Two-Time Champion: Arts Entrepreneurship Student Sam Lankford

AMAE 3387, Attracting Capital, has two contests as part of the original curriculum. Arts Entrepreneurship student Samuel Lankford won both.

Comments By SMU student Samuel Lankford:

1. Our strategy that enabled us to win The Marble Game was taking the time to sit down and think about the contacts that we had and who we knew would help us. We also realized early on that it wasn’t about the object that we had but the story behind it and what the benefit of it would be in the long run. You would be amazed what people will do when they know that their contribution will not only help you win a contest but is also going to benefit someone in need. The key to success is to focus on your story, fine tune your pitch, and know what to say in order to connect with the person you’re pitching to so you can really pull on their heart strings. And most importantly, know your audience because if you know what makes them tick then you automatically have an in and know exactly what to say.

2. The biggest factors that lead me to win the semester pitch contest were really sitting down and taking the time to think about a filling a need through innovation and convenience. After coming up with my idea to make an app and a website to revolutionize the way people experience car repair, I sat down and thought about how I could relate this issue to my audience and really bring this issue out into the light. I’ve always been a huge believer that actions speak louder than words and I would say the same thing goes for visual elements as well. That’s why I started off my pitch with a question and then followed that question with 4 different visual elements to hook them on the idea and keep their attention while making it relatable. People always enjoy looking at pictures more than looking at words and if you can get their attention in the beginning, then you’re much more likely to keep that attention for the rest of your presentation. Another thing I would say: practice, practice, practice because even though for a person like me who finds public speaking fun and feels that it just kind of comes naturally, I found that the more I practiced the more it started to come to me naturally and the more it began to flow. Finally, be excited and passionate about your idea because if you’re excited other people will be excited too.

3. The true value I derived from the Attracting Capital class was realizing that even though I’m still in college I actually have the means and capability to start my own business and come up with my own ideas. Through the various games and exercises in class, I realized that when you sit down and just put your mind to work, you can really come up with some very innovative and creative ideas that you would’ve never thought you could have dreamed of. Then by using the skills you learn throughout the semester, you can actually begin to start your own company and pursue making your ideas become a reality. After coming up with the idea for my app, this class gave me the courage to approach my friend and begin programming the application. As of today, we have come up with a couple of prototypes and our on our way to making a beta test version of the app. So if I had to sum up what I learned from this class in one sentence, it would be, “The skies the limit because the only person that can set your limitations is yourself.”

4. For future students in this class, I would say to dream big and to not be afraid to share your ideas–even if you think they might not be that good because they might just turn out to be amazing. When I first came up with my idea for the pitch contest I thought it was just so-so and that it was nothing really spectacular. Then upon pitching it in front on the judges, I learned that it could be a multi-million dollar idea and how innovative it really was. The good thing about this class is that it opens you up to take criticism from your peers and through that criticism you can form new outlooks and new ideas that in the end can lead to something great. My advice would be to not be afraid of criticism and be open to other peoples’ opinions and ideas. Also, don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and propose an idea that just might be crazy because sometimes crazy turns into genius. If you really put in the effort you can take a lot of great things from this course and build connections that will be very helpful later on in life with your fellow students. One of the most important things you can take from this class is “It’s not what you know but who you know.”

One game asks students to compete to see who can acquire the most value as a result of trading up from a marble. Samuel and partner raised $5,400 from a marble. The second was a pitch contest before a panel of expert judges. Twenty-one students competed. Arts Entrepreneurship student Samuel Lankford won both contests. In this post, Samuel offers words of advice for future students and gives insight into his wins. In The Marble Game, he collaborated with fellow student Tala Duwaji. To see another student’s testimonial, click here

Click on these links for more on the Arts Entrepreneurship minor and the department of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship at Meadows School of the Arts.

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