Business Pitch

Pitching is one of the things that many (first time) founders dread – but unfortunately cannot avoid. You pitch your business every day and to everyone: investors, customers, collaborators, potential employees, and other prospects. As a matter of fact, your success or failure as a startup founder, in most instances, is underscored by this singular act: pitching.

From experience of helping many entrepreneurs prepare their pitches – as well as reviewing/judging hundreds of pitches through my work with organizations like Seedstars World, Adansonia, Impact Hub Accra, etc here are simple hacks for pitching your startup to investors.

  • Know who you’re pitching to

It goes without saying, there are different kinds of pitches for different kinds of people. The way you pitch to an impact investor will definitely differ from the way you pitch to an angel investor. That will equally differ from the way you pitch to a customer or prospective employee. Know your audience and prepare your pitch to highlight the metrics they’re looking for.

The thing a lot of founders do not take into consideration is the panel they are pitching to have seen several hundreds of pitches before. They probably have certain red flags they look out for in pitches. Once you make any of these mistakes – especially at the early stages of your pitch – you’ve automatically shot yourself in the foot.

Again, from my personal experience, judging pitches can be a lot of work sometimes. If your pitch is another boring, rehashed rhetoric, it can be difficult to gain the attention of your audience. So, put the effort to understand what the investor is looking for and see if your business actually meets those criteria. If you just need someone to hear you out, that’s different. But if you need them to take some form of investment decisions, you must put yourself in their shoes. No matter how much someone wishes for you to succeed – as most pitch judges often do – if you don’t connect with him/her, you’ll lose the attention.

  • Start with why

Simon Sinek’s 2009 Ted Talk argued that inspired leaders and organizations, regardless of size and industry communicate from inside out.

Why?

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Sinek’s talk is in consonance with research carried out by neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The team was able to show that reasoning and behavioral control are dependent on different regions of the frontal lobe than the areas called upon when making a decision.

Starting your pitch with your why helps you highlight the purpose, cause or belief that drives your business. This is an easy way to connect with your audience – instead of the conventional approach of hoping your product description will pique their interest.

People want to be a part of something big. Your “why” is how to demonstrate your passion for the problem you’re solving. Think about Nike’s vision of everyday greatness. That vision has gone viral because it encompasses everyone. People who, ordinarily, would have felt left behind can now connect with the feeling of greatness by simply putting on a pair of sneakers.

  • Communicate the problem you’re solving and how you solve it

One of the things I notice from many pitches I judged is: A lot of founders spend so much time talking about several irrelevant things except the problem they’re solving. Don’t waste your time with too many irrelevant details. Tell your audience exactly what you’re building.

  1. Highlight the reason why this problem is persistent and requires urgent attention.
  2. Explain how you’re solving it and who you’re solving it for.
  3. Talk about the uniqueness of your solution from that of your competition.
  4. Talk about the size of the market you’re addressing and the potential size you can capture in the foreseeable future. As Patrick McKenzie, a developer at Stripe Atlas rightly said, “venture investors are looking for companies which can sustain revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, minimum. “Niche” products where the ceiling is millions of dollars are only interesting to the extent they unlock adjacent, bigger markets.”
  5. If you’ve already launched, talk about your users. Your success stories might be one of the key differentiators for your pitch – include testimonials or news features if you’re giving a powerpoint presentation. Use graphs or charts to show your growth and traction as it’ll be easy to comprehend.

Remember, your investor might not understand all the intricacies involved in delivering your solution. Avoid all jargons and buzzwords. Make it easy for people to understand how your service starts and ends. Don’t make anyone figure out your key points. Tell them directly.

  • Talk about your financials

Gary Vee was right, how you make your money is more important than how much you make. Clearly, explain the costs involved in starting and running your venture to actualize the key milestones over a period of time. From my experience, there are two key things many investors want to see from your metrics:

  1. Value creation. That is, can the business make a profit and does it work on a per-customer basis at any point in time?
  2. Scalability. That is, what is the size of the market the entrepreneur is addressing and how attractive is it?

