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Make The Perfect Business Pitch To Win The Right Way

This is what makes it one of the most important skills to be mastered by any entrepreneur.

Chivas

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Passion, self-belief and a desire to make the world a better place will see social entrepreneurs competing for part of a US$1 000 000 prize in New York. Their chances of success will hinge on a few minutes in which they must make the perfect business pitch – a skill that all entrepreneurs need to hone to perfection – and your vote.

So says Shelley Reeves, Marketing Manager: Scotch Whisky at Chivas Regal, while discussing the lead up to the global final of the Chivas The Venture competition, in which social entrepreneurs from 27 countries have earned the right to pitch their socially conscious business solutions to an expert panel in New York that includes actress and businesswoman Eva Longoria, economist Sonal Shah, social entrepreneur Joe Huff and Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Alexandre Ricard.

“Generally described as an ‘elevator pitch’, the short business pitch rests on the presenter’s ability to interest a panel in the business, gain their understanding and support, and then turn that into investment,” explains Mrs Reeves.

“This is what makes it one of the most important skills to be mastered by any entrepreneur.”

The ability to deliver a strong pitch was a focus of one of the Oxford University-based workshops at The Venture’s Accelerator Week, in which all finalists, including South Africa’s national The Venture winner Jaco Gerrits, participated.

Related: Local Is Lekker Winning With Chivas And The Venture

To be in with a chance for a share of the US$1 000 000, finalists will have to keep several things in mind during their pitches. These are:

  • Understanding that the best business pitches are short and to the point. The more a presenter talks, the higher the chances are that he or she will frustrate or ‘lose’ the experts on the panel. The quicker the audience can grasp a concept and its worth, the better the chances of success are.
  • Telling the panel exactly (and briefly) what your company does, what its markets are and the benefits your product or service offers.
  • Concentrating on delivering facts and emphasising (if the company is already in existence), what its successes have been and what the future holds. Painting too positive a picture can lead to resistance by members of the panel. It’s best when talking about the future to present a best case, average case and worst case scenario, so the audience gets a full picture.
  • Keeping away from technical talk and business acronyms – it will just confuse matters.
  • Pitch a single product and its potential, rather than selling a panel on a company that has many products – especially if some or none of them are fully developed.
  • Letting those assessing your business know that you have a strong team on board. A diversified, skilled management team will always be favoured over a single ‘I do everything myself’ person. But, at the same time, the owner/founder should let them know his/her strengths and value.
  • Letting them know that the owner/founder has personally invested in making the business a success. Investors like to know that the people asking them for funding are invested in the business themselves and are committed to it.
  • Briefly describing who the competition is and what differentiates the enterprise’s offering. Putting this in a matrix slide showing strengths and weaknesses accomplishes this quickly and effectively.

“Finally, samples of a product or live service makes a pitch come alive,” says Ms Reeves. “If it can’t be demonstrated live in the time allocated, show them what they can expect.”

Having developed the CrashDetech app, Mr Gerrits exemplifies what it means to win the right way. The app detects car accidents and then immediately summons medical help for motorists in distress – a socially based product that is ideal for a country where road accident injuries and fatalities are a part of everyday life.

Whether he succeeds in winning a lion’s share of the million-dollar prize will be influenced by his confidence in his product, and his ability to communicate this to the judges. Knowing that South Africa is supporting him all the way will also make a major difference.

Related: Chivas Regal Wants You To Win the Right Way

All he really needs now is for fellow South Africans to begin casting votes, which will contribute to his enterprise’s funding. A total of USD250 000 is based on votes alone, and those who wish to support Mr Gerrits and his life saving service can vote once per week until 13 June 2016.

To do so, and for more information on CrashDetech, log on to www.theventure.com/global/en/finalists/crashdetech, look for the voting section further down the page and cast your vote. Be sure to vote weekly for Jaco as every vote leads to saving lives on our roads.

Chivas are looking for exceptional start-ups that use business innovatively to transform communities and solve global challenges. Whatever it is, if it's brilliant and can create real, positive change then Chivas want to hear from you.

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Customers Are The Heart Of Innovative Businesses

Keep your customer at the heart of your business.

