“13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can’t Turn Down” (Part 2)

__Be laser-focused.

Many of you asked me this week to say a bit more about “pitching,” including what the word really means. For an entrepreneur, a “pitch” is what you say and present to potential investors to market yourself, your idea and your business concept — not just to inspire them to invest, but to rush to be first in the queue!

Like I said before, our great reality shows on Kwesé Inc are now the best place for African entrepreneurs to see and hear from the best of the best in the world on this topic… and also watch people who “fail” to get investment (which is the majority). You can learn a lot from them, too!

Today though, in response to your requests, let me share the first of three parts of an excellent article from Entrepreneur magazine, written by Neil Patel, a young entrepreneur who gave me permission to republish it (remember the importance of intellectual property). It’s called: “13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can’t Turn Down.” Today I’ll share #1 thru #4.

I urge you to study and discuss each of these tips with your friends. You can also use them to assess the pitches and business approaches made by others on Kwesé Inc shows like Shark Tank, Adventure Capitalist and The Profit, because it will help you understand what it takes to secure funding from investors, when you get your chance. It’s important not to treat such shows as mere entertainment because they’re there to help you sharpen your skills!

Neil Patel’s “13 Tips” are excellent, and I will republish them all. But let me give you the most important tip of all: Securing funding from investors who require you to make a pitch, is won or lost long before you arrive to make your pitch!

__It’s going to be decided by the PREPARATIONS you make in the months and weeks leading up to that pitch.

In his article, Neil writes:

“Your pitch is the single thing that could either get your business off the ground or plunge your idea into eternal oblivion. It matters.

The rule of thumb for investors is that for every 100 investments they make, only 10 will go big.

Let me take that rule of thumb a step further. For every 1,000 pitches an investor hears, he or she will fund only 100 of them. Statistically, the odds for success are not great. You can beat the statistics, however, by crafting a pitch that turns heads and gets funded.

What are the ingredients of an ultra-compelling, irresistible, outstanding, and unforgettable pitch?

1. Take only ten minutes.
Timing is critical. The less time your pitch takes, the better.

A brilliant idea means nothing unless you can distill it to a few moments of sheer power. The more concise you can be, the more effective you will be. Here are a few timing pointers:

# If you say that you’ll take “only X minutes,” then take at least one minute less.

# If you are told, “You only have X minutes to pitch,” then take at least five minutes less.

# If you say, “One last thing” or something similar, then make sure it’s truly the
one last thing.

# Move at a good pace. Don’t rush at the end.

# If you’re using slides, don’t get stuck on one slide for more than three minutes.

Here’s the great thing about taking ten minutes. If the investors are really interested, they’ll ask questions. If they’re not interested, then you will have saved them (and yourself) some time.

2. Turn your pitch into a story.
Storytelling is a scientifically-proven way to capture a listener’s attention and hold it. Besides, it makes your pitch unforgettable.

Investors are bored with spreadsheets, valuations and numbers. If they want that information, they can get it. What you can offer that no term sheet can convey is the story and pathos behind your startup. Everyone loves a good story, even the most data-driven investor.

So, tell your story and tell it right. You’re bound to gain attention, and the funding will follow.

3. Be laser-focused.
Investors’ time is their most valuable asset. If you convey a respect for their time, they will interpret that respect as your ability to treat their funding with respect.

Because time is important, you need to develop an absolute focus on the core components of your pitch. What are those core components? They’re detailed in the following tips.

4. Explain EXACTLY what your product or service is.
Show your potential investors a picture of, or give them the actual product to handle.

Be careful not to drone endlessly on about your product. Honestly, investors don’t really care about your product as much as they care about the money that your product will make. The sooner you get to the good stuff — the money — the better. . .”

To be continued. . .

Image credit: Nature Picture Library. African fish eagle, Chobe River, Botswana.

by 28 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

28 thoughts on ““13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can’t Turn Down” (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe…” (Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, a skilled woodcutter (and lawyer) before becoming US president in 1861.)

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    A few years ago, I spent two weeks preparing for a three-minute pitch. During those two weeks, I did nothing else but prepare for that one pitch! One day I will tell you about it. What I need you to understand is this: If you’re not prepared to pour yourself into it, with every ounce of energy, passion, and skill you can muster, you will probably not make it!

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    I listen to pitches every day of my life, mostly from executives within my own organization. The first thing I try to establish from what they are saying is how much time they put into what they’re proposing, including their thought processes, research, collaboration with others, and application. I don’t like to listen to ideas from people that have not properly applied themselves.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.
    If your mother tongue is not English, do you have a word for “invest”? Please share it with us.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Quiz winners announced!
    Please go to Kwese.com/news to find out if you are one of 115 winners and 9 finalists in three of our May quizzes: 1) Kwesé’s six new channels; 2) Kwesé online dealers; and 3) Africa’s GDP in 25 years. If you find your name, please come back right here under this note, within no longer than two weeks, and let us know you know you won. Then my team will be in touch with you via Facebook messenger. Congratulations!

