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  • Writer's pictureAarya Mahapatra

At 16, pitching to investors was scary, surreal and so special!

Last week I, a 16-year-old student, with my team, had the opportunity to pitch our work at Via News Didi to a room full of investors as a part of the culmination of an incubator program, Innovat-ED (A Teach for India Initiative).

Going into this I had no idea what to expect. It was the first time we were doing this.

I knew what I had to say - something to show that Via News Didi has had an immense impact on me, which it did, so the script wasn’t that difficult to come up with.

But I was nervous. I had to speak in front of so many people, and I knew no one!

The only time I had spoken in front of people was during a school project.

I was nervous as it is, and our pitch being the first one DID NOT help. All that was going on in my head was:

"Our presentation when we timed it was 7 mins long, which was 2 mins longer than what they told us to make it"

"They told us that they’ll give us a hard stop at 5 mins, how will they stop us?"

"What if I stutter so much that it affects our timing?"

My biggest worry of all was that my mentors had trusted me with this and I just couldn’t let them down. Being given the opportunity to stand beside my mentor, the founder of Via News Didi, and speak about this initiative in front of (REAL!?) investors was…(I don’t even have a word to describe it) exciting? Nerve wrecking?

But when the pitch started and Asmita Di started talking about Via News Didi with so much passion I thought, all I had to do was express how this project had impacted me as a student: something I did on a daily basis in front of my peers.

And that I did, after I finished speaking I felt proud and obviously, MUCH CALMER!

It was a day later when I received the photos of our pitch, I noticed one in which I was speaking and Asmita di was just smiling at me. Might have been an indication that I did something right!

With our pitch done, I sat down to hear what other entrepreneurs had to say in their pitch.

So there I was, in a room full of people much older than me, thinking “What would they know about kids and their problems with education?”
I wasn’t completely unfair in thinking this - every adult I’ve met has said to me‘it’s the system, must be there for a reason’, and‘all the problems students talk about don’t really exist because we went through the same system’.

Children are studying in the same education system that existed way before these adults were born. But in my experience, adults refused to believe, or acknowledge this.

All the entrepreneurs in that room surprised me.

Pitch after pitch, the common thing every entrepreneur said (including us!) was - Children should be taught more than what their textbooks have to offer.

Topics ranged from financial literacy to coding to re-imagining media! Everyone was tackling the same problem but through a different approach.

It was that day I realized there are so, so many people in the world working towards children having the best education possible. I realized how we had been brought up in such closed doors and have been privileged enough to live the life we are living in. But there’s so much disparity on the other side that we aren’t exposed to which is where education lacks as a whole because if we aren’t exposed to it as often, how will we make a change to the part of the world that needs it.

Everyone in the room was so passionate and intent driven. It meant so much to me as a student to see teachers working towards giving students a better education. If foundations and organizations like these keep growing in efficiency and number, maybe someday the change we want to see will exist!

Written by Aarya Mahapatra

Aarya is a student in Grade 12 at Shiv Nadar School. She is a founding team member and Design Lead at Via News Didi.

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