Important lesson learned from CS3216 - Pitching

Looking back my entire CS3216 journey, what I have learned most? Software developing skills? Software security? Although I did learn a lot for my technical skills, I felt the most important things I have learnt in CS3216, is pitching.

Pitching is everywhere in CS3216. In the very beginning, we first need to pitch ourselves in the module application to get a place in the CS3216 class. Later, we need to pitch in class to find teammates to work together, or find interesting projects to work on for different assignments. Even the entire assignment 2 is all about pitching: talking the good, the bad, and the ugly of an existing commercial software, in presentation and in blogs. We met different pitchers coming to the class talking about their stories. We have our own classmates pitching about their ideas for the final project. Then in the final project, we need to always pitch our idea to lecturer, our classmates, and not to mention the evil STePS (School of Computing Term project showcase) that you are going to pitch to different people every seconds.

I am not a good pitcher, but in this module, I have to jump out of my comfort zone and talk to strangers. In order to promote our final project, FitMi, to different people. I learned how to write app advertisements and ask my friends to share them on social networks. We have to think about strategies to attract people to use our application. We went to different canteens and places around to ask random people if they want to try out our application. Most of the answers are no, and only a few who are interested promise they will take a look. Interestingly, I found talking to stranger and pitching a product to them becomes a very cool thing. You develop an awesome product, and you are proud to tell people about it. There is nothing embarrassed about.

During the project showcase, I pitched our FitMi application to different visitors for a whole night. I felt exhausted and extremely thirsty after this, but I was really happy. Not just be happy about winning the first prize, more importantly, I am really happy to see how people like the product after I pitched to them. They came with curiosity because they have no idea about your product and want to know more. They left with surprise and satisfying because they saw how awesome your product is. That’s the one of the best result you can have for a pitching (of course, another possible best result is an investor loves your app and pays you $1M in cash for using it).

Colin, our lecturer, made a good theory about pitching your application.

What’s the most terrible thing could happen when you ask a stranger to try out your application? They will say no. That’s it.

If you keep silent about your product, no one will know it. If you go out and ask people for using your product, regardless of the result, at least some will know it. Why be afraid of a rejection?

There is an really inspiring video about the surprising results after asking people and get 100 Days of Rejection. After watching the video, I realize how friendly people are if you ask them for help. Pitching to stranger could be one of the simplest thing you could ask from them, right?

Before CS3216, as a foreign student whose English is not perfect studying a “no-need-much-talking” major (yes, Computer Science), I am not good at talking to people, not to mention pitching a software product. To be honest, I don’t like to pitch. I believe that as a software engineer, making a very good product is our main task. Good product will be found out by others eventually, I believed.

Well, but not really.

In Facebook Singapore Hackathon 2016, me and three other friends developed a product for helping color-blindness people to tell color. We named it Dalton, after John Dalton who first described the color-blindness in history. We spent the whole night researching on how to make the color (red and green) to be distinguishable by color-blindness people, and came up with our own prototype that successfully transforms the red and green color into other colors that color-blindness people could perceive. We won the third prize of the hackathon, but what excited us most was there was one student who suffered from color-blindness in the hackathon, and by using our product he could really tell the difference and he was really surprised and happy about it. At that moment, we are really proud of our work as it can really help people and solve their problem. We released and published Dalton to the app store after the Hackathon so people could download and use them in their real life. When we almost forget our work, last week, a headline in Engadget, a world-famous technology website, catched our eyes: Microsoft’s iOS app augments hues for color-blind folks.

Exercise me??? Isn’t this look exactly like what we have built in the Hackathon? :w After reading the news and seeing the app, well, isn’t this exactly what we have built in the Hackathon? And we are more powerful than it in some ways… I shared the news to my Facebook complaining nobody found out we have built a better one, and soon Colin, our lecturer, replied:


Right, we didn’t do any marketing for this useful project at all. We should blame ourselves. Good product will not be always found out by others eventually. If no one has the sharp eye to find out what awesome things you have built, then you should be the one who assists the world to find them. Wished I could realized about how important pitching is earlier when we participated the hackathon :P.

I think learning to pitch effectively is definitely an important skills in life. It would be a damn useful skill that benefits you for a lifetime. Thanks to CS3216. It’s an amazing class indeed.