So, it turns out that we hadn’t actually read ANY part of the entry form. I can’t remember why, it does seem pretty stupid looking back, but it seemed to make perfect sense at the time to enter a competition we knew nothing about. Another part of it was to find a member of staff at the university who would back your business plan. On university man’s instructions*, we tracked down a ‘young lady with red hair’, snuck up on her in a corridor and then pounced, business plan form in one hand, pen in the other. (This was all in the same day, by the way, as the email/printed plan drama.) We retired to the pub and agreed we were lunatics who should on no account set up business together.
But the weird thing is, we won round one. Our business plan got the highest marks. Now I don’t want to cast aspersions on the other entrants, but perhaps no-one had read the rules. Whatevs! We had won the privilege of presenting our business plan to a room full of Quite Important People who Know What They’re Talking About. And university man himself, who we were now fairly nervous to meet, seeing as he probably thought we were a teensy bit thick, to say the least. On the upside, this was definitely the best new dress excuse in ages. The trouble with proposing to set up a clothing business is that you feel like you can’t do it in trousers that have baby-sick stains on and a shirt that fitted you two children ago. It’s just unconvincing, somehow. The cost of setting up our business grew suddenly by the cost of a new dress. (Also, I dyed my hair orange. This is basically unrelated, although when someone asked if we were really serious about setting this up, I did yelp, ‘I’ve dyed my hair ORANGE, to match our logo!! I’m taking this VERY seriously!’) We made a mood board, (fun!) re-aquainted ourselves with the Joy of Powerpoint, (less fun) and borrowed some jackets.
The presentation was mildly terrifying, especially the questions section. It’s always tricky to be questioned about things that you know pretty much nothing about, and I lost any hope of coming out of it looking vaguely intelligent when I couldn’t hear a guy who kept trying to ask how we planned to ‘scale up’. After three unsuccessful attempts, he bellowed ‘how do you propose you GET BIGGER?!’ I also pretty much shouted another guy down when he suggested that it sounded more like a hobby than a business (but why on earth would you take up a hobby that in any way involves financial forecasting??)
We didn’t win the presentation round. Frankly, I would have been surprised if we had. But we didn’t lose it by much (the phrase ‘half a point’ was bandied about at some stage, but it doesn’t really bear thinking about.) What we did win however, was university man. Wesley would become our mentor. Excellent news for us, possibly slightly less excellent for him. We imagined him driving home, weeping quietly.
We, somewhat predictably, headed for the pub.
*Instructions given to Sarah whilst she was mid-potty training her daughter. And when I say mid, I do mean mid. Phone in one hand, poo in the other. Really.