Advice from a CEO: Pitching Products and Ideas as a Female Entrepreneur

Meet Akshita Iyer (WFN Fast Pitch Junior Judge Winner 2019 as well as CEO and founder of Inirv) and learn about her experience as an entrepreneur who pitched a product on the hit show, “Shark Tank”.

Inirv, a company specializing in smart kitchen adaptations, was created to give the consumer peace of mind. Their smart stove and safety sensor knob detects temperature and smoke, allowing you to remotely control your stove and ensure it is always off while you are away. Inspired by her mother who started a kitchen fire by leaving the stove on, each knob interacts with a sensor that has gas, smoke, and motion detectors. If the sensor notices a high level of smoke or gas and does not sense motion in the kitchen for a period of time, it interacts with the stove knobs to turn off the stove. As explained by their mission statement, Inirv “aims to revolutionize the way you interact with your kitchen, and create an ecosystem that allows for easier and safer cooking”.

Akshita took the stage at the Women’s Founders Network competition last year, winning the 2019 Junior Judge award. This year, she returned to WFF and described how winning Fast Pitch helped her boost her company and what she has learned in the process. During the event with Junior Judges (both 2019 and 2020 members), Akshita described the four major things she has learned through her journey as an entrepreneur:

  • Don’t be afraid of failing or getting rejected. (Insert Michael Jordan quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.”) Take feedback, use it to become stronger, and keep going.

  • Those that persevere will be successful. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations; this is the only way for you to grow and learn.

  • It really does take a village. Surround yourself with people interested in helping you. Work on building a network. You never know who will open doors for you in the future. Don’t take anyone for granted.

  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” - Milton Berle. As depicted by her favorite quote, she is a firm believer in not waiting for things to happen. Go out and build opportunities for yourself in order to succeed.

Along with her advice, Akshita also told the Junior Judges about her biggest challenge: getting people to take her seriously and building the confidence to articulate her product/passion well (she had to learn to sell herself AND her product). This seems to be a common link between most female entrepreneurs, as many of the women founders who have spoken during the Junior Judge events have described this as being an obstacle for them. For most, they feel that being a female in business comes with its own set of hardships, and having the confidence in yourself and your ideas can set you apart, as well as build up your credibility as a business owner.

Calling all Shark Tank fans! Akshita shared some behind the scenes details of her experience on the ABC/CNBC hit show, “Shark Tank” (2018), with Junior Judges during the event. (Did you know every participant has to see a psychologist after meeting with the Sharks?!) She told of her journey on the show, the uncertainty of not knowing if you will get a callback, and what she learned about fundraising through the experience.

To start this process, she first attended an open call audition, where she had to give a 30-second product pitch. She also told of the nerve-racking experience of having her product prototype break during shipping, thus not working during one of her first showings. Talk about stress! But even with this, Akshita accredits her experience on the show as having taught her many invaluable lessons that have greatly benefited her as an entrepreneur. Through Shark Tank, she learned how to pitch herself and her ideas through concise language, problem-solving, and fundraising.

Mira Soin is a volunteer with the Women Founders Foundation.