to introduce the power of entrepreneurship to students, faculty and administration. These programs have the potential to engage students and faculty from every department while at the same time drawing in and re-engaging valuable alumni.


Whether you are considering your 1st or planning your 100th business plan competition this workshop will help you:

  • Understand the common challenges and critical success factors

  • Select the model that is best for you and your audience

  • Align the content and format with your institution’s objectives

  • Develop the right event mix for a robust program

  • Choose between business plan and business model canvas methodologies

  • Learn how to engage administration, faculty and students

  • Assure diverse, cross-functional, multi-disciplined teams are formed

  • Build and implement a powerful and sustainable learning model

  • Measure progress and outcomes

Over the last two years our team has been visiting, interviewing and serving universities and entrepreneurship ecosystems all around the world. We’ve been to more than 200 pitch events and demo days in that time. We’d like to share with you some of the learning and best practices that we are gaining through this experience.

It’s Time to Rip Off the Band-Aid and Share Results: Here are 6 Reasons Why!

Posted on: July 8th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

We talk to organizations every day who are concerned about sharing the results from their pitch events and demo days. Their concerns range from uncertainty of result validity and judging to concerns about inadvertently discouraging the students, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in their charge.

From serving, partnering and associating with thousands of organizers over the last few years, we’ve learned that democratizing results is one of the biggest keys to building community, accelerating your current cohort and improving the starting point and trajectory of future cohorts.

Here are our 6 reasons why it’s imperative that you democratize your pitch event and demo day results starting today!

  1. Participants need to learn how to internalize and action feedback – Customers, investors, strategic partners and employees will not shelter your teams from critical feedback. The best time for your teams to learn how to listen, ask questions and appropriately respond to feedback is when they’re with you. This is a lot like how artists gain from critiquing. They learn how to listen and evolve in safe and collegial environments. It is much better to be “wrong” when a sale or investment is not on the line. Beware of coddling.
  2. Referential learning – While seeing your individual scores and feedback may be helpful, it is abstract. Seeing your scores and feedback in relation to your peer group adds significant context and allows high speed leapfrogging. This context allows participants to model better performers, benchmark relative change and resource those who are moving fastest.
  3. Start ahead – Yes, it’s really amazing that each wave of new participants is asked to start at the absolute beginning. They gain nothing from the previous generations of participants. Democratizing results allows the community, including all future participants, to learn from and stand on the shoulders of previous participants. This also helps take the mystery out of the program, which better engages future participants and allows them to onboard more prepared for success. Competitive runners use democratized results from previous versions of events they will compete in to know how to train, identify training partners and fully commit to events.
  4. Program transparency – Nothing creates judging or process suspicion quicker than cloaking results. Transparency also assures that any weaknesses in the judging processes are found out and corrected quickly. Community trust and integrity are founded on transparency.
  5. All feedback is perfect – While there are some improvements that can be made in most judging processes to improve the utility and utilization feedback, the biggest opportunity is for organizers and participants is to learn that all feedback is perfect. Feedback is somebody’s opinion based on their frame of reference. Anyone sharing their opinion is taking a risk. They do so with an earnest interest in providing valuable insight. Participants need orientation and training before getting feedback. Honoring and respecting all feedback assures a steady pipeline of valuable input.
  6. Do it today, delay is expensive – Waiting only prolongs the work you’ll have to do to shift your culture. With every passing day that results are not democratized, your community and current participants are losing value and potential energy. It’s up to you to break these antiquated Darwinian traditions and propel your community to new heights.

According to performance expert, Lisa Marshall ( “Feedback from others is the fastest way to improve. It’s how we learn and excel. Feedback motivates us and helps us to make course corrections. It’s critically important to understand that the MAIN idea behind feedback is to MOTIVATE behavior.”

Amplify learning, growth and engagement by democratizing your results today.

Score My Pitch is a pitch event judging and feedback system. Harness the wisdom and potential energy in your community. Produce reliable results. Share contextual and actionable feedback. Watch the video.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Event

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Check out this great wisdom from Catherine Walsh @CWalsh_ of Social Media Contractors.

We talk a lot about driving online engagement on the blog. But social media is a great tool for driving offline engagement too. It’s especially useful for promoting events.

Have an event you want to promote? Here’s how:


Map out a promotion plan.

Host a strategy session. Create an event information page to link back to. If you can’t create an entirely new page on your website, at least create a new blog post.

Create a single hashtag. People want in on the conversation, so make it easier for them with a hashtag. We suggest something simple like the #eventname. Use this hashtag in every post and tweet. Every so often, use the hashtag in non-promotional, curated posts too. (This can help drive conversation without getting too repetitive.)

Place your hashtag on all your printed materials. Make a few different images in the very beginning that you can cycle through. These images should include the page URL and hashtag.


Post about the event at least once a week. Change your Facebook and Twitter cover photos to your event images.

Don’t forget about LinkedIn and Facebook. Now is the time to post the event and details on your Company LinkedIn page. Create a Facebook event, share it with your followers and add a link to it on your company website.

