Twitter Chat with Taffi Ayodele: Pitching your business to investors

pitching a business

You’ve got the idea for your business down and you’ve even started making sales. You are ready to grow your business, but the funds simply aren’t there. Lack of financing and where to look for it is one of the biggest setbacks for entrepreneurs and access to it can make or break a fledgling business.

One solution to the “where to look for investors” problem is pitch competitions and other established programs that – once you get into them – bring the investors to you. Now all you have to do is woo said investors.

But how do you go about finding these programs? How do you apply to one? How do you make the most of the opportunity? And how do you ensure your pitch stands out once the investors come around?

Join us Thursday Nov. 17th for a Twitter chat with Taffi Ayodele, the co-founder of Thando’s, a fashionable African footwear brand. Thando’s participated in SLA’s 2014 Pitch Competition and were the 3rd place winners. Utilizing skilled African artisans, Thando’s creates comfortable, foldable and beautiful flats for the busy woman.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • How to find out where the investors will be
  • Finding, applying & making the most of pitch competitions & accelerator programs
  • Preparing to pitch to investors
  • Thando’s journey & how they have grown since 2014

Twitter chat details

  • Date: Thursday Nov. 17, 2016
  • Time: 12pm NYC // 6pm Lagos  // 8pm Nairobi
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

Help us spread the word:

Join @ThandosShoes for #SLAChats about pitching to investors Nov. 16 at 6pm Lagos time Click To Tweet

pitching your business

About Taffi Ayodele

Taffi Ayodele holds an MBA specializing in Global Business and Entrepreneurship and a BA in Economics from NYU. Taffi was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of New York University and serves on the Global Initiatives and Student Life committees. Prior to Stern, she served as Director of the Office of Executive Initiatives at the New York State Dormitory Authority where she developed Authority-wide diversity programs and initiatives to broaden procurement opportunities and increase utilization of women and minority-owned businesses.

Together with her partner, J.G. Ayodele, Taffi founded Thando’s. Their mutual love for Africa, art and each other, inspired them to create an innovative footwear line that facilitates a modern woman’s busy lifestyle while supporting African artists.

SLA Accelerator Demo Day

Accelerator Demo Day

Join us on November 20 in Lagos, Nigeria for the Demo Day of our 2016 SLA Accelerator. Demo Day is a public viewing for investors, corporates senior executives and the press to view our most recent accelerator startups.

The SLA Accelerator is a 3-month program designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs.

The selected businesses are:

Art Splash Studio – A virtual art studio offering a social art experience through our Paint Nite painting classes hosted at different venues in Abuja.

BathKandy Co. – Creates sumptuous dessert-inspired beauty treats for women who crave the finer things.

Bubble Tii – Bringing the Bubble Tea phenomena to Africa.

DeliveryBros – Helps you save time and stress through pickup and drops from the market to your house or office.

Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services – An eco-friendly social enterprise that produces premium organic produce through hydroponics and community action.

Keek’s – Designs tailored weight loss packages for busy women who want a plan that is both effective and simple to implement.

Koko’s Kitchen – An indigenous brand of confectionary dry mixes specially tailored to suit the taste buds and pocketbook of the quintessential person on the go.

Independent Personal Assistant (iPA) – Provides strategic virtual assistance to high-level executives across Africa. We take care of the mundane while you focus on what matters. – Solves the medical industry’s procurement problem, by providing a technology enabled distribution solution resulting in transparency and simplicity.

Shuttlers – Enables professionals to access comfortable and efficient transportation to and from work using seat matching technology.

SLA Accelerator is in partnership with the Work in Progress! Alliance and Guaranty Trust Bank

The Work in Progress! Alliance is focused on unlocking the economic potential of young women and men in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia. The project aims to enable them to generate sustainable and living incomes – by finding regular employment or starting enterprises. Alliance partners include Oxfam, VC4Africa and Butterfly Works

Guaranty Trust Bank is recognized as one of the most profitable and well managed financial institutions in Africa for providing quality service, ethics, professionalism, integrity, innovation and internationally accepted corporate governance standards.

SLA Accelerator is also one of 16 global incubators and accelerators selected as a Village Capital Community

VilCap Communities enables anyone, anywhere to use peer-selected investment to support entrepreneurs within their communities. In 2016, each VilCap Community will be running its own entrepreneur training program and investing in two ventures using Village Capital’s peer selection methodology.

10 things I learned about pitching to an investor

Andrea Barrica Startup Istanbul

She Leads Africa recently had a free webinar session with Andrea Barrica on the fundamentals of pitching your business – The Do’s and Oh No She Didn’t of Investor Pitching. 

Andrea Barrica is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, a global seed fund and accelerator for early stage startups based in Silicon Valley. She was previously co-founder at inDinero, an accounting and taxes software solution where she led the team to the first $1M in sales in 10 months.

Here are ten things we learned from her.

1. Don’t try to pitch to all investors

Most of the interactions that you have with investors are not investor pitches. Most of the interactions that you have with investors are about how you can get the right type of investor who wants to hear about your company and is willing to hear about your pitch. When you have an investor who is interested, it is then time to have the investor pitch.Andrea Barrica

2. Differentiate yourself, be clear, and don’t overly pitch

Create a level of personal connection. People invest in people they like. Make it a conversation (never corner someone in a party). Keep it brief, and tell your story in 60 seconds or less. Understanding the market and asking questions and advice versus pitching the business is a great way to get investors interested. Be natural, authentic, and humble.

