Speed Pitching – The Dragon’s Den

I went to an excellent event in Tauranga the other night – Speed Pitching.  Organised by the Tauranga Writer’s Group, it was highly entertaining.

Twelve anxious contestants took the stage to pitch their various fiction and non-fiction writing projects and were then queried by the judges.  There was none of the sarcasm, superiority or cruel questions of the televised Dragon’s Den and all the pitches were presented with enthusiasm.

The judges/dragons were a polite panel of learned New Zealanders: 

Joanne Rye McGregor, a local film director who also organised the local film collective to film the event.   

Sue Emms, author and creative writing tutor at Waiariki Institute of Technology.  Read about their excellent online writing courses  at www.waiariki.ac.nz  – I took the Focus on Fiction course there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. 
The last judge was Mark Houlahan, described as an academic, literary expert and reviewer.  He also happens to be a senior lecturer at Waikato university.

Chairing the night and cheering the nervous contestants was the charming Tommy ‘Kapai’ Wilson – writer and columnist – who not only introduced us to each person pitching, told us hilarious anecdotes and teased the dragons, but threw in a Te Reo Maori lesson in the process. I loved the way he kept encouraging us, the reserved kiwi audience, to pakipaki (clap).

The audience of sixty or so people voted, the scores were tallied and a people’s choice award was given to Tauranga Writer’s group member Lee Murray for her sassy presentation which included a happy mix of running, pigtails and chick lit.

The overall winner, awarded guaranteed reading by a publisher and a year’s free mentoring to finish the project, was Suzanne Hansen.  Her non-fiction project is a book based on her involvement and sightings of UFO’s in New Zealand.  She appeared on 60 minutes and has been lobbying the Defence Minister to release NZ’s classified UFO files. After more than a year these files have been declassified and sent to archives. 

Although the public will not have access, there is the possibility that she may be allowed to view them at some stage under certain conditions. Check out her website: www.ufocusnz.org.nz

She has an excellent platform for a non-fiction book and the judges made a fair decision. 

We’re hoping speed pitching will become an annual event and who knows, I might even give it a go next year!

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