For Krisztina “Z” Holly, the sky is the limit. Not only is Holly an incredible tech entrepreneur, engineer, and innovator, she's also a licensed skydiver and scuba instructor with a passion for creation. Named champion of free enterprise by Forbes in 2009, Holly now runs the podcast, “The Art of Manufacturing” where she aims to put the manufacturing process under a different light, in order to popularize the importance of it. Cited as the creator of the first TEDx event, Holly is also the Founder and Chief Instigator of MAKE IT IN LA, introduced after working as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for LA Mayor Garcetti.
Holly started her impressive career with engineering degrees from MIT in hand. Fifteen years ago at an alumni cocktail party, she had the opportunity to lead an innovation center at MIT, which eventually led her to found the USC Stevens Institute For Innovation. It was through these leadership opportunities that Holly realized she loves helping other people make an impact on the world with their ideas.
When she started the initiative at USC, Holly said her focus was figuring out how to stimulate such a large and diverse university. One challenge, Holly notes, was coming into a a large organization that already had its own traditions. "Where do I need to get to and what do I need to get to that point?,” she said, is a question that she continually asked.
Eventually Holly was invited onto the National Advisory Council on Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Obama administration, which she said was provided the opportunity to enact policy and get the community on board.
Next, Holly was invited to become a part of the World Economic Forum Council, which helps identify global trends and focuses on global impact and the power of convening the different nations. Talk about a resume builder!
After realizing that LA is the largest manufacturing center the US, but 58% of factories in LA county are sitting idle and unused part of the time, Holly aimed to connect the dots.
That’s exactly where Holly comes in. With her work, the main mission is to support and connect educational programs for businesses and manufacturers to meet each other and figure out who is the best fit. It so happens that the people Holly interviews in her podcast are mostly women, which is another white space she saw in the business world.
According to Holly, creation and innovation are different, as creativity means coming up with new ideas; and innovation is turning those ideas into real impact.
So, how to pitch a project to investors?
The first step is to pick the right audience. Ask yourself, who are you pitching and why are you pitching them? Figure out the pain points of your product and listen to the feedback that is given instead of continuing to try and sell your product. Everyone is different, so it's most important to figure out why your audience should care and that’s only happens by listening.
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In 2016, Renee Wang sold her home in Bejing for $500,000 to fund her company, CastBox. Two months later, she landed her first investment. Just a half hour after hearing her pitch, she was offered one million dollars. By mid-2017, CastBox raised a total of $16 million in funding. CastBox's user numbers at that point? Seven million. Fast forward to today. Renee Wang of CastBox announces a $13.5 million Series B round of financing, bringing her funding total to a tidy $29 million. CastBox is now serving more than 15 million users.