The finale of the Engen Pitch and Polish entrepreneurial workshop and competition was held in Johannesburg recently.
In the tradition of local entrepreneurs shining in this particular competition, East London born NMMU graduate, Asa Mazomba, now based in Port Elizabeth, secured second place for his TenderPoint business pitch.
This year’s winner was a female entrepreneur from Welkom, Lebo Selloane, followed by Asa Mazomba from Port Elizabeth. In third place was Themba Sehawu from Nelspruit and in fourth place was Ayanda Ntsho from Soweto.
Asa Walesa Mazomba is a Quantity Surveyor and Construction Project Manager. Mazomba is an Alumni of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s School of Engineering and a member of multiple industry organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Building and the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors.
After 6 years of exposure in the Construction Industry as a Site based Construction Manager and Consulting Quantity Surveyor, Asa registered a construction company in 2010 and found that getting work was the hardest part. From that point on he began developing an online solution – TenderPoint – with Zinzi May, a Graphic Designer.
TenderPoint is an online CIDB Construction Procurement tool that strives to introduce effective and efficient procurement in the Construction Industry and built for organisations that procure to the industry as well as between contractors themselves.
In collaboration with Engen Petroleum Ltd and Raizcorp, along with national media partner, SAfm, Pitch Polish celebrated its 5th successful year of discovering the nations’ most promising local entrepreneurs.
The idea began in 2009 during a GIBS (Gordon Institute of Business Science) thought-leadership weekend, before the global financial crisis hit South Africa. Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp, a company deeply involved in supporting entrepreneurs, recognised the great need to develop entrepreneurs and believes that entrepreneurs struggle to raise finance, not because their ideas are flawed, but because they don’t know how to pitch their business or ideas effectively. Pitch Polish was created to address this crucial element in the entrepreneurs’ journey. After pitching the idea and securing partners, Allon and his team, held the first set of workshops in June 2010. Pitch Polish has since grown year on year and is determined to continue expanding its reach. To date, the workshop and competition has helped polish over 6000 hopeful entrepreneurs pitches.
The 2014 finalists hail from Soweto, Welkom, Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth. They successfully competed through three rounds and are beacons to their communities. In true ENGEN Pitch Polish style, there was an unexpected twist on the night – a contestant from one of the previous rounds was brought back in as a Wild Card finalist. The 2014 winner, Lebo Selloane, from Welkom, won the judges vote and hearts with her compelling story and pitch with her story, credentials and mobile x-ray truck business idea.
Allon Raiz shares his insights from the evening, “When an entrepreneur paints the story behind the journey, it immediately gets my attention, as the story tells me what his or her connection is to the product or service. It paints a picture and reveals authenticity and vulnerability. Supported with deep research, sound financial knowledge and potential return on investment – the pitch will be convincing.”
The fact is, we live in a hyper connected world in which we are able to access new information 24 hours a day and at ever increasing speeds. So how do you cut through the noise that your customers are exposed to on the high speed information highway that we are all on; and make them take notice of your product or service?
As an entrepreneur you might think this is an impossible task and have no idea where to start to tell your story; below are some guidelines compiled by ENGEN Pitch Polish:
1. Identify the root of your idea
The big idea is your reason for being in business. It is not the ‘what’ or ‘how’, it is the ‘why’ you are doing what you do. Chances are most companies can easily tell you what they do and how they do it, but would find it difficult to express why they do it. For example, the root of ENGEN Pitch Polish is to provide a platform for local entrepreneurs to have their ideas brainstormed, tested and challenged.
2. Keep it simple, keep it real
Keep your narrative simple and limited to few memorable reasons for your customers to choose you. The most powerful stories are often the most simple. They are also rooted in authenticity and told consistently. Don’t chop and change your story – this only serves to confuse and alienate your customers. The best reason for them to believe, is the reason you believe. ~
3. Emotions are critical
The saying that people will not remember what you said, but how you made them feel is never more true or important than when you are building your story. Your narrative must include an emotional experience in order for your customers to remember it. The emotion is what people connect and relate to. For ENGEN Pitch Polish, the journey of entrepreneurs during and after the workshop is where the emotional connection lies, as its nurtures hope.
4. Know your numbers
A riveting emotive story must be equally strong and succinctly conveyed through the numbers. Share the story in numbers too. Know the true cost of your product or service and its selling price. When speaking to investors, get to the numbers quickly and illustrate through your story, how much you need, what you need it for, how you will pay it back and by when.
5. Practice makes perfect
Finally, practice, practice and repeat your story to polished perfection, with enthusiasm and energy. Authenticity cannot be faked and if you are telling a story you don’t believe in, neither will your audience. Take them with you on your journey by posing questions and engaging with their thoughts and feelings as you share your narrative. By drawing the audience into your story and making them active participants, you will be more likely to create a connection.
“We are witnessing a flourishing entrepreneurial culture in South Africa which is inclusive and collaborative in nature. The entrepreneur’s story is the platform that beckons interest – from peers and investors alike. The ENGEN Pitch Polish programme is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and forms part of their journey, learning curve and story,” comments Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Engen Petroleum Ltd Group Transformation Manager, Engen.
Congratulations to all that participated.
— Zinzi May (@ZinziMay) October 1, 2014
— Asa Walesa Mazomba (@AsaWalesa) October 1, 2014
The following two tabs change content below.
— Asa Walesa Mazomba (@AsaWalesa) October 1, 2014