Written by Hope Seasholes
Anca Castillo and Cary Lopez are inspirational women and entrepreneurs as well as members of the Venture Café Community. Through their company Design Convo, they are helping us to better communicate through conversations, as well as rethinking the way we run meetings in an exponential way. If you are interested in learning more about their experience at Venture Cafe and how they came to WIN Venture Madness Fast Pitch Competition, then keep reading!
How did you hear about Venture Café?
We first learned about VC through word of mouth from Phil Gerschkovich, the President of Cooper Aerial Surveys Co. He has been a great friend and mentor to us as we have launched the company. He highly recommended we come to VentureCafe Phoenix, and here we are!
What does VCPhX mean to you?
Anca: To me it means opportunity. Opportunity to connect; opportunity to learn. Opportunity to test out words and ideas with like-minded, but very different, people!
Cary: And not only test them out, but in a place that feels like it’s safe to test them out. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful.
Have you had any memorable connections at VCPhX?
Absolutely! We’ve met a couple of people who have become mentors and advocates, and also folks who have stretched and challenged our thinking. One of those folks in particular has been Aaron Bare, who encouraged us to think “exponentially” and really helped us take our ideas to a level we wouldn’t have thought possible.
What is DesignConvo?
Originally, we thought DesignConvo was a training consultancy, and our mission was to transform the way people work together by focusing on how we communicate by designing conversations for impact and change. However, since meeting Aaron and others through places like VentureCafe Phoenix, we have transitioned to thinking of ourselves as a software company that blends the art and science of conversation design to revolutionize the future of collaborative work.
Can you discuss your pitch experience at Venture Café during Venture Madness?
We decided to apply on a whim, honestly. We thought, “we have nothing to lose!” We know we have something special, and we wanted to get some feedback from people. Did they get the concept? Could we explain it in a way they understood? Did they see the value in it? We felt if we could walk away with some answers to those questions, that in itself would be of huge value.
When we opened the email saying, “Congratulations, you’ve been selected,” We were both shocked and delighted. We began to develop and refine our story. We knew that in order to have an impactful and engaging pitch, we had to have a good story, and we had to have practiced it enough for it to land. We only had 5 minutes to pitch!
Aaron was a huge help in pushing us to think bigger. Exponentially bigger, in fact. In a span of two weeks, we wrote and rewrote and refined our pitch four times; in fact, the end product looked nothing like what we started with. Anca practiced tirelessly, both with an audience and alone.
The night of the pitch, we arrived in matching outfits (because, of course we did), and everything was effortlessly set up for us. The VentureCafe Phoenix and Venture Madness staff even had time to greet us ahead of time, ensure we had everything we needed, and made us feel welcomed and excited for the night ahead. The event itself ran smoothly, and was a fantastic environment for sharing feedback and creating opportunities. It’s a moment in our venture journey we will never forget. And hearing all of the pitches was inspiring, both from the brilliance of ideas in the room, and also how different people craft their own stories and pitches.
Any final thoughts on VCPhX?
Hearing all the brilliant pitches confirmed that we are in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. We haven’t been part of this community for long – we first came in late October – but it has already been a transformative experience. And each time we come, we meet new people, deepen relationships, and learn new things.
Learn more about Design Convo here.
Join the movement of innovators building the center of gravity here in the Valley. Join us every Thursday and meet people like Anca and Cary, 5-7 PM, free to attend, free parking,
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