3. If you do not have an idea, investors will not be willing to invest

  • Support your idea, prove it out
  • Wait until you have traction and a great team
  • Wait until you really need the money. However, when you really need the money the most, the investor has all of the leverage versus having a great team and traction without the desperation.

4. Use your resources, networks, and community to find investors

  • Meet people — It’s better to meet investors when you’re not fundraising
  • Standard networking — get introductions from other investors
  • Go where investors hang out and then find the ones that you respect
  • Write — start writing your own blog and content

The key is running your businessit is important to build, go out there and get some traction. The first investors will be family and those you are close to.                                                          

5. When meeting investors, know who is going to be there, and how many people—know your audience!

The important thing to know about a meeting is that, no one is as interested in you as you think they are. You must be brief. Think about how to you make your presentation interesting. How will you make it unique?Andrea Barrica

6. If you want to stand out, work the room, run the meeting, tell a story

Make a personal connection, research the people in your room. Don’t make it to feel robotic; not too many slides. If people ask questions at the end and if what you presented was clear, that means that they are interested. Don’t leave asking: are you interested? Rather leave with: will you be willing in investing; how much will you be willing to invest?

7. The don’ts

Pitching is a conflict between what we say, what we mean to say, and what the person actually hears. What we say and what we mean to say is not what the investors hear.

Don’t: Create slides first

This is a bad way to start a presentation. So don’t rely too much on your decks and your slides.

Don’t: Be A 1 pitch pony. Don’t only have one pitch prepared

Have more than one prepared. Prepare for the different types of investors and what they may care about most.

Don’t: Forget the 20:1 rule

For every one minute of a presentation, practice out loud. Make sure the delivery and confidence is there.

8. The do’s

Do: Tell a strategic story

Tell a story that will help the listener understand something about your story that they didn’t before. How does my story help me to achieve my goal? It is important to ground out the things that you want people to know about you in short stories.

Do: Know your secret sauce

How will you win when everyone else fails? It is your differentiation.

Do: Know what is the most compelling thing about your business

Use this cheat sheet:

  • Traction
  • Team- past experience and your background
  • Product
  • Vision

Do: Pass the 60 seconds test

You need to get someone interested about your company in 60 seconds, no matter what industry you are in.

9. If you want to get in touch with foreign investors, build a great business

They will reach out to you. Make sure people know you. How so? Support local organizations. What are you doing? What problem are you solving? How do you understand the market?

10. You close deals

A great pitch deck and a horrible pitch won’t do anything for you. So how can you improve? Get together a small group of other young entrepreneurs and force yourself to practice consistently. Go out to new events and networking opportunities and keep pitching. You won’t get good unless you do it.

Take improv classes or acting classes. Have a few friends video tape you pitching and talk about ways to improve with your friends. The only way that you will improve is by giving and getting brutal advice—patting each other on the back, will not help.

Want to watch the full webinar? Check out the video below:


Four things you must have to be pitch perfect

What makes a pitch perfect?
Cookie clapping

This is a question many entrepreneurs ask as they prepare to speak to investors. It is also  a question we are asked quite frequently at SLA. We’ve heard a number of pitches through our own pitch competitions, both the SLA 2014 and SLA 2015 Entrepreneur Showcase.

We know what moves us. To make sure we are not alone, we’ve also looked at the research and numbers and found that there are 4 items all investors look for in a pitch.

To make the point clear, first watch this video of Aaron Krause of Scrub Daddy. He is no Motherland Mogul but his pitch makes a few items easily identifiable.

The 4 items and takeaways are clear:

Enthusiasm and passion WINS

U.S. based Shark Tank investor, Barbara Cocoron, says she knows within the first 40 seconds of a founder speaking whether she will invest or not. Does your demeanor show that you are confident in your business or are you anxious and fidgety?

When you speak, are you excited about your business? Do you have a genuine passion for your vision?

Your business solves a problem and your solution is of value

Meaning, what is your value proposition? What makes your business stand out from the rest in the market.

What problem is it solving in the world? How are you solving the differently from the rest of the companies in your industry? State this concisely, clearly, and early.

Your business works in the real world

Also known as proof of concept, investors want to know that there is an actual need for your product or service. Have you taken your business to market? Have you made sales? What’s your revenue for this year and/or last?

The only way to know that a business is valuable is by taking it to market and letting the people decide its value with their money.

You are the one to run the business

We all know; coming up with a business idea is easy, execution is key. Why are you the one to make the idea fly? Are you clear in your communication and can you. Have you led a business in the past? Have you taken the time to develop some of the prerequisite skills for running a business; that is, negotiation, project management.

As we see from Aaron Krause’s pitch, not every investor will be immediately wowed by your idea. All you need is one!

One investor who believes in your business, vision, and you. But, in order to bring that one right investor on board, all four items —enthusiasm, value proposition, proof of concept, and business acumen— must be present.