Monday, February 08, 2016

Pitching to the Elusive Investor

Today, I succeeded in ticking off one of the items on my MBA Bucket List: Speak in public.
Dr. O shared some interesting insights on how to prepare an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a speech given to persuade a potential investor in 30 seconds or less (the estimated time it takes to move from one floor to another in an elevator). Things to keep in mind when developing an elevator pitch:
  • Clarify your target
  • Write it down
  • Answer 3 key questions (Who are you? What do you do? Why your product and not another?)
  • Tailor it to the audience
  • Simplify terms (no jargon)
  • Practise
Then came the interesting part. We were asked to develop a 30-second elevator speech for Fola Adeola (a popular Nigerian businessman and politician) and 10 volunteers got to pitch to a trio of investors (fellow classmates, not real investors).
The tension was high and you could hear a pin drop in the classroom.
At the end of the presentation, the class voted for each business idea. Here are the results:
  • Shipping management (27 votes)
  • I.T business (5 votes)
  • Cocoa export (5 votes)
  • Pepper canning (2 votes)
  • Farming (2 votes)
  • I.T company (2 votes)
  • Foreign-exchange transfer (2 votes)
  • Expansion of training institute (1 vote)
  • Leadership training (1 vote)
  • Microfinance (0 vote)
What interested me about the voting pattern is that the social enterprises (training and microfinance) got the least votes while the purely commercial ventures (shipping and cocoa exports) got the most votes. It raises the following questions:
  • Does this mean that social entrepreneurs are better off seeking grants from ''benevolent'' international organizations rather than pitching to ''profit-conscious'' business investors?
  • Should venture capitalists embrace good corporate social responsibility practices by establishing a fund specifically for social entrepreneurs?
  • Can social entrepreneurs increase their chances of getting funds by getting their numbers right?
If you're a social entrepreneur, where do you usually source your funds?

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