Lessons on Pitching: from JamJar Founding Partner Frances Quarcoopome

About Seedstars Pitch competition

Seedstars World promotes, connects and invests up to $1.5 million in emerging market startups, through its exclusive startup competition, held in in 60 countries. Seedstars is one of the largest pitch competitions in the world, they hold a series of local start up competitions, a regional one and then global.


The motivation to pitch

I had been following Seedstars for over 3 years, and had been thinking about pitching, however I didn’t quite have the idea yet. I just knew that if JamJar was going to expand into Africa we needed something scalable and relevant. Within the last 3 years of working in the events industry, our experience has highlighted challenges that our customers face, particularly international customers who are unsure about the African market.

I decided there was a solution for this: A platform which makes it easier for clients to find, book and plan events in Africa, through our network of venues and suppliers. This is what I pitched and although it was my first time pitching ever, I came second place.

The whole experience of pitching was thrilling and also interesting, in terms of venturing into the tech space. The one thing I noticed was also the fact that in Accra, I was the only woman pitching. Now, some people say this would have been an advantage, but considering that all the other contestants and the judges were male, I wasn’t too sure. I did however see this as a great opportunity to stand out further by delivering a stellar pitch.


Lessons learnt as the only woman pitching

  1. Don’t be intimidated, You know what you are capable of and no matter what, do what you have to
  2. Put your gender aside, let your capabilities shine through
  3. Never see it as a problem, rather an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.


Lessons for a successful Pitch

  1. Be clear about what your product is and what you are trying to achieve
  2. Practice your pitch, but most of all, your answers to the tough questions
  3. Get a mentor, someone who has pitched before that can guide you and give you valuable insights
  4. Sometimes it’s not about whether your product is good, but what the pitch competition is trying to achieve. You may have the perfect pitch, but if your solution doesn’t align with the goals of the fund, it may not work out. If you can find this out before hand, do so.
  5. The key here is to keep going, believe in what you are trying to create, and the problem you are solving.

The biggest lesson I learnt is that, there is still a long way to go for people and companies to acknowledge the tech innovations in the creative industries, particularly fashion, events, photography, design etc.

Many investors continue to focus on Fintech, agriculture, health and education, and although these may be the big industries, it’s also time to value the creative and service industries and provide them with the support they need.


About JamJar

JamJar was created in 2013 out of frustration with the way corporate and creative events were organised in Ghana. Many events felt poorly organised and were identical. As a result JamJars’ founding partner, Frances Quarcoopome, found the need to put her skills to work and provide the industry with a creative alternative.

JamJar continues to be recognised for its innovative and forward thinking design concepts and exceptional event planning services.

Their vision is to be the top African creative agency, fueled with passion, innovation and the desire to make every client happy.



 Do You have any tips on how to deliver a successful pitch? 

Let us know here.

Let’s pitch your business, shall we


A pitch is a 30 seconds monologue of what you do, why you do it, and how your work is innovative or unique.  People have short attention spans and busy calendars, so you want to have a clear, brief, and enticing pitch prepared. Your pitch will ensure that you make the most of every opportunity, and present your commitment and yourself in the best light possible.

You may be wondering what an elevator pitch is.


An “elevator pitch” is a concise,carefully planned, and well-practiced description about your business that your grandmother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator from the 10th floor to the ground.

Wherever you are networking; meeting with funders, writing a grant application, or riding an elevator with someone you want to impress, you should have a pitch prepared.

To create a pitch, imagine this…

You meet Glenda on the 10th floor. Glenda is a potential partner and she asks you about your business, describe it in a way that is unforgettable and stands out.

Now, follow these steps.


Select 4-8 specific keywords that describe your business. When you select, be authentic and original. Don’t try to be who you are not or use words with unclear meanings.


The simpler the sentence, the better. How can you organize your keywords into an idea in the least number of words?


The sentence should remain at the heart of your pitch. However, to effectively engage your audience, start with a brief description of why.This can be useful if the issue you are seeking to address is complicated, the listener will understand why as you explain what you do.

Expand (a little)

You can add several sentences to your pitch that answer who, what, when, where, why, and how, but remember to be concise.


The only way to ensure that your pitch goes smoothly is to practice (a lot). Record yourself while practicing to make sure you’re presenting yourself and your commitment well.

