Youth in Kenya have been affected by the problem of unemployment. The government has tried to address this issue without much success. Year in year out, the institutions of higher learning churn out thousands and thousands of graduates where the now common ‘tarmacking’ for jobs starts. Graduates move from office to office with their papers with the hope of employment. Unfortunately, there are few vacancies for the many people who are qualified. This in turn means that people have to find alternative ways of placing a meal on their tables through self-employment, entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur has to source for funds, enter into partnerships or be aggressive for the success of the business.
Last Friday, 2nd October 2015, Seedstars World in partnership with CFC Stanbic Bank held the finals for the Global Seed Stage start up competition at iHub in Nairobi. This is a competition that seeks to identify the best start-up in Kenya. Ten start-ups competed to represent the country at the Seedstars World competition where the winner will walk away with up to USD 500,000 in equity investment. The ten people who pitched their ideas oozed confidence and I marvelled at the expertise with which they presented their businesses to a group of judges who grilled them after each presentation. I learnt so many things on pitching, six of which I will share here.
- Be a problem solver
There are millions of problems all over the world and particularly in Kenya. Problems such as theft, diseases, insecurity, poor drainage system, high illiteracy levels just to mention a few, have continued to affect people. For a business to succeed in today’s world, the core aim has to be one that provides solutions to these problems. One needs not to look further than where they are. If there are problems where you are, come up with a solution and find a means of getting money out of that.
2. Time is key in pitching
The entrepreneurs were allowed six minutes only to pitch their ideas. They were required to say what their businesses were about, why they were the right people to get the funding and how well they understood the market, especially competition. Whoever presented their ideas in a way that could be understood increased their chances of winning.
3. Communication skills determine almost ninety percent of success
Out of the ten people that pitched their ideas, the ones that had mustered the art of communication won the hearts of the judges and the audience. It was evident from the clapping after every presentation. The ones that really stood out were rewarded. One needs to be able to communicate effectively and respond to the questions asked without stammering.
4. Understand your area of specialty
This means that every entrepreneur needs to understand the numbers in their businesses including the capital investment, worth of business, the profit realized and the period taken to realize that profit among other important details that determine the success or failure of a business. Again, they should be aware of the competition posed by similar businesses and better their services for a competitive advantage.
5. Technology forms an integral part of the business
Ten out ten of the pitches revolved around technology in business. Whereas not all the entrepreneurs maybe conversant with the technicalities of the issues that come with technology, technology plays a major role in the success of business and should not be ignored.
6. Work as a team
Some of the businesses were co-founded and their success was dependent on how well they worked together as a team. The teams comprised of people from different areas of specialization coming together to establish the business. For example, engineers worked with economists to come up the start-up that won- Illuminium Greenhouses.
For more on the Seedstar competition winner check out Illuminium Greenhouse named Kenya’s best start-up at Seedstars Nairobi.