Selebogo Molefe, also known as DrLifesgud to his Twitter followers, should know a thing or two about what it takes to deliver a great pitch. The 32-year-old entrepreneur, who is also the brains behind The Hookup Dinner (THUD), has seen his fair share of pitches.
Asked about his first pitch, he says it was to his mother and it didn’t go so well. “She thought I should just get a job, I had to prove myself until she saw it working,” he says.
Fortunately his presentation skills did improve, he nailed his interview to enter the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship programme and later started his own company, Lifesgud Global Investments.
The Hookup Dinner
The THUD concept is an interesting one. The platform was launched in 2012. It gives young entrepreneurs an opportunity to test out their ideas by delivering a 180-second elevator pitching competition called #JustPitch180 in front of an audience.
This event, hosted in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town Pretoria, allows participants to receive real time feedback on their ideas. THUD is also a space where entrepreneurs can get serious networking done, including a chance to connect with potential corporate funders.
As far as the best pitch he has seen, Molefe says it was one delivered by a female entrepreneur at one of last year’s events. She pitched the idea of lebola insurance. She received an overwhelming response from the audience and walked away with the ultimate prize (the winner is voted by audience majority vote). “She identified a solution to a problem that they could relate to,” says Molefe.
Here are Molefe’s do’s and don’ts for giving a winning pitch:
“Less is more” – Keep it concise and deliver your message “from the get go”. A pitch is not a presentation, it’s what gets your leg into the door.
“Be convincing and inspire confidence” – Investors buy into you before they buy into your idea. No matter how good the idea looks on paper, it’s about you. Smart investors will look at whether you have what it takes to move the idea forward.
“Prepare, prepare, prepare” – Do your research, practice by pitching to as many people as you can.
“Know why you are pitching” – Have a goal, what are you trying to achieve with your pitch (See Simon Sinek, TEDx presentation Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Based on a book by the same name.)
“Don’t sell” – People are looking to hear the reasons why you came out with a particular solution, don’t sell the solution.
“Don’t deliver the same pitch to everyone” – Adjust your pitch to suit the audience, whether it’s a potential investor, collaborator or clients.