Ricochet News

ENGEN Pitch & Polish entrepreneurial workshop comes to PE

Nov 8, 2017
ENGEN Pitch & Polish entrepreneurial workshop comes to PE

Saturday, 4 November, was certainly a significant day in the lives of the proud entrepreneurs who attended the ENGEN Pitch & Polish event.

“With the current unemployment rate at 37%, South Africans need to be realistic, and take charge of their own destiny, by embracing entrepreneurship as the engine that will propel this country forward,” encouraged Unathi Njokweni-Magida, the Head of Transformation & Stakeholder Engagement at Engen Petroleum Ltd.

The ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshop and competition, now in its eighth year, is designed to teach entrepreneurs the vital art of pitching their business, or business idea, to investors. This programme is made possible thanks to the collaboration between Engen Petroleum, Nedbank, and Raizcorp.

ENGEN Pitch & Polish has expanded this year’s national tour by bringing facilitator Justin Cohen on board.  Justin is a leading expert on the topic of pitching for business, as well as a best-selling author and TV talk-show host.

He opened the programme with an energising talk encouraging the delegates to focus on pitching to win in their field. The audience are primed to take on the roles of bankers and investors which facilitates critical thinking for all present.

“Pitching is like a first date,” explained Justin.

“You shouldn’t boast about all your best attributes without finding out what your date is interested in. You have to build trust and credibility in an authentic way.”

For the first time in Pitch & Polish history, all the competing contestants were chosen from the attendees who were present on the day.

More than 20 delegates had the opportunity to pitch for 10 seconds. The “top four”, chosen by the audience, went on to have their business pitches polished by Justin and the audience – providing much learning for all involved.

Two previous finalists joined the workshop to learn, participate and share their stories of success, including how ENGEN Pitch & Polish created a springboard for them to achieve their goals. They shared how they went from start-ups to employment creators, and from students to active contributors to the economy.

“This is what this programme is about and what will transform the country, as it equips entrepreneurs with the skills to pitch successfully,” explained Andisa Sikwebu from Nedbank.

Tips for the perfect pitch

  • Know who you are pitching to and what they need and want – is it money, job creation or social development? Your pitch needs to be relevant to the person to whom you are pitching.
  • Pitching is as much about what you say as about how you say it – be mindful of your tone, posture, eye contact and body language.
  • A successful and impactful pitch lies in your ability to bring energy and enthusiasm; this will then be mirrored by the person with whom you are engaging.
  • Believe in yourself, as well as in your idea or business.
  • People do business with people they know, trust and like – don’t be afraid to show your personality!
  • Use a statement or question, in your opening, that gets your audience’s immediate attention.

The magic of ENGEN Pitch & Polish is an unforgettable experience. It provides fertile ground for the citizens of our country to solve the pressing problems we face.

Meet the Port Elizabeth Contestants:

  1. Shelley Koekemoer - feminine hygiene product idea (2nd place)
  2. Phindiwe Mbuda - hand cream manufacturer idea (3rd place)
  3. Bongani Mngaza - interactive education app business (1st place)
  4. Eldridge Plaatjies - irradiation idea

Thanks to clear guidance from Justin, combined with intelligent questions from the delegates, pitches were sharpened and polished throughout the day. The design of ENGEN Pitch & Polish creates a platform whereby everyone is learning all the time. While the audience members are watching the contestants being pushed to improve, learn, define the problem, and present the solution, they apply the principles to their own businesses and ideas!

The day concludes with a competition segment, where the four contestants pitch their business or business idea to the judges. The judging panel was composed of Unathi Njokweni-Magida, from Engen Petroleum Ltd, Andisa Sikwebu, from Nedbank, and Asa Mazomba, a 2104 finalist, from TenderPoint. The judges asked clarifying questions and gave critical feedback which was explained further by Justin who shared the rationale behind the judges’ thinking.

Congratulations to Bongani Mngaza from Bit Avenue for winning and to all for attending - and taking action - as this is the secret to building your business!

For more information visit www.pitchandpolish.com.

In this picture (from left to right): Andisa Sikwebu, Shelley Koekemoer, Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Asa Mazomba, Phindiwe Mbuda and Bongani Mngaza.