Practice with friends, in the end they should be able to echo the key points. Think about the questions people may ask, and prepare your answers.

Now, here’s what to do when delivering a pitch.


The first thing you need to do is figure out who you are talking to and what you want them to do for you.

Are they potential funders, volunteers, or partners? This will guide your pitch.

Problem statement

The challenge you intend to address is important, but you shouldn’t dwell on it extensively. Quickly outline the issue, then explain what you are doing about it and why.

Competitive advantage

Explain the aspects of your commitment that differentiate you from everyone else. Address how your commitment is new, specific, and measurable, and why you are positioned to tackle the challenge your business addresses.

A business needs to clarify what sets it apart; its own “purple cow”. Something that is unique in a crowded market.


Humanize your work. Pick an inspiring and engaging story that supports your pitch, steer clear of jargon, and demonstrate why your commitment matters.

Always have stories ready when networking.

And then there's Rainbow — or just Bow — and she is a badass.

Next steps

You didn’t spend all this time preparing for nothing. Ask for a business card, a follow-up call, or an opportunity to send along more information.

Think of a way to continue your engagement after the conversation ends. Always follow up promptly, within three days at most.

In conclusion, determine what success looks like to your business and leverage the right communication tools.  Small businesses often think they need to be on every social media platform to keep up.

Businesses should first define what it considers to be its success; and then pick the tool that best tells this success story. This tool may be a monthly newsletter, a slideshow of impactful images on your website, or a blog post or narrative video that can be shared on Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t be caught without your pitch ready!

6 key points to consider when writing an elevator pitch

In this day and era of being an entrepreneur, you may find yourself writing an elevator pitch over and over again. They say collaborations are the best way to engage in business. There will be different organizations, brands and personalities you would like to collaborate or work together with on a particular project. It’s key to identify a brand/organisation that is in line with what you believe in and shares similar values, and goals with you.

Today, we will be sharing 5 key factors to take into consideration while crafting your elevator pitch. This does not only work for business owners, entrepreneurs. Even those in employment looking to partner with other companies on different projects may find this useful.

Keep it short and simple

An elevator pitch shouldn’t be too long.  You want to pass your message almost immediately in the first few sentences. So keep things short, clear and precise.

State who you are, what you want from them, what you are offering, why you chose them and how you can work together moving forward.

Get down to the nitty-gritty 

This is your introduction, where you sell your brand and yourself or what you do.

At this point try to be very specific with the information that is required to get to know you better. Sell yourself and/or your product/ brand.

Emphasize the value you offer

After introducing yourself, you now need to explain or reveal more on how you do what you, and why they should work with you.

This is where you clearly define your qualities, strength and your passion for your career. Also show the value it comes with.

Include links and Photos

This is quite important especially if you are using your products as a selling point. Have the images attached where necessary.

You can even links to your website where more of what you do can be seen and assessed.

Mention any huge achievements

Here is where you state all that you have achieved in relation to what you are proposing to offer. The value will then be easily aligned with your achievements, depending on the person receiving your pitch.

Follow up

After sending in your elevator pitch, give 3-5 days before you send a quick email to touch base. They may missed your mail or are holding back on their response. This can happen easily as they receive many emails, and depending on schedules, emails can be overlooked.

A kind reminder to check your mail is necessary. You can even forward your initial email again so they don’t have to search too hard and can see you sent it earlier on in the week.

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:


Webinar with Andrea Barrica: The Do’s & Don’ts of Investor Pitching (Feb 2)

Don’t miss another event! Join our community and always stay informed.

RSVP for the webinar

Andrea Barrica-1If raising capital from an investor is one of your top business goals for 2016, then you need to join us on February 2 for a special webinar with an experienced entrepreneur and venture partner from Silicon Valley.

Some of the questions we’ll cover:

  • At what stage in your business should you be looking to speak with investors?
  • How long should your business pitch be?
  • How can you find investors interested in your business?
  • Do you need a professionally designed pitch deck?

About Andrea Barrica:  

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.

Andrea was a guest trainer at She Hive Lagos and coached our bootcamp participants on effective pitching and is excited to work with the SLA community again.

RSVP for the webinar here. Make sure you’re part of our community to get access to more upcoming events and programs.

Want to learn more about preparing for pitch events and competitions? Read our article on 4 things you must have to be pitch perfect.

RSVP for the webinar