The Johannesburg leg and last workshop of the ninth annual ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme was held on Saturday, 13 October, and was attended by very engaged and enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs. Since inception, this national entrepreneurial workshop and competition – hosted in partnership with Engen Petroleum Ltd, Nedbank, Raizcorp and Caxton Local Media – has helped over 11 000 entrepreneurs improve the way they pitch their businesses to potential investors.

Following the opening talk by Justin Cohen (best-selling author and international speaker) during which he discussed the truth about motivation and the value of delivering a polished pitch, Allon Raiz (founder of Raizcorp) proclaimed that it was inspirational to see so many entrepreneurs. “My entrepreneurship journey started as a ‘one-man band’ and I, too, had to pitch constantly. The mission of ENGEN Pitch & Polish is to give you the best chance when the opportunity arises. It is your job to convince an investor to spend money on you, your product or service and that they will get a return. We need each and every one of you to grow this country, so learn and perfect your pitch and then go on and employ people and make the change.”

Through the pitch of Thami Biyela, who has a software-development business, the delegates saw the value of being clear and concise when describing the core business. Bringing in an emotive aspect is effective in capturing the attention of a potential investor; however, the numbers must also be sound.

Sipho Mampe, who came in third place with his lab equipment manufacturing company, learned that being authentic was powerful and that it instantly made his pitch clearer. He delivered a detailed breakdown of the funding required and, based on the feedback, now understands that he must understand the profitability of each product line.

Coming in second place, Thuso Motau, who manufactures household detergents, learned that it will add credibility to her pitch to include where her products are currently being sold. She was articulate in presenting the problem and how her business solves it. Going into greater depth about the revenue and profit would have been advantageous.

Through the day, Mlungisi Nkomo, who is developing a virtual reality app, was able to pique interest with his tech idea, and learned not to over-complicate his business model at the start-up stage. Research should be intensive and relevant to the local market. A key learning was that he must know the input costs first before putting a price on his product.

The winning pitch came from Mmatsatsi Rampa, who has a paint-manufacturing business. Her pitch was confident and demonstrated how having a great presence illustrates your authority about the business and the industry. You must show potential investors that you have a profitable business when you require funding for expansion plans.

Mike Stead from Engen Petroleum Ltd and a seasoned judge for the programme commented, “Today we saw a good variety of contestants in diverse industries. A key learning is the value in having a solid business case and being able to express it.” Mervyn Pillay from Nedbank added, “This interactive workshop gives great hope for South Africa as job creation will continue to be through small businesses, and the learnings today help support them on their journey.”

Insider tip: Be authentic. People buy from people. Share your story and explain the WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

As the 2018 winner of the Johannesburg leg of ENGEN Pitch & Polish, Mmatsatsi Rampa won R6 000 and a week of training at Raizcorp in Johannesburg worth R150 000. She also has the opportunity to progress to the semi-final and become the ultimate 2018 ENGEN Pitch & Polish winner and receive further cash injections and other prizes.

Congratulations to everyone for attending, for taking action and for being the light that shines on the local entrepreneurial environment.

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In this picture (from left to right):
• Mlungisi Nkomo, VR app developer from Vosloorus
• Thuso Motau, household-detergent manufacturer from Pretoria – second place
• Mmatsatsi Rampa, paint manufacturer from Johannesburg North – first place
• Sipho Mampe, lab-equipment manufacturer from Soweto – third place
• Thami Biyela, software developer from Soweto