Viga Interactive

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One of the main reasons start-ups fail is because they don’t create solutions that meet their customers’ needs. Failure is avoidable. Businesses that understand their customers feelings, challenges, expectations and motivations make themselves indispensable in highly competitive markets because they recognise that true innovation is led by customer insight.

An incredible example of a business that believes in innovation driven by insight is Netflix. They revolutionised the way people watch video content by listening to their customer’s needs. You’ve probably heard the story before: after paying a $40 overdue DVD fee, Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix. He was simply too busy to return his DVD. He recognised that this experience wasn’t exclusive to him, but that it was a problem that many people faced. He saw a gap in the market for receiving and returning videos more effectively, and that is how the $150 billion business was born.

If your start-up doesn’t fulfil a human need, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s not enough to have a cool idea. Ask yourself, “What is the market need behind the offering?” and then test ways of delivering your offering in the most user-friendly manner. Talk to your consumers, understand their likes and dislikes and establish your business purpose before haphazardly allocating funds to R&D.

Related: How Netflix Is Now Disrupting The Film Industry By Embracing Short-Term Chaos

You can’t go from being a California based DVD-by-mail provider, to becoming the world’s largest online video streaming service without a business plan. It’s important to recognise the step-by-step process of success. Netflix didn’t go from delivering DVD’s to pouring capital into the production of video content within six months. That sort of development would have bankrupt the company almost immediately. It took 21 years for the business to become content creators.

  • In 1999, the company became a subscription service because they found that customers preferred paying a monthly fee rather than making a once off purchase.
  • Then, in 2009, the company used investor capital to expand their DVD collection because their clients wanted a larger selection of movies.
  • In 2010, the business expanded internationally because they saw a gap in the market across various countries.
  • Finally, in 2013, Netflix created its first original content series because customers craved fascinating content beyond the overused Hollywood archetype.

The point is: Progress didn’t happen overnight. The business had to set goals and objectives. They then had to fund their growth by presenting market opportunities, backed by customer insights, to their investors. Establish your start-up one step at a time and make sure every progression isn’t innovation for innovations sake – it must be inspired by a human need.

13-reasons-whyNetflix was founded by a computer scientist and a marketing director. While one partner focused on Netflix’ service development, the other focused on sales. Since the company’s origin, collaboration and balance have been the cornerstones of the business’ success.

Netflix is currently composed of a diverse team of tech-professionals and designers. They understand the importance of combining technology and design to offer customer-inspired user-experiences.

After conducting consumer research, Netflix discovered that series and movie artwork influences viewing decisions by 82%. This has resulted in the creation of more descriptive and provocative designs. Netflix is known for leveraging human-behaviour to revolutionise their service offering.

As an entrepreneur, you can increase your ROI by partnering with the experts that understand human-based innovation.

Keep your customer at the heart of your business.

Related: What These 5 Digital KPIs Say About Your Business

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Building Customer Relationships

Are you working in a retail environment? Explore the Wits Plus online short course in Customer Relationship Building through the DigitalCampus.

Wits Plus

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Most retail businesses agree that providing excellent customer experience is imperative for a retail store to be successful.

But what is customer experience?  According to Forrester, an independent market research company, customer experience is “How customers perceive their interactions with your company”.

They explain that good customer experiences have three relevant characteristics for the customer:

  1. They are useful, thus deliver value and meet customer needs.
  2. They are usable, so the value is easy to find and engage with.
  3. They are enjoyable, and emotionally engaging so people want to use them.

The customer ‘interactions’ are the two-way exchanges that customers have with the company. A customer will make a judgement as to whether the company meets their needs, is easy to use and enjoyable to do business with. These judgements happen every single time the customer interacts with the company: when they navigate the company website, call the contact centre, enter the retail store, buy company products, talk to an employee, respond to an advert and so forth.

Providing excellent customer experience is challenging. The systems and processes required for excellent customer experience include understanding your customers, building a positive emotional connection with them, capturing and acting on feedback, developing and training everyone in the company and measuring the return on investment. All this is difficult enough to manage in a national company but what does it mean in this age of international and multinational companies?

