In general terms, volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons that could be considered self-serving.
– Volunteering – Wikipedia
Seemed Like a Good Deal
OK, I admit it! I didn’t volunteer for altruistic reasons. I volunteered because I’m a Starving Startup & wanted a free ticket to International Startup Festival – Montreal, Canada, July 13-15th 2011. Eight hours of volunteer work, showing people around, checking badges, setting up & tearing down venues. But it didn’t stop at eight hours.
While others may have stripped out of their Volunteer t-shirt, I wore mine like a badge of honor & kept going back to Guy, asking for more things to do. It was a blast! Donning the t-shirt gave me carte blanche to approach anyone, or, be anywhere. Before I knew it, I was introducing myself to familiar Twitter avatars, sharing insights & new found friends left, right & centre – even up & down!
By far my favorite & long lasting experience was the Elevator Pitch. Knowing in advance how things were supposed to work, I planned my pitch very carefully; 30 seconds down to pitch & 30 seconds up, biting my tongue, absorbing feedback from investors/advisers. And as the Volunteering Gods would have it, Guy asked me to operate the elevator for 30 minutes, so I had the benefit of watching 12 other canaries in the coal mine.
Montreal Startup Fest Elevator Pitches from Ondi Timoner on Vimeo.
The Gift That Keeps Giving & Giving
During the event, I met up with Ian Jeffrey – another volunteer, who also happens to be the General Manager of FounderFuel & a Venture Partner at Real Ventures. And while I often exchanged tweets with Ian in the past, there’s nothing better than meeting face-to-face. Which in turn probably helped when I volunteered to be a Founder Fuel Mentor.
So at yesterday’s launch event, instead of trying to pitch investors & advisers, I had the humbling experience of sitting along side of them, listening & doing my best to contribute feedback to those in the accelerator program. (As a matter of fact, Steve Abrams was in my group & was also one of the advisers for my turn at the Startup Festival’s Elevator Pitch.)
Photo credit Eva Blue