Danaa: Good evening,

We live at a time that Capitalism rules the world.

Behind the concept of capitalism lies the phenomenon of free enterprise that serves as the engine of economies

The free enterprise concept largely thrives on private sector participation and accordingly have its patents revolving around the world of entrepreneurship.

Today’s discussion takes a look at a major bottleneck that hinders the ability of entrepreneurs to attract investors for the growth of enterprise

To help us digest pitching, its components and how startups can position themselves very well to attract needed external funds, we welcome ALIMA BAWAH of Cowtribe fame

Alima, you are most welcome

Alima Bawah: Thanks, Samad, good evening to everyone.

Danaa: Day in day out, business startups are springing up. However most find it hard to grow because of difficulties in pitching. What is pitching and why do entrepreneurs require pitching to build successful businesses?

Alima Bawah: Its simply a way of selling your idea for financial investment, and other resources, until you tell it, it remains in your head and no one will know about it.

It is a way of taming someone to sieve relevant information while sustaining listener’ (s) interest to ask for more.  

Entrepreneurs find themselves talking about their businesses every single day of their lives, be it one-one, on the stage, online…. 

Most pitches are between 3 and 5 mins but the hardest pitch to do is a 1min which we term “elevator pitch”.  As entrepreneurs, we are always tempted to say EVERYTHING as such, the flow is not chronological enough for people to connect, and we leave out vital information.

Danaa: From the above, I am inclined to understand that pitching is not necessarily to secure funds directly but to sell ideas or let others get to know what one’s business is all about

Danaa: Is that really the case?

Alima Bawah: Exactly. You might pitch to an audience which will bring in technical expertise to grow your business to a certain stage and take equity

Danaa: Nice to know

Danaa: Often times, businesses fold up and some simply remain as ideas on a drawing board. The major theme that runs through these developments is always the inability to attract the right investor creed. Do you think this is largely due to pitch quality and presentation?

Alima Bawah: wow. It’s multi-faceted. There are always multiple reasons leading to business failure, ranging from founder disagreements, product-market fit, funding, team expertise, ability to attract the right talent, and commitment amongst others but of course, we can’t rule out pitching because that is what brings the fund even when you are not making revenue yet. 

Most pitches don’t get to the next stage because entrepreneurs don’t take notice of their audience and their expectations. You might have a great pitch but when you pitch it to a wrong audience, you will lose out. BUT, you might just find someone who knows someone that will be interested or you may find other opportunities though it’s rare.

Complacency and know all attitude 

We are not prepared to answer questions intimately beyond the pitch and that sends a signal you don’t know what you are selling and might also mean its an idea you copied but have no idea how to transform it money and grow it. 

Most times we are not ready to take feedback from investors, we give them the impression we know it all and know what we are up to. 

Entrepreneurship is not a straight forward thing or its rollercoaster journey

Danaa: Indeed entrepreneurship is not a straight target.Yet we have winning pitches.What constitute quality and winning pitches?

Alima Bawah: A winning pitch is determined by the person with the fat purse 😃

Danaa: take us through Please what constitute a winning pitch

Alima Bawah: There are several formats of a pitch. The composition depends on whom you are pitching to (audience), where, why, the funding focus and area of priority. If a fund is looking to invest strictly in Agri startups, you don’t go pitching a solution on education, human rights, HIV…… 

Regardless, any pitch must cover these critical themes:

1. Introduction (self and/or team)

2. Problem

3. Solution

4. Business model (how you make money)

5. Market opportunity (how many people will need your solution/product) 

6. Competition (who else is offering or doing what you are doing) 

7. Your traction (success so far)

8. Financial historical and projections (how much revenue you have made, spent, how much you will be making over what period of time?

9. Team (expertise, and experience relevant to this business)

10. Growth plan (where do you intend to be in what time-space? Number of customers, locations, revenue)

11. Investment asks and how you will use it (how much money do you need and which aspect of the business do you want to push that funding in to).

Alima Bawah: Some investors may change the positions but no investor will assess your business or pitch without any of these subjects.

Danaa: Investors may assess businesses on the above but do the various headings carry different weights in terms of importance in the eye of the investor?

Alima Bawah: Definitely!! They can help you outsmart competition, build team if you prove there is a need (problem) and that you have the right solution/product.

What investors can’t help you do is create a solution, market size, traction

Danaa: In going through therefore,which areas must a first timer in a pitching session concentrate on building?

Alima Bawah: First time in pitching? Or first time in business?

Danaa: Pitching.

Alima Bawah: There is no first time consideration in pitching. 

What investors may over look is traction, if you say you are barely 3months into it means you still need to be incubated to develop the prototype or MVP so you need to show there is a customer pain (problem),

You have the right product or solution 

There is big market for it 

You know how to make the money (business model)

You have to team to transform the idea to into money

*MVP* is Minimum Viable Product

Danaa: I am inclined to believe that readers would be a little on edge because today’s discussion is a bit technical

Alima Bawah: Much as I can, I try to limit them, knowing full well we are all from diverse backgrounds

Danaa: Alima, as a reader, in what way has reading helped you in the development and presentation of winnable pitches over the years in your engagement as an entrepreneur?

Alima Bawah: So Samad, I recently discovered about myself that I learn faster through audiovisuals (reading feels too abstract for me and I spend 2-3x of my time and efforts to learn by reading only) 

I first of all read about the investors’ needs, interest, previous investment portfolios, due diligence process, and more before I start to put my pitch together. To be sincere, putting the pitch deck and script together is more difficult than that stage presentation. 

I do desk review of other pitches unfortunately for me, I don’t get pitches that present a similar solution as mine but I get a piece of general knowledge. 