Here’s an insight: your business model should tell a crisp story of the user economics in terms of customer acquisition cost (CAC) and long-term value (LTV). Therefore, show how the business makes money. Highlight the costs involved in acquiring users, and make a clear projection of your revenue.

Even if you’re still early in your journey with no traction (quantitative evidence of product/market fit) whatsoever, it’s important that you demonstrate you have the potential of generating revenue and making a data-driven decision. But if you do have traction, ensure you calibrate and over-index on that. Know your numbers: revenues, growth margins, profitability, etc. This article has extensive information on startup metrics you should pay attention to.

The caveat, however, is to be careful how you site your financial projections. Manipulating your revenue is fraudulent behavior or a sign of incompetence.

  • Do talk about yourself and your team

It’s been said many times that investors do not necessarily invest in a business idea but in the entrepreneur. It’s true. Business ideas like Uber, Facebook, Airbnb or even Amazon did not look impressive to a lot of people at conception. Their teams built them to what we know them to be today. Therefore, ensure you do not sell yourself short!

If you have built something exceptionally well or achieved any form of success in the past, talk about it. It does not necessarily have to be in line with the business you’re pitching. Maybe you finished your college course work while building a startup: talk about it!

Entrepreneurship requires an awful amount of discipline and commitment and investors are mindful of this. They will always use your previous success as plausibility for success in your new venture. The same goes for any history of failure you decide to share with them. Failure can only be a plus if it resulted in something meaningful and worth talking about.

Further, ensure you highlight the complementary skills and expertise of your team members. That means: Your team should not be skewed to one direction. If this is the case, be sure to mention your plans for (or how you’re) balancing the skills.


Don’t just pitch an idea, a prototype is better than several pitches.

If you have a prototype, do bring it to on your pitch day. Understand your fundamentals and handle your pitch like a conversation. It’s great to have aspirations but your pitch will always be weighed on a scale of your business strategy. Don’t pitch the product, pitch your business. A lot of us – entrepreneurs – spend so much time discussing the product or service but say so little about the business. Also, be specific. Know what you’re asking for or the exact amount of money you want. In the same vein, before you send or deliver any pitch, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of the investor. Many investors want to see that you understand the investment risk.

Finally, if you’re delivering a powerpoint presentation, make your slides as easy-to-read as possible. Don’t clutter the slides with unnecessary information. Keep images and graphics to the minimum and review your stuff before your pitch day. Use this Y Combinator Seed Deck template to structure your deck.

At the end of the day, a pitch is not a war. Try to have fun while keeping your eyes on the goal and on the judges. Be authentic and be yourself. Even if you miss your lines, as many people often do, don’t stop! Keep pitching and if things do not turn out the way you expected, there’s always another opportunity. Don’t take rejection too hard.

My best wishes on your next pitch!


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About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. He is a big believer in people and has trained hundreds of young entrepreneurs on how to find their purpose, actualize their goals and tell compelling stories about themselves and their work. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Accra, Ghana  (July 20, 2018) – As part of the inaugural Student Entrepreneurship Week Ghana taking place from July 26-28, 2018 at British Council & Kempinski Hotel, Stars From All Nations partnered with Echo VC PartnersVenture Capital for Africa3rdfloor Digital, Workshed Africa and MEST Africa to launch Young Money Business Pitch competition.

The purpose of the pitch competition is to give student entrepreneurs with technology-based businesses or business ideas access to startup funding, business development, and marketing opportunity support.

After critically reviewing the 51 applications, our judges whittled down the shortlist to 10 business ideas. These businesses were then shared on SFAN’s Facebook page for a very transparent public voting. In no particular order, below are the top five student entrepreneurs that made the final list:

Amma Sarkodie, CEO & Founder, HealthOnline

Business:
Health Online is a premier pharmacy application in Ghana that aims to connect the end-user directly to the pharmacist in order to digitalize the selling and buying of medicine and foster stronger bonds and interactions among customers and pharmacists.

