May 16, 2017

Great Experience Participating in the Seattle University Business Plan Competition

The following is a guest post by Yan Tang.

Last week, our team 701 COFFEE got together again and had a debriefing meeting for the Business Plan Competition which was held on April 18th, 2017 at Seattle University campus. Even if our team was not selected as one of the final four teams, deep in our heart, we all agreed that the competition was not the end of this business; instead, we believe 701 COFFEE is in a right direction to achieve its business goals. This meeting again showed that we are a integrated, passionate and committed team. Our coaches Aaron Rose and Priyanka Kamath and team members Sonam Priyan and Sara Mae all shared their experiences involving in this competition. Everyone proposed many great suggestions to help 701 COFFEE keep grow and thrive in the vibrant community.

As a team leader, taking 701 COFFEE to the Business Plan Competition was a quite challenging but rewarding journey for me. The challenges came from the worries about failing to meet the team's expectations, though none of them meant to give me any pressure leading the team. It was my high standard to pursue a perfect process that challenged me. Other than that, I enjoyed communicating with everyone to put our business plan together, to visualize the business and to know more about our team members.

I have learned tremendously from our teamwork and this competition. But I would like to share two things that impressed me a lot along this journey. The first thing is definitely the TEAM, TEAM, TEAM!! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the team. Two heads are better than one. One person cannot always have the best solution or make the best decision, and the team brainstorming would generate many creative ideas. In a team, we are more likely to perform better and make more sensible decisions by putting heads together than by working alone. What is more, we will always have support and encouragement. Sometimes, when you are unsure about something, or feel incompetent in completing a task, your team will lead a way for you and share their views with you. Our team 701 COFFEE is such a supportive team. From drafting the business plan to Elevator Pitch/Tradeshow, everyone was eager to contribute ideas and do our best. I was so proud of the day when all our team members were wearing our red team T-shirt showing our unity and passion to Business Plan Competition audience.

The second thing is be passionate about what you are doing. Everyone in our team either has full time jobs or full time school, but each of us was highly committed to each strategic meeting, marketing research and the business plan writing. If we did not have enough passion and belief in what we were doing, it was very challenging to work together three-month long when everyone was already having a lot workload from job or school. There is no doubt that some of us might have felt exhausted or confused about the future of the business, but our passion and belief in turning 701 COFFEE into a profitable business constantly motivated our team to work hard, collaboratively and creatively. As a result, everything in our team went incredibly well and smooth.

When preparing for the Elevator Pitch on behalf of the team, I was so unconfident and stressful. I worried so much that I could not do a good job pitching on the stage and let my team down. My mentor Sue Oliver kept encouraging me to unleash my passion and let passion lead my way. She said:" your job is not to feel scared, but to get audience excited by your passion." She proposed a 10 x 10 practice plan to me. Whenever I practice the pitch 10 times, I text her. So I am supposed to text her 10 times to let her know that I have practiced the pitch 100 times with passion and enthusiasm. I ended up practicing 150 times in total, and I also found the confident and passionate self during the practice. I am sure on the day of competition, the pitch I did was the best of all among 150-time practice and got audience excited. I also realized that passion is such a strong power that can lead the team and individuals to overcome hurdles and to keep trying to be good, better and great!! I believe that our team members have learned different things that are valuable to them from this competition. 701 COFFEE team ignited my passion and helped me grow a lot, and I appreciate our team spirit a lot. Everyone asks me if I had fun in this competition. I said, absolutely!! And I am quite sure that I will do it again next year.

We finished this competition, but we will never stop supporting 701 COFFEE, a local family-owned business in Seattle Central District.(Located at 23rd Ave and Cherry Street) We are looking forward to seeing more accomplishments from 701 COFFEE.

Yan Tang is enrolled in the Professional Master of Business Administration (Marketing) program at Seattle University. She also serves as a Business Relationship Management and Small Business Coach at Seattle University's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. Previously, Ms. Tang worked for Manpower in the company's Shanghai, China office where she served in several roles including Service Consultant, On-Site Project Manager for IBM Shanghai, and Recruitment Consultant. Ms. Tang may be contacted at

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