These have helped me to develop concise pitches to meet the needs of the investors and that is why I have never missed a funding opportunity except one and that, I know the root cause. lol

Danaa: But one may ask,what is difficult about using a presentation to tell the story of your business,what it does,how it does it and how important is it?(pitch deck)

Alima Bawah: simply put, the tech pictures have to tell the story for you, you dont watch your deck too often when pitching, for the normal presentation we see, its just reading, my brother lol

Danaa: OK

(Please members who have questions can send them to me directly)

Danaa: Alima, what is the cowtribe and how has pitching enabled you in attracting the necessary investor confidence in building your brand?

Alima Bawah: Cowtribe built (still improving) a supply chain logistics to enable us to deliver preventive veterinary products and services to rural farmers. Most of these farmers keep very few animals, they live in far and difficult to access place so service providers will mostly cut them off. So we run a demand aggregation model where we bundle all preventive vaccines and medication as an annual package, farmer prepays for them, then we work with trained vets to go administer on the animals when which is due. So when a farmer signs up, you don’t need to bother about losing them to preventable diseases, we will send you a reminder when each delivery is due.

We came this far because we have been and still are sincere with our numbers (traction), challenges and successes.  Investors don’t mostly leave us when they start due diligence with us. To tell you a secret, investors like sexy numbers so they rush on you, dig deeper only to realize you were not true to the numbers you presented on stage.

My first pitch was at MEST, followed by Seedstars all in Accra we won all to represent Ghana on a continental level in South Africa and Global level in Switzerland respectively. We have since been in the “good books of investors” across the world particularly, Africa, Asia, America, and Europe. Just keep your traction real!!

In fact, the entrepreneur-Investor relation is like a dating or courting process

Danaa: Are you saying that it must a relationship that involves some mollycoddlying?

Alima Bawah: 😃😃😃 to some extent, you need to keep constant communication, providing all their needs, responding to their calls even midnight, staying mid-night to meet their deadlines……

Danaa: Wow! Not really a rollercoaster as you stated earlier

Alima Bawah: a due diligence can take up to a year to close the deal

Danaa: That’s a long stretch. With the meager subscriptions farmers pay to cowtribe, how are your budgets supported in terms of payment of your outreach workers? Through investor support?

Danaa: The vaccines imported as well?

Alima Bawah: we have better negotiations on price of products we buy from importer because of the large volumes we buy, that is where me make margins, and can still over our product to farmers at about 30% less of market price

Danaa: Impressive

Alima Bawah: Cowtribe will start importing its own line of products soon after covid

Danaa: That’s massive! Cowtribe is surely a novelty and we pray it stays as old as wine

Alima Bawah: Amen

Danaa: Before we go to questions from readers,what do you think the future holds for entrepreneurs and brands like cowtribe in the face of uncertainties like COVID 19?

Alima Bawah: Its obvious no entrepreneur saw this coming, at least not anyone in my generation including me. 

It simply tells us to be prepared for the worse risk or situation at all times and learn to manage them when they come. A great entrepreneur is that who is able to manage risks either planned or unplanned. 

Cowtribe is fortunate to have built a robust supply chain system that can allow us to distribute virtually “anything” beyond veterinary vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

Danaa: Apt! Now questions from READERS..

Dr. Siddique: Interesting subject and great presentation. Thanks for that. 

What is the link between business pitching and marketing strategy? How do you differentiate that from a business proposal?

Alima Bawah: A business is more detailed and comprehensive

A pitch is only a bait to attract an investor to look into your portfolio

A business proposal is more detailed…..

Some tips you may want to think of when pitching:

1. You don’t need to rush your pitch to beat time

2. Remain calm

3. Stick to relevant and prime information

4. Keep the slides simple and less of words

5. Practice, practice, practice, don’t be complacent because you have been pitching 

6. Engage the audience and don’t direct them to read notes on your slides

Sanusi Basigu: How friendly is the cloud platform in terms of subscription, considering the capacity of rural illiterate farmers coupling telephone network challenges in hard to reach communities.

Alima Bawah: Our system is available offline, farmer do not need to interact with it, we have agents who sign up these farmers. Again the reminders we sent to farmers are in voice format and in their own language, so all they need is any feature phone (yam)

Eliasu Abdulai (Alex): Are Business Angel the same as investors in pitching

Alima Bawah: So we have Angel Investors (same as Business angels), they are much interested in impact than profit. Venture capitalist (or Venture investors) are more of the returns than the impact.

But dont be deceived too that, even Angel investors invest in a business they see scalability in and long that growth plan

As a start-up, define the kind of financing you that will suit you, I had always recommend grants to help you build your product portfolio. Debt, and equity are not for early-stage startups

At growth level, yes!! you are good for equity but even that, grants and impact investors have better term sheets

DR SIDDIQUE: I am inclined to ask you further, Alima, we  have different types of entrepreneurs, where do you belong? I asked because of the dynamism you added to yours. You are simply a winner!!

Alima Bawah: I am a social entrepreneur 😃

Danaa: What a session it has been! Questioners are unanimous that Alima knows her onions.

I am inspired and I know others too are.

Danaa: Alima, your final words before we draw the curtain

Alima Bawah: I have enough already, I want to thank you for the time and opportunity to share this to indicate my readiness to support where necessary, I can review pitch decks and script when you need me. As well as other related topics. I leave you with one of my pitches to assess and leave your comments. lol

Danaa: Sure

Alima Bawah: https://techstars.wistia.com/medias/gz1g0vdh0g

Danaa: Oswald says hi to Devine in your IT team

For those with questions about Alima’s dinner time with the queen of England, she will come your way on personality profile soon.

Alima, thanks for your time and depth. As the first lady to illuminate the orbit of the social monk session, I couldn’t have asked for a more enlightening engagement. #respect.

Good night to all!