Problem solved:

Most Pharmacies are not mobile. Thus the customer in need of medicine has to find a way of covering the distance between himself and the pharmacies. Health Online is an intermediary service provider to connect the customer(s) to pharmacies to reduce the costs, time-consuming and cumbersome nature of client moving to a pharmacy to purchase drugs.

Dziwornu Kofi Norbert, Co-founder, KofiExpress

Business:

Kofiexpress is a one-stop-shop online real estate platform where people can list properties for sale, rent, lease, have access to a wide range of services such as financial, legal, property development, improvement, management etc, an inbuilt online shop for products such as construction tools, materials etc, virtual technologies to help people build their dream properties virtually.

Problem solved:

Kofiexpress solves the stress people go through to have access to products and services in the real estate and construction industry. They also aim at solving the inconveniences people face outsourcing their investments and investments in the hands of third-party exploits.

Baffour Adu Boampong, Founder, AppGharage

Business:

AppGharage seeks to engage students & fresh graduates in internship opportunities working on real-world Software engineering projects.

Problem Solved:

AppGharage seeks to address the increasing need for software engineers to pioneer the growth of technology whilst reducing youth unemployment.

Rodney Assan, Founder, Uni-Connect

Business:

Uni-Connect is a web application that computerizes the college/university application process to make it simpler. The intended audience for this web application will be students who wish to apply to any of the universities [in Ghana]. Secondary audiences will include both university and high school administrators who wish to upload relevant information pertaining to their institutions.

Problem solved:

The primary objective is to create a suitable interface to help prospective students to research and apply to the universities of their choice in a simpler and shorter way. By eliminating the need to travel the long distance to submit envelopes enclosing application forms and essays and eliminating the need to have to make trips to the bank to make payments, this application centralizes the entire university application process to make it a less cumbersome one.

Michael, Samuel and Collins, the Hypacart Team

Business:

Hypacart is a multi-vendor e-commerce platform, where shops and service providers on and off KNUST campus can come under one umbrella and be connected directly to their consumers (students).

Problem solved:

The cost and stress of getting access to shops and services on campus and the high cost of items on campus as well as the stress of going to the market to buy foodstuff to cook during the weekend. Shops and event advertisers won’t have to go through the stress of selling tickets or posting fliers around campus.


What happens next?

These entrepreneurs will battle it out before an expert panel of judges at SFAN Business Breakfast Meeting on July 28. Three Young Money Business Pitch winners will stand a chance of getting equity funding, an opportunity to join MEST Africa training program, as well as up to $3k worth of business development and market opportunity support (Ts&Cs Apply).


To find more information on the selection criteria, click here.

Join thought leaders and investors at the Student Entrepreneurship Week at British Council and Kempinski Hotel. You can get tickets at the event website.

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The semi-finalists have been chosen!

SFAN (Stars From All Nations), with support from MEST Africa, 3rdfloor Digital, Workshed Africa, Venture Capital for Africa and Echo VC Partners, launched the Young Money Business Pitch to help enterprising students in any accredited Ghanaian University get access to business development, marketing, and funding support.

After many submissions, ideas were whittled down and 10 semi-finalists were selected. It was a tough decision, with most of the entrepreneurs putting in great pitch, but we could only choose 10 for this stage!

Here are our top ten businesses:

  • Ama Serwaa Sarkodie-Mensah (University of Ghana, Law(LLB), Third-year)

Business:
Health Online is the premier pharmacy application in Ghana that aims to connect the end-user directly to the pharmacist in order to digitalize the selling and buying of medicine and foster stronger bonds and interactions among customers and pharmacists.

Problem solved:

Most Pharmacies are not mobile. Thus the customer in need of medicine has to find a way of covering the distance between himself and the pharmacies. Health Online is an intermediary service provider to connect the customer(s) to pharmacies to reduce the costs, time-consuming and cumbersome nature of client moving to a pharmacy to purchase drugs. 

