Entrepreneurs Tuned In At Cape Town Engen Pitch & Polish Event

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The Cape Town leg of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshop and competition took place on Saturday, 3 August 2019 and attracted a record number of entrepreneurs. Since its inception ten years ago, Pitch & Polish has helped over 15 000 entrepreneurs learn to pitch like a pro. This year, the Cape Town event was made possible through the generosity of the sponsors Engen, Nedbank, and Raizcorp, along with local partner NYDA.

ENGEN Pitch & Polish sees participants and five contestants taken through a dynamic pitching workshop facilitated by Justin Cohen, a business strategist, international speaker and a world-leading expert on pitching for business.

Justin opened Saturday’s event with an inspirational talk during which he said that regardless of the economic environment, there are problems to solve and wealth to be created. In fact, during tough economic times, there are even more opportunities because there are more problems to solve. He also touched on the need for entrepreneurs to be optimistic. On average, entrepreneurs fail 3.8 times before they succeed. By cultivating a sense of optimism, entrepreneurs can more easily view failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and then move on. “Entrepreneurs don’t fail; they choose to either win or learn,” he said.

During the workshop, the delegates, together with three pre-selected and two wild card contestants, were taken through eight key aspects of pitching for investment. (Wild cards are chosen on the day when audience members are invited to pitch their ideas or businesses to the room which then votes on who should become a contestant.)

The first half of the workshop ended with the first round of practice pitches by the five contestants. Each was asked to deliver a 30-second pitch as a basepoint to measure against their final competition pitches later in the day.

The second half of the workshop was followed by the actual competition during which contestants delivered the pitches they had worked on throughout the course of the day. Contestant Hirschel Heilbron, who hopes to streamline family bathroom use through a mouthwash and toothpaste dispenser, learned to incorporate a personal story that connects with the product, and also to do thorough market research when pitching for resources. Luntu Masiza, a wild-card contestant who offers skills development training through theatre techniques, learned and demonstrated the difference between needing investment versus needing clients and mentorship. Again, the need to understand one’s target market clearly and to share successes was highlighted.

Third place winner, Chwayita Nqiwa-Twalo, delivered a concise, credible and well-paced pitch. She discovered the need to quickly communicate the core focus and differentiating factors of her mobile phone recharging stations, and to include all eight aspects of a winning pitch.

Second place went to Nkululo Gugu, who has a maths and science tutoring business. During the day, he learned the value of incorporating success stories to demonstrate the impact of his service and of including a more clearly defined target market in his otherwise well-delivered pitch.

The winning pitch was delivered by Zandile Tlhapi, a retail shop owner in Khayelitsha who sells a range of locally made baby clothes, toys, books, and furniture. Her final pitch showed great improvement as she wove in her expertise and industry knowledge, along with an understanding of her funding needs, business model, vision and philosophy. She ended with a few notes of a song she wrote, “Have Hope”, which offered the audience a glimpse into her true character and helped to build credibility.

The competition was judged by Arno Brown (Engen Petroleum’s Employee Relations Specialist), Henk Klopper (Nedbank’s Area Client Manager) and Stephen Reid (False Bay College Manager). During the competition phase, contestants were given three minutes to pitch after which the judges asked clarifying questions – another opportunity for learning – and then delivered their feedback.

Unathi Njokweni-Magida, the Head of Transformation & Engagement from Engen Petroleum explained that a quarter of South Africans go to bed hungry. In working to help address this crisis, Engen is involved in the Pitch & Polish programme, collaborating with companies that are making a difference by supporting ordinary people who do extraordinary things. “We in this room are going to have beautiful ideas, be passionate about them, refine them, understand them, understand our market, our value proposition and our unique selling proposition. Let’s become confident businesspeople who are going to change South Africa. Refine your business model, go out there and make a difference,” she urged attendees.

Each of the three winners took home a cash prize. Winner Zandile Tlhapi will receive further training at Raizcorp in Johannesburg during the second-round phase of the programme. She also has the chance to progress to the semi-final and become the ultimate 2019 ENGEN Pitch & Polish winner, receiving further cash injections and prizes.

Congratulations to everyone for attending the Cape Town leg of the tenth annual ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, and for their dedication in learning to pitch like a pro.

For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com.