Every good story begins with a problem. If there is no problem, there is no happy ending, no hero to save the day, and really no point to the story at all. Tuesday night, we talked about the importance of storytelling. Our minds are wired to relate more with emotion then factual evidence. “A lot of early startups are investing in you, over your idea,” said Jay Sherer, ‘07. Tuesday, we were able to hear from a true storyteller, Jennifer Vassel (‘18), who emotionally connected with the judges so well, it won her third place in the Zuventurez PITCH competition in 2016. Here is her story:

Many years ago, Jennifer discovered she faced a problem many girls of all ages also faced in our society: an insecurity about their body. At seven years old, Jennifer noticed that the birthmark she had on her back, set her apart from other girls her age. All through high school, she tried to cover it up with makeup or clothes, but nothing could cover up the insecurity she faced underneath the surface. In college, she realized that shaming her body for something that made her unique was hurting her more then exposing her birthmark would. She decided to write a children’s book, to show girls that there is no reason to feel insecure about their uniqueness, and titled her book “I am Unique!” Her book was published, and it did not take long before it started inspiring others. “When people share their stories, you realize you’re not alone in the journey,” she stated. Jennifer has seen the way her book, and the main character Erin, were a leading example to girls older and younger. She plans to continue to write more books to create a series that girls can connect to as well. However that’s not “The End” for Jennifer and “I am Unique!” She hopes that “I am Unique!” and Erin can grow into something bigger than books, by eventually becoming dolls, notebooks, and maybe even a movie. The options are endless for Jennifer and Erin, and we’re excited to see their happily ever after.

The strategy behind connecting emotionally to the judges, we found out, wasn’t really a strategy at all. “I was sharing my story. I was being completely vulnerable,” she stated. You are doing more than pitching an idea, you are telling a story. Our judges want to hear a compelling problem and they want to hear that you have an impactful solution. Everyone’s story is unique, and we want to hear yours!

Jennifer Vassel has inspired many women, young and old. If you would like to purchase her book and offer your support, click the link below: