March 9, 2009 2 Comments
>Final day… Big Day…
It seemed like we had been in seattle for years where it was hardly a few days.
The morning was a bright sunny one. Perfect day for a perfect competition. Raka had stayed with me overnight and we left early morning for the university and reached there by 7.30.
Had light breakfast and practiced some more for the preliminary round or in other words the semi finals. 5 out of the 14 teams were to be shortlisted after this round. At around 9, we left for the HUB where our presentation was scheduled at 9.30. We met Suzy there and she encouraged us more before our presentation. We entered the room with 7 judges and few audience at 9.30. The presentation was for 10 minutes. It went flawless – exactly as planned. The next 10 minutes questions and answers happened. They too went without any major hurdles. In fact we think we gave more than what was needed.
It was a satisfied, happy and confident bunch of 4 that came out of the room.
Lunch was scheduled for 11.30 and we decided to use the time and the excellent weather for some more exploration and photo clicking.
We got a few minutes late for the lunch in this whole process. We had 2 of the judges waiting for us at lunch where in they gave us some valuable feedback and also questioned us more on our plan and the business environment in India with respect to our plan.
The final five finalists were announced just as we were finishing our lunch. We were in. Through a random chit pickup we were slotted to be the 3rd one to give the presentation.
We had not seen what the hall looked like or how many people were there inside. And it was a much bigger hall full with people that met us when we entered at the time of giving our presentation. We had the next 20 minutes with us and again we delivered what we had practiced so hard. We were much more confident this time around though made a few mistakes (which hopefully only we noticed). Ankit, raka and I came out after our presentation and roamed about in the university campus – much more relaxed.
The results were not announced after the final round of presentations. They were to be announced at the Banquet Dinner at Fremont Studios. All the teams then moved to the venue then. The setup was lavish there. But before that, there was another round of elevator pitch with our posters setup – like the one we had on Wednesday. It was not a graded round so the atmosphere was much lighter. We also took the opportunity to interact to a couple of other teams and heard their projects. It was basically a time to network and interact with the top bosses of many companies like Microsoft. The most interesting, though was the one with the COO of Theo Chocolate – the Chocolate Factory in Seattle. We had heard about it the previous day and that it was open to the public where one could go in for a tour of the factory and see how chocolate is prepared. We were offered a tour at that very time. But it being not possible at that time, he offered us a pack of fresh chocolates. It was quite an overwhelming gesture.
Meanwhile we were also interviewed by a TV Channel. It was time for dinner then. A full banquet dinner with all kinds of forks, knives etc were last experienced only at a sample lunch at Infy’s Cross Cultural training session. It was a first time real experience. Everyone was given a table number and it was made sure that a variety of people were seated at each table. We had some nice discussions on cultural differences in India and US there. Time flew as we ate and talked. The keynote speaker on the occasion, Dr. William Foege gave an interesting presentation. Finally, it was time for the awards. The first one was the investors choice award – given for the trade show which was held on Wednesday. It went to the team from Princeton University. Next in line were the 2 prizes by department of global health. We were strongly expecting to get one of these. But there was disappointment when we didn’t win either of the two. A slight dejection feeling was sinking in now. It was the final award – the Grand Prize of $10,000. And there was that euphoric moment when our name was announced as the winners. The moments after that are in a blur.
We hugging, getting a standing ovation, going to stage, hoards of cameras clicking, everyone wishing us. We first went to Suzy who had patiently guided us all along followed by photos and more photos. And then suddenly everything ended.
Center of Attraction
I took a cab back to Anu’s place, went out for a dessert in a fabulous hotel downtown. We had a flight early morning the next day. It was already 2AM. So Anu, raka and I had a night out.
So some of the last moments at Seattle were quite similar to when we arrived – dark outside, a beautiful view of the city and the lake from Anu’s living room with the space needle promptly standing out amongst it all – similar to the last 8 days which simply stand out in the life till now.