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July 03, 2017

Pitching Programs: The Pros and Cons

Recently in a whatsapp group, one of the member is sharing his experience on how one of the judges who lay more emphasis on how his idea will not work in a pitching events went ahead to implement it personally and the business has won two awards. This gives other members with similar experience the opportunity to share their experience too; the good and the bad.


Individuals, groups and Venture capitalist are now appreciating the beauty and success in a start-up business, as a result attracting people with good business idea with different programs. According to someone I chat with on this subject on social media, he said “many of the pitch opportunities often looked pretty suspicious. In most cases the funding on offer was tiny and the prizes useless, more like an opportunity for some big companies and investors to pick up teams and ideas cheaply – while pretending they were ‘supporting’ or even more unbelievably ‘giving back to’ the start-up scene.”

From experience and careful analysis and research, I begin to learn more about pitching and why the need for pitching to become a successful entrepreneur. I found out that, the skill of pitching is important for every start-up.

In the early stage of quest of entrepreneurship, the dilemma of why it’s hard to find someone to support your entrepreneurial passion remains unanswered for years. That same period I realized that people with musical, acting and athletic talents get promoted easily. A continuous learning towards achieving my dream reveals answers in different ways after hearing and reading severally that 95% of start-up close door within the first 5 years and out of the remaining 5%, 95% of them also discontinue after 5 years. Apart from family and friend, no any astute investor will jump into your hot idea when the figures and your ability to convince him/her is not enough to justify the profitability.

As aspiring or emerging entrepreneur, it is expected that you have being to one star-up, business or entrepreneurial training where guarding your idea is important. I guess that is one major reason you are skeptical about pitching program. But what if there are other benefits you could derive to get it right even if you could not win the price or raise fund, will you consider signing up for any interesting pitching program whenever you have the opportunity.

Other benefits of Pitching Programs
Apart from raising fund, the benefits of pitching to investors are enormous either in an organized program for such purpose or arranged personally. Among other benefits of participating in a pitching programs includes;

·        Opportunity to Get Down to Work: It is characterized of many star-ups to commence business without a proper plan and keeping business records. A personal experience with Microsoft Nigeria Cloudpreneur Program is a good example. During the business plan competition that lead to pitching at their office; I was able to discover a lot of things about my business in the process of putting together the business plan and the pitching presentation that is still useful for me till today. Even though I am not fortunate to win the prize.
·        Public Relations: Pitching programs are opportunity to get attention. This can help you find customers, partners, even mentor. Occasionally, some of the investors may give you the privilege to have one on one meeting after the program is over.
·        Networking: Being in the gathering of people who are pursuing the same goals as yours is an opportunity to share and gain ideas, information and make a valuable friends for business and social purpose when the need arise.
·        Feedback: Getting turn down could be damaging to once courage but at the same time it’s an opportunity to get a feedback from the investors. Word of encouragement and questions from the investors will give you the confidence and opportunity to fine-tune you plan and strategy.
·        The Award: Winning a trophy is part of our networth. Not only to get fund but also an avenue for other career opportunity in the future. When written our biography, the major part of it is the trophy and awards we received. So, it worth the stress.

There are more to the benefit of pitching program that what consideration apart from winning the trophy or getting funded instead of thinking about investors stealing your idea. If your idea is truly unique, it will be hard for someone to do it right the way you could do it. Remember pitching is not about sharing full details about the idea or the business, just the basic to convince the investors, not the strategy to implement it.

If at all I have convince you about pitching programs at this junction, there are still other things you need to consider before you jump in.

Careful Selection:  Not all pitch programs will be right for you, I guess you know that.  Maybe asking the following questions could be of help. Who will you meet there? Are the investors relevant to your business area? Will potential customers be there? How will you leverage your presence or a win?

What Worth Doing, Worth Doing Well: A pitch is hard work. Don’t just turn up; be ready to give what it takes. If you’re going to do it then you should be going all out to win. You have to deliver a good video in order to qualify, but never mean you should use professionals to film and edit it. You could do it yourself with creativity, which is part of the work.

If you have a brilliant powerpoint slides but poor in presenting it, you are a loser. If you are not good at public speaking then don’t participate until you master it, you can win without it. You have to be a performer – you have to entertain and delight the audience as well as impressing them with the brilliance of your idea and the potential of your plan.

Time Constraints: If the required time will affects your present activity, then think twice, does it worth it. This means you should properly discuss the trade-offs; what a win might be worth; what just turning up might be worth; what the opportunity cost truly is.

Can You Afford the Financial Requirement? Aside from some pitches that charge you to be there which is very rare and I am not supporting, except if there is additional training or skill to acquire in the process. You should also consider other side cost like documentation and promotional materials, transportation and accommodation, a stand in exhibition where need be etc. It all adds up and you should make sure you include the budget in your analysis.

If you do you home work very well, you will come to realize the benefits of pitching program outshine the rip-off if at all there is.

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