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Bobby asks,

    What if you are not good in public speaking ?

    My reply,
    This is not about “public speaking”; it is about the ability to speak clearly to one or more people. Usually when pitching for investment you will rarely find yourself speaking to more than 3 or 4 people. Go to Kwese Inc and see how other young people do it.
    After you have listened to a pitch try and rate each one using the 13 tips!

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Neil says “the sooner you get to the money, the better”. I agree with him whole heartedly!
    If it is a presentation about a “for profit venture”, get to “your numbers” quickly. Don’t be a politician!
    You should know the numbers that matter in such a pitch.
    Personally, if I don’t hear the numbers I switch off very quickly. Whilst I may not throw you out, I have met people who can be extremely rude when you fail on numbers!
    On Shark Tank watch what happens when they ask about numbers; that is when the investors sit up.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Show your NUMBERS!
    …then defend them as though your life depended on it!

    -how much did you generate last year?
    -what was your margin?
    -what does it cost for you to run your business; break it down for us?
    -how much cash do you have?

    …you are only just getting started!

    Quick, quick, quick!
    …if you show discomfort or lack of confidence, it’s over!

    The investors are coming but will you be ready?

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Manzi writes,

    Last Friday I got my kwese decoder installed and TV has never been the same. Let me testify. Kwese Inc has no competition in Africa. I’m learning alot about entrepreneurship, how businesses are setup, how they are scaled, pitching ideas to investors etc. Programs like Shark tank, the profit, The partner, hatched, the shift and bar rescue are my favorite. There’s alot of information and knowledge that one can’t get in school. If you are planning on starting a business, if you are a student, get Kwese! Sir, thank you so much for Kwese. PS, just found out I won another decoder from last month’s quiz.

    My reply,
    Appreciated. Thank you!
    The guys have really worked hard to find the best programming from around the world. We are also planning to do more programming with African entrepreneurs but it takes time.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    One of the worst things you can do is to treat an investor as a “donor”, and beg them to assist you!
    Serious investors do not want to hear pleas for help and assistance!
    There are investors out there (called Impact Investors) who undertake investment with a primary mission aimed at trying to help, but even they want to know that what you are doing stands on its own merit as a business.

    There is a place for asking for help ( donors, philanthropists and charities), this is not the subject of investors. It is important not to confuse them.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Never get bitter when investors turn you down.
    Even in America where there are so many venture capitalists willing to take a lot of risk on new ventures, just 1 in 10 actually gets funding support!
    I cannot even count the number of times I have been turned down, even to this very day:

    It’s all part of the game. Hey, even Real Madrid and Chelsea lost a few games last season!

    The key is to get up, dust yourself up, review what you said and did. Accept criticism where it was given, then try again!

    Sometimes I have even been back to the same guys (often several times) who turned me down, with something new, and we have ended up doing something together.

    Pride and bitterness have no place in successful entrepreneurship…perhaps life itself.

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #1. You must know your own country through its numbers. Things like GDP, GDP per capita, exchange rate, inflation rate, must roll off your tongue almost without hesitation.

    #2. You must know your industry in numbers.
    [if you hear me speak about cell phones in Africa, I will give you a bewildering set of figures.
    I can also tell you who is making money and who is pretending to make money!]

    #3. You must know your business in numbers.

    And by the way it does not matter whether or not you are in business or still at school.

    As an investor, if I ask you about your country, or industry, or business area; I’m asking for NUMBERS!
    There is nothing more alarming for potential investors than listening to people who have no grip of numbers. Don’t confuse investors with tourists or donors; they are not the same.


    Hello sir, thank you for all the insights and wisdom you have been sharing with us.I have been learning about Dropshipinng as a way of business that does need a small capital to start and i would real inivite your to share your wisdom on the topic i really need to hear your view my lecture on the topic.
    Asante Sana

  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Chepkirui writes,

    OK. I get it concentrate more on numbers. So you build your introduction story of numbers.

    My reply,
    Spot on!
    I always (always) use numbers to anchor anything I say in a pitch, even if I start with a story.
    Here is a simple pitch that I used to open with:
    “In 1993 when I decided to launch my telecoms business 75% of the African people had never heard a telephone ring. Today nearly 75% of the African people have their own cell phone.”
    #did you see that?
    I pitch with numbers!
    In three minutes I can discuss a country, a market, an industry, and my business in numbers.
    I can define the opportunity in numbers.
    I can define the investment opportunity in numbers.
    It is a discipline, and I m determined to pass it on to you!

    • Hamza Fanda

      Thank you my mentor. You are indeed the HOPE for Africa and you are indeed changing our thinking positively . Keep getting connected to young Africans through this medium and sky will be your limit.
      Thank you for being there all the time!


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