South African enterprise platform FNB and U-start recently awarded an Enterprise Elevator prize - meant for promising new social entrepeneurs. We were very proud that SpringAGE was one of the six nominees! The number of entries exceeded the organizer's expectations by far: We received an overwhelming amount of entries for the pitch event and have been exposed to a number of exciting innovative entrepreneurs solving big social and environmental challenges organiser of the event, Max Pichulik, said. Our final selection was based on the strength of the applications and interviews this was by no means an easy task.
We can agree on that! As one of 17 entrees we were invited to a Skype session with the judges of the competition. In the conversation we had to pitch SpringAGE talk about our vision, what we do and if someone would invest in SpringAGE how much would we need and what we would we do with it . Big questions for an 18month old SpringAGE! But good ones, that forced us to stretch our thinking and go onto the drawing board about where we would like to see ourselves in 10 years from now. Apparently, the judges were convinced and much to our delight we made it to the final six. And were invited to the big end event in Cape Town.
We were invited to pitch our initiative in 5 minute slots to potential investors, together with five other great business initiatives:
- Future Power Solutions - who believe that wind power can work towards solving South Africas energy crisis
- Iono Broadcasting, a mobile audio technology that provides customisable teaching content
- Greenpop - a hybrid for profit and non-profit company that has developed tree planting and volunteerism based products;
- Trashback who motivate people living in townships across South Africa to recycle and better manage their waste, using a business model that offers vouchers in exchange for the amount of recyclables collected, which are then sold on to larger recycling companies.
- Youth Village, an online portal provides young people with educational, lifestyle and career content. Founder Bruce Dube wants to create an effective platform where young people can engage, share and identify solutions to issues affecting them, while using the resources at their fingertips.
It was a buzzing evening: all of the organisations pitching, potential investors and many Capetonians gathering at the Dream Factory (an appropriate name for the venue). Eventually, Greenpop was crowned the winner!
All in all, though we didnt 'win', it was a very fruitful experience, we broadened our horizons, met new people and shared the story of SpringAGE with quite a lot of people. And for those of you who ever find themselves in a situation where you have to pitch your initiative, here are our TOP 6 learnings from the elevator pitch to all (young) entrepeneurs out there:
- Understanding clearly why you are doing what you are doing is very important. For example dont talk about what you do first. As Simon Sinek says: Start with the Why.
- Be clear about what your organization does.
- Be clear about how you do it.
- Demonstrate what you have done and your business model
- Whats the bigger picture
- Be specific about what you want from the investors, how that will enable you to scale up and what will they get from it.
NB The picture shows the nominees, Neliswa Fente is fourth from the left.