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Startups: Before The Grand Pitch

Pitching
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Pitching competitions for startups have become quite frequent these days with investors hungry for brilliant and prolific ideas. In Nairobi alone, every other month pitch deck competitions are held and it is fascinating how techie these ideas/solutions are.

Recently, Jan 2018, I attended the GoGettaz competition championed by a man I admire greatly and was humbled to finally meet, Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet and Kwese Inc.  If you’ve never heard of him, it’s not too late.  Do a reality check on yourself because this is the kind of person you ought to know and feed from his pool of wisdom as far as business and integrity are concerned.

Back to the competition, more than 3000 people pitched their business ideas and 12 made it to the final pitch competition in Nairobi, Kenya.  Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, DRC and South Africa were well represented.  A few things that I noted during the whole event though, most of the competitors had brilliant ideas but lacked some of these important factors every Start-up founder MUST consider:

 

  1. Scalability

Any serious investor will ask how scalable your business is.  I’ve seen pitchers freeze at the mention of this and a disappointed look from the investors.

 

Startups: Scalability
Startups: Scalability

 

In simple terms, this is the ability of the business to grow.  In the sense that, when demand increases or when the business is growing, performance and revenue will not be compromised.  The business can handle growth because it has well placed infrastructure to do so.  In other words, a scalable business should be able to increase its revenues while maintaining its operation costs or minimally higher as opposed.  Contrary, a business that increases its revenues by increasing its operation costs at the same rate is not at all scalable.  Something to note (Shall be discussed in my next article), Growth is not equivalent Scalability nor Profitability.

 

 2. Originality

 

Startups: Originality
Startups: Be Original, copies fade too fast!

 

I know what you are thinking.  No idea is original in this time and age and yes, nothing is new under the sun.  Well, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Originality is the Freshness of aspect, design or style.  It is okay to borrow ideas but what makes one stand out is what you do with it.  Be innovative, creative, make an existing concept fresher by modifying it or improving an aspect of it or even the whole of it.  That is the idea of originality.  Originality in business ideas sure makes you stand out.  Above all, be realistic.

3. Social Impact

Every action produces and effect.  Every action by a business/organization affects the society positively or negatively.  That is Social Impact.

Startups: Add Value in every way possible
Startups: Add Value in every way possible

 

We live at a time where doing business and making money is not enough.  What’s trendy is making money and having a positive impact to the society while at it.  In fact, the most successful and brilliant businesses were birthed with a mind-set to create positive social impact.  For instance, Facebook.  Its major goal was to connect people their loved ones wherever and whenever.

4. Sustainability

In very simple terms, sustainability is the ability of a business (in this case) to maintain a process over a long period of time.  For instance, when coming up with a business idea, ask yourself such questions:

  • Will my business survive the test of time?
  • Can my business withstand external factors like Technology?
  • Is my business flexible to change?

There are many other things to consider while pitching but these four are mandatory.

Always Always speak numbers while at it.


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