Then, monitor the conversation. Use Twitter to create a sidebar widget that shows all of the tweets from people talking about the event, and add it to your website. Not only will you be able to see who is discussing your event and/or brand, but visitors to your website will also see it.


Start posting about the event a few times a week. Now is the time to drive conversation about the event. Enlist help: Reach out to other affiliates to help you promote. From other industry leaders to followers to company employees—start engaging with others to help you spread the word.

Watch who discusses your event and then engage with them. Reach out, ask them why they are excited, and retweet them. It’s not just about giving the when, where and what of your event, but using social media to create hype around it.


Post about the event every single day, on all platforms. Make sure that you are changing up the language each post, though. Countdowns are also a great way to get people excited and aware.


Live tweet the event! Take pictures and share instantly, and after. Talk to people and encourage them to connect online. Then tag them in a live tweet and follow up after the event.

Using social media, you can reach the majority of your fans and consumers at the same time. You can also promote directly to the right people, rather than spending time and money on a few print ads or television spots that may or may not reach the right people.

Startup America Summit: Rocking Little Rock!

Posted on: April 12th, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

Date: April 8-9, 2015
Location: Arkansas Venture Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
Host: Lee Watson and his team

It’s been a great couple of days of learning at the spring Startup America Summit. The event was filled end-to-end with valuable learning and connecting.

About Startup America
Startup America (formerly known as Startup America Partnerships) was created through the Obama administration’s Jobs Act to spur economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is made up of state and regional champions as well as a variety of entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders who gather periodically to share best practices and to find opportunities for collaboration.

What’s the Entrepreneurship Community Like in Little Rock
The impression after two fast paced days is that the entrepreneurship community is coalescing and evolving quickly in Little Rock. The summit was kicked of by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola who both shared their thoughts about the importance of entrepreneurship to the economy and citizen independence. Governor Hutchinson cited his administration’s focus on information technology skill development at the K-12 level and their financial support for entrepreneur ecosystem infrastructure entities such as the Arkansas Venture Center as examples of Arkansas’s progress.

Julie Lenzer Kirk, Director of the EDA Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Chris Masingill, Federal Co-Chair of the Delta Regional Authority then talked about a variety of initiatives and opportunities of both national and regional significance. Julie walked through the work of the National Council of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, some specific regional strategies, an Innovation Demo Day coming soon at the White House and an ecosystem’s hierarchy of needs. Chris’s comments focused more on some specific initiatives of the Delta Regional Authority to help entrepreneurs connect to resources.

Jimmy Moses and Moses Tucker a couple of Little Rock real estate developers shared wonderful insights into their vision for creating a more accessible downtown. They highlighted several recent projects that appear to be great additions to the city. Their passion for developing a community where residents work, live and play was evident.

We also heard about several Arkansas Venture Center success stories including Merger Match and Apptegy. Merger Match helps companies successfully assess the non-financial risks and opportunities in acquiring another company. Apptegy is a software company focused on products to help better engage audiences.

No visit to Little Rock would be complete without a visit to the President Clinton Library. It’s an impressive structure that adds significant pizzaz to the local skyline. As you would expect, the walking tour reveals many of the accomplishments of the Clinton Presidency.

Organizations such as the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, Little Rock Tech Park, Arkansas Capital, Arkansas Small Business Development Centers, Made by Few, Innovate Arkansas, Arkansas Fellowship, Noble Impact and Startup Junkie Consulting were represented on a panel that gave a good overview of the vibrant resources and support organizations that make up the Arkansas entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Trey Bowles from the Dallas Entrepreneur Center and Jess Knox from Blackstone Accelerates Growth in Maine shared their thoughts with a room full of local leaders on their impressions of the remarkable status of entrepreneurship in Little Rock and they challenged each individual and organization to double-down their investment.

Arkansas Venture Center
Just settling into their new space on East Markham in Little Rock, the AVC is perfectly located in the center of town with easy access to many amenities and resources. The facility itself is all on the 1st floor and has direct access from the street. There is ample coworking, private office and community space. The high ceilings and huge windows give the space tons of natural light. The team has done a great job to amplify the cool factor of this space.

Take-A-Ways from the Summit
The conversation between Startup America Champions both in the formal and informal settings were as compelling as ever. Formally the group invested much time to frame its relaunch and shared vision. We set preliminary goals, mapped out the next several months of activities and broke down much of the responsibility between and executive director role and a handful of committees.

Informal discussions included the potential formation of interest groups within Startup America. These groups would explore certain topics of interest to its members such as acceleration and incubation, mentor development, community building, sustainability, etc… There were also some preliminary conversations about building pathways to connect ventures, mentors and resources inter-community.

The path ahead is very bright for Startup America as we focus to engage and equip community builders throughout the United States with the knowledge and tools that will enable them to foster strong and vibrant economies that are accessible to all citizens.

A next Startup America meeting has been planned for Portland, ME from June 29-30. This conveniently is immediately following Maine Startup & Create Week which goes from June 22-28. More details to come.