Progress:

Health Online has developed the idea to an extent to cater for any issues that may arise. They have developers on board who are seeing to the development and availability of the app on android play store for initial users to get access to it. They have been in contact with pharmacies and also have conducted surveys.

  • Justin Uto-Dieu (Lancaster University, Final year)

Business:

Zuduo solves the success challenges faced by creatives and artists in different areas and gives organizations and companies a tool to find talented individuals to contact for artistic projects.

Problem Solved:

The platform aims to bridge the supply and demand gap with regard to upcoming artists and international success and acknowledgment.  

Progress:

A working android demo has been developed with basic social media functionality like posts and private messaging.

  • Maxwell Sam (University of Mines and Technology)

Business:

Bus Gem is a bus ticketing and bus seat reservation app. Easy, Simple and Really cool to use. Passengers book for a bus ticket at any time, anywhere and at their own comfort zone. Pay into a designated mobile money number and get a QR code to be verified with a QR scanner before boarding.

Problem Solved:

Mainly passengers need to visit bus terminals to purchase a ticket for a particular date. They, therefore, have to travel to the bus terminals on the day of departure to board and that just a waste of time and money. What the app tend to solve is to allow passengers to be able to make advance ticket purchases at their comfort zone and board on the day of departure.

Progress:

The app is currently ready and being used by students of the University of Mines and Technology. Students are able to book and reserve a seat with STC intercity buses.

  • Rodney Assan (Lancaster University Ghana, Law Year 2)

Business:

Uni-Connect is a web application that seeks to computerize the college/university application process to make it simpler. The intended audience for this web application will be students who wish to apply to any of the universities [in Ghana]. Secondary audiences will include both university and high school administrators who wish to upload relevant information pertaining to their institutions. 

Problem:

The primary objective is to create a suitable interface to help prospective students to research and apply to the universities of their choice in a simpler and shorter way. By eliminating the need to travel the long distance to submit envelopes enclosing application forms and essays and eliminating the need to have to make trips to the bank to make payments, this application centralizes the entire university application process to make it a less cumbersome one.

Progress:

Documentation of the web application has begun, and market research is underway.

  • Wisdom Foli (Institute Of Chartered Accountants Ghana, part two student)

Business:

NUFFE accounting and consultancy is a business which is established to carry out both accounting and consultancy services in Shai Osudoku and its environs in Ghana.

Problem solved:

Under the Shai Osudoku district, businesses don’t keep proper records of accounts, they lack qualified accountants to perform the accounting job hence they don’t comply with Tax laws in the country.

Progress:

The business has commenced operations with a team of three. 

  • Dziwornu Kofi Norbert (University For Development Studies, Integrated Development Studies)

Business:

Kofiexpress is a one-stop-shop online real estate platform where people can list properties for sale, rent, lease, have access to a wide range of services such as financial, legal, property development, improvement, management etc, an inbuilt online shop for products such as construction tools, materials etc, virtual technologies to help people build their dream properties virtually.

Problem:

Kofiexpress solves the stress people go through to have access to products and services in the real estate and construction industry. They also aim at solving the inconveniences people face outsourcing their investments and investments in the hands of third-party exploits. A one-stop shop where people can easily have access to the best and right products and services from trusted services providers.

Progress:

Kofiexpress is currently at the idea development stage. Our website is 90% complete. Business has also been registered. They also have some partners on board and are still working on getting more partners and service providers.

  • Baffour Adu Boampong (Knutsford University College, Computer Science, 3rd Year)

Business:

AppGharage seeks to engage students & fresh graduates in internship opportunities working on real-world Software engineering projects.

Problem Solved:

AppGharage seeks to address the increasing need for software engineers to pioneer the growth of technology whilst reducing youth unemployment.

Progress:

AppGharage began operation on 1st May, training and working on projects with 3 other students.

  • Nyame Michael (KNUST, Petroleum Engineering, level 300)

Business:

Hypacart is a multi-vendor e-commerce platform, where shops and service providers on and off KNUST campus can come under one umbrella and be connected directly to their consumers (students). 

