The Art of Pitching

empowering people. Award (epAward) ceremony is less than a month away (July 11, 2019),  as you would imagine we are in the throes of preparation and so are our 11 finalists. After all, it is their big day, that will determine the winner of this year’s competition.  For the first time, epAward will see all the finalists present their business concepts as pitches before our multidisciplinary jury panel. Pitching remains an essential part of any entrepreneur’s journey:  the ability to craft a compelling narrative to bring your enterprise to the fore and secure capital. Be it before a jury, investors, potential customers or collaborators. The art to pack-in crucial details about your enterprise succinctly and in a memorable manner within few minutes is not an easy feat.

So what exactly is required to grab the attention and create an impression? We have some handy tips from seasoned social entrepreneurs who have often faced the dragons’ den and emerged with flying colors. Hear from our previous epAward winners and network members the absolute do’s and don’ts.

Lieselotte Heederik, Co-Founder & Director Business Development, Nazava Water Filters, Indonesia.

“Practice…write down exactly what you want to say, every word, every sentence! Make sure the words come out smoothly and that you’re able to pronounce them. When you’re on the stage take a deep breath, and smile!”

Henri Nyakarundi, Founder ARED Group, Rwanda and Uganda.

“Study the investor and find out about their interest. There is no such thing as one pitch for all. Some investors focus on social impact, others are more interested in technology. You need to customize your pitch based on the interest.”

Lennart Budelmann, Co-Founder, aQysta, Netherlands, Nepal, Colombia, Indonesia.

“When preparing a pitch I always think about the audience! What is important to them and how to highlight certain aspects of my story to address what they are looking for? I not only think about what to say but also how to use gestures to underline my story.”

Grant Gibbs, Executive Director, Hippo Roller, South Africa.

“I believe it is important not to bombard potential investors with too much information. Stick to the salient points and be as clear as possible. Explain what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there!”

Ratul Narain, Founder & MD, BEMPU Health, India.

“It’s important to be able to explain what you are doing very clearly. I suggest you write your pitch down first, cut any extra content that may confuse your key points, and then practise with people unfamiliar with your business to make sure they get it! Oh, and when you pitch…smile!” 

Chris Skilton,Ceo, Deciwatt, the United Kingdom.

“Before a big pitch make sure that you find time to rehearse, even though may be very busy. The extra time invested in preparation can make all the difference! Avoid cluttering your key message with unnecessary information. As you practise you will start to identify and emphasize the points that really matter!”

Quang D. Truong, Co-Founder & COO, Fenik, USA.

“Just follow the formula: lead with a hook, present the problem, show the audience your solution, talk about your traction and why you are the best team to implement. Finally, close with the “ask”. The reason why there is a formula is that it works!”

Isabel Sheinman, Director Business Development, NABU.ORG, Rwanda & Haiti.

“Storytelling is key – my advice would be to lead with a story of your work that highlights, who you are, what you do, why you do it! Have all of the facts and figures ready to share, but lead with a more engaging story first. Have confidence in your work, the jury will pick up on that and have more confidence in you.”

James van der Walt, Founder, SolarTurtle, South Africa.

“Believe in who you are! Don’t copy the style everyone else is copying. Be fresh, be different! But most importantly speak with passion. All the best!”

Elliot Avila, CEO and Co-Founder, Imara Tech, Tanzania.

“Going into a big pitch, the hardest part for me has always been framing the investment ask! Thankfully, epNetwork connected us with world-class organizations that helped our financials and investment strategy. Now our growth plan demonstrates how we achieve a financially sustainable impact!”

David Wilson, Co-Founder, MAPS AgRover.

“When you present your pitch, you need to show the value of your idea. That means having good numbers and a good story. Both are necessary. Be optimistic, but also truthful with both!”

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