Op-Pieces, Startups

Yomi Kazeem: The 3 things I learnt from the Startup Battlefield at #SMWLagos

The TechCabal Startup Battlefield at Social Media Week Lagos saw 7 startups pitch to an audience made up of judges, investors, media, and tech enthusiasts such as myself. Here are three things I learnt from the event:

 

Don’t pitch but preach

Tech entrepreneurs have got to learn how to present their ideas in ways that are simple yet revealing. You should be able to help someone- not necessarily an investor- see the ‘big picture’ in minutes. How? Overtime, you have have to decipher what makes your start-up a winner and then put all that information together into minutes of conversation. Focus on the key issues: what problem does the business solve, what need does it address, scalability, revenue streams and others. Faced with a panel of judges, it won’t always be about the dopest idea, sometimes it’ll simply be about the idea that is best understood.

 

Like Shakira’s hips, numbers don’t lie

For potential investors, the numbers matter. How much investment does the business need? How much customer reach does it have? How much can it make? In this age of information, data is crucial and given that the guys you’re talking to are probably investors and are used to crunching digits, don’t bore them with excessive stories. The numbers don’t lie so strip them bare.

 

Show me the money

Finally, if it takes a long elaborate and windy talk to tell investors about how exactly the business will make money, then, *in Cassie’s voice* you’ve got a long way to go! Why should anyone give you money if you cannot figure out how to make it back? At the end of the day, investors are not Santa Claus. They want a clear idea of your revenue streams so, by all means, whet their appetite.

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Sports Pundit. Media Entrepreneur. Tech Enthusiast

2 Comments

  1. Yomi, great piece! I enjoyed it immensely. I want to write short, punchy posts like this when I grow up.

    It does seem that you're essentially repeating conventional wisdom rather than what actually played out at #tcbattlefield. Perhaps you watched a different event or you did not hang around for the results to be announced. Let's take your lessons one after the other, shall we?

    "Don't pitch but preach": If this was really important, Autobox, 500Shops, and Calbase would have come out on top in that order. Their value propositions were the most clearly understood of the bunch.

    "Like Shakira's hips. . . ": On this metric, Autobox, DECODED, Callbase and 500Shops were the clear winners, in that order. Automobiles, entertainment and SMEs are hot button topics and their markets are large, growing and durable. But who cares, right? I also strongly disagree with your preference for a non story-based narrative.

    "Show me the money": This one is a difficult one. By a long shot, Adugbo had the most multi-faceted monetisation strategy. Callbase and 500Shops had very simple plans to make money also. DECODED had the sort of complex monetisation strategy which is typically devised by multi-sided platforms and that demonstrates that they had spent time thinking through scenarios. The eventual winners – PrepClass – on the other hand, seem to require some sort of government sanction or their idea is dead in the water. Knowing the difficulty of doing B2B or any form of enterprise selling, especially as a startup, I must say I am surprised at the judges decision.

    Once again, Yomi, interesting article.

    1. Ah! finally someone sees why I say 'PrepClass' chances of success is dependent on an external force they may not be able to control – weather it be government or infrastructure to give product access to its market. Huge B2B that needs huge investment to make any impact and once our Ogas see potential, they'd make it a 'right' thing and give it their family members.

      As for other lessons from this post, they are truly cliche but valuable ones. I was also surprised at the judges decision and wonder if they'd actually put in their money understanding how business work here in Nigeria.

      Then again time will tell, but I would have invested in Decoded and they seem to be the winner for me at the battlefield.

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