Problem:

The cost and stress of getting access to shops and services on campus and the high cost of items on campus as well as the stress of going to the market to buy foodstuff to cook during the weekend. Shops and event advertisers won’t have to go through the stress of selling tickets or posting fliers around campus.

Progress:

They have organized a survey on the needs and views of students concerning this project, which has proved very fruitful. The business website is still under construction and is about 50% complete. They are currently recruiting suppliers that will render their services or sell their products online. They have secured a partnership with Unilever Ghana (NAN Group), and in talks with Woodin, Topman Shoes, Watch and Dine, Avros and other business firms. They have also partnered with other shoes and electronics suppliers on and off KNUST campus.

  • Eric Vondee (University of Cape Coast, B.Sc. Actuarial Science, Level 400)

Business:

My Home Teacher is a business organization that connects teachers to parents who need private tuition for their wards at home.

Problem solved:

For a high-quality education in Africa and the world at large, there must be a one-to-one learning environment for students that are weak in their academics. My Home Teacher provides parents the opportunity to give their wards a one-on-one teacher-student experience in the comfort of their homes.

Progress:

My Home Teacher is in the sales stage. My Home Teacher is making an impact in the lives of 50 students socially. Students are being trained not only in their academics but also trained on how to be entrepreneurial.

  • Kwabena Baffour Awuah (Kumasi Technical University, Pharmacy Technician, Level 300)

Business:

High Schools Society is a startup company with a virtual community of students and a digital and student networking service based in Accra, Ghana. The aim of High Schools Society is to create a huge brand for quality educational networking and innovations through the establishment of a student community through which high school students can interact with each other on all areas of student life. 

Problem solved:

The goal of High Schools Society is to establish a virtual community of young boys and girls, mostly between the ages of 7 and 19 for community service, career orientation, personal development, and networking.

Progress:

Currently, High Schools Society runs advertising services, writing services and social media management and marketing services to institutions and persons through our digital platforms.


What happens next?

The above businesses will be listed on SFAN Facebook Page for a public voting starting tomorrow, Monday, June 25 and end on Saturday, June 30.

Top five voted business ideas shall proceed to the final stage to pitch before an expert panel of judges at SFAN Business Breakfast Meeting on July 28. Three Young Money Business Pitch winners will stand a chance of getting equity funding, an opportunity to join MEST Africa incubator, as well as up to $3k worth of business development and market opportunity support (Ts&Cs Apply).


To find more information on the selection criteria, click here.

Join thought leaders at the Student Entrepreneurship Week at British Council and Kempinski Hotel. You can get tickets at the event website.


Special thanks to our judges: Tobi Lafinhan from MEST, Sterre Nomazwe Mkatini from EWB, Andrew Bimpong from Workshed, Amma Aboagye from USAID.

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Accra, Ghana  (April 20, 2018) – As part of the Student Entrepreneurship Week Ghana taking place from July 26-28, 2018, Stars From All Nations has partnered with Echo VC Partners, Venture Capital for Africa, 3rdfloor Digital and Workshed Africa to launch Young Money Business Pitch competition.

This pitch competition is specifically designed to give student entrepreneurs with scalable businesses or business ideas access to pipeline opportunities for growing their businesses or launching their ideas.

We shall shortlist the top ten business ideas from the pool and open the selection process for a public vote in choosing the top five businesses that will advance to the next stage. Voting will take place on SFAN’s Facebook page.

The top five business ideas will pitch before an expert panel of judges at SFAN Business Breakfast Meeting – The Graduation on July 28. Three Young Money Business Pitch winners will stand a chance of getting equity funding as well as up to $3k worth of business development and market opportunity support (T&C Apply).

The judge criteria for the selection processes can be found here.

If you are a student at any accredited Ghanaian University with a technology-based business or business idea capable of creating tremendous social impact, if you have what it takes to be Ghana’s next big business owner, this is for you!!

Applications open from April 20th to May 31st.

Apply now

For more information, contact us via email: info@sfanonline.org


 

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