Related: Customer Control For Entrepreneurs

Providing a superb customer experience is first underpinned by understanding the cultures, history, experiences and sensibilities of customers and then respecting them. Again, this is more manageable if your company is national and its cultural values are aligned with the national values and history. However, achieving this in a multi-national organisation where the historical experience and cultural values of the organisation may not be aligned with the country they are operating in, can be a real challenge.  A diverse workforce is also imperative to providing an outstanding customer experience and the importance of diversity is magnified in a multinational organisation.

This is demonstrated by the infamous ‘H&M hoodie incident’ that happened early this year. In Sweden the only jungle is urban, there are no wild monkeys and the black population is relatively small. As one would expect in a Scandinavian organisation, the H&M group board has good male-female diversity, but there are few black Swedes in senior decision-making positions. Few Swedes have experienced how skin colour can provide an all-pervasive feeling of difference, of ‘us and them’, and they have little, if any, understanding of these issues on a personal level.

However, H&M is a global organisation and therefore needs to have an intimate understanding of the different cultures and sensibilities of their customers in the different countries where they have a footprint; and respect them. The simple expedient of introducing a process whereby a local executive ensures that a new product is culturally sensitive could have demonstrated some organisational understanding of this issue.

The H&M hoodie debacle is an excellent example of how not understanding the customer can negatively impact on customer experience; how it can break the emotional engagement with customers and lose their trust. This incident has made it difficult for South African customers to engage positively with H&M. The importance of diversity in the senior teams throughout a multinational can directly impact the customer experience and the bottom line. In short, one picture and a hoodie nearly undermined the reputation of the organisation in South Africa!

Are you working in a retail environment? Explore the Wits Plus online short course in Customer Relationship Building through the DigitalCampus.

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Company Posts

Entrepreneurs Can Explore Opportunities In Growing Digital Textile And Interior Décor Markets

Those wanting to explore opportunities in digital textile printing can speak to experts at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

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According to Mark Sollman, application manager at Mimaki, ‘Digital printing technologies are revolutionising the interior décor business. Not only can these items be produced more rapidly and with less waste than with traditional manufacturing processes, digital printing offers the ability to customise – or even personalise – interior décor.’

The global printed textile market is huge, estimated at over 32 billion square metres of output annually. Print is widely used to decorate the surface appearance of furniture and surfaces. Digital textile printing is ideal for customisation – allowing consumers to print unique products for their homes or businesses.

There are also emerging niche opportunities. For example, with the wide use of online travel review sites, hotels are increasingly keen to deliver a fresh experience. A ‘TripAdvisor effect’ has been identified, with the claim it reduces the hotel renovation cycle from every seven years to every five years, consequently boosting the market for printed décor.

There are many T-shirt printers offering a web-to-shirt service, where the buyer uploads their own unique image to be printed on to a garment on demand. The printing takes a large part of the value and will be done close to the buyer. For a fashion collection, stock-outs may be avoided by printing and making popular sizes and styles locally in small quantities.

Related: Explore Business Opportunities In Print At The Sign Africa And FESPA Africa Expo

This makes higher manufacturing cost less of a problem, and internet retailers can extend this with only commissioning the product after a sale has been completed online. Increasingly, supply chains are being pressured to provide greater flexibility, which inkjet textile printing is able to provide.

Applications with interior décor include; customised wall coverings and photo wall murals; window coverings and wall decals; curtains and blinds, cushions, lampshades and bags.

Those wanting to explore opportunities in digital textile printing can speak to experts at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre. There are also a range of educational features, including: 

Textile Experience

Visit this hands-on workshop where printers can learn different techniques all taught by Charlie Taublieb, who has been in the screen printing industry since 1976, and heads up Taublieb Consulting in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a company specialising in technical screen printing consulting for textile printers. This takes place from 12-14 September, in hall 1 on the Rexx Screen & Digital Supplies stand.

T-Shirt and Bag Printing Workshop

Free demonstrations by local experts on T-shirts and bags with speciality printing techniques, direct to transfer and screen printing. For more info visit http://bit.ly/EntrepreneurSignAfrica5

Related: Considerations For Signage And Printing Industry Start-Ups

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