How to improve your business pitch
The Chivas Venture social entrepreneur competition concluded in LA this summer. This region’s representative was Now Money, a fintech company that developed a remittance app accessible to those who don’t qualify for a bank account. Co-founder Katharine Budd shares her lessons from the competition.
1. The power of collaboration
The Dutch entrant, African Clean Energy, makes a smokeless cooking stove. That could solve the huge problem in Africa of smoke inhalation, which kills more people every year than Aids or malaria. The company wants to put together a finance package to make the stoves available on credit, so that’s a potential partnership. There were lots of these collaborative ideas between the finalists, which shows the power of networks.
2. Don’t rely on competitions
Prize money should never be your primary source of funding as you can’t guarantee you will win. The real value is in the process leading up to the final, as the feedback hones the way you talk about your business. So I’d advise doing lots of competitions and pitching to lots of investors.
3. Tailor your presentation
You just never know who you will meet in the room. One of the judges previously had a fintech education business, and she fought for me. Try and know your audience so you can engage them even more. It doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all presentation.
4. Bring supplies
Last year’s Middle East entrant, Charles Blaschke, from Taka Solutions, told me to take all my technical equipment because you never know what they’ll have. It can be hard to find this stuff if you’re in a new town, and that’s an added stress you don’t need.
5. Make them remember you
What can you give the audience or judges, so they remember you? I had a mock-up of an iPhone printed with the Now Money app on it to hand out before the presentation. It’s really good to have a memory cue.
6. Get your badges
A lot of banks and large companies now invest in social entrepreneurships as their CSR strategy. And I wasn’t aware of that, or of the certificates, you can get to demonstrate that you are a socially and sustainably impactful business.
7. Explore new opportunities
My eyes have been opened to a number of people trying to solve really big problems. Everyone’s trying to create the next Instagram, but if you just think carefully about day-to-day issues, you might see how something obvious can be done much better. The CEO of Coca-Cola wanted to buy the Bioestibas pallets. Their problem is not the market potential but how to scale-up and produce cashflow to meet demand.
8. Maintain perspective
We complain that fintech is really complicated due to regulations. But then we met the guys who design advanced wheelchairs, and they said how hard it is to attract attention when you aren’t a trendy app. Everyone had some complaint, and you realise that running a start-up is just hard work!