How to Deliver an Award-Winning Business Pitch: Insights from TEF 2019

Fresh from serving as a judge at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum 2019, Aaron Fu, Venture Partner for the Anzisha Young Entrepreneurs Fund, shares insights on how to inspire and captivate your audience, whether pitching for your business or a project.

Aaron is an early-stage investor, entrepreneur, and strategic advisor to both start-ups as they scale, and corporates as they transform to gain agility for disruptive innovation. He has specifically focused on innovation in Africa over the past few years, working with global brands and entrepreneurs across diverse industries, from financial services to health to mobile to agriculture.

“I’ve always learned a lot — whether about a new industry or a new perspective about an industry” claims Fu, who served as a Judge at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum 2019.

ow to Deliver an Award-Winning Business Pitch: Insights from TEF 2019

Drawing insights from the Founders’ Den component of the Forum, Aaron shares three tips for the perfect pitch to always carry with you:

1. Make each try stronger than the last

The winner of BOTH the top prize and the audience choice was Powerstove, and they certainly deserved it! They were:
a) crisp on the problem
b) straightforward with the solution, and
c) demonstrated deep understanding of the value chain.

How did they do it?
Through PRACTICE and ITERATION, and I don’t mean use the exact same pitch from competition to competition (which I’ve also seen way too often).

Listen to the questions asked, and:
a) refine your deck to focus on the really critical stuff; as well as
b) better prepare answers to questions you didn’t quite nail

2. Connect your solution to your story

A good number of the pitches at the Founder’s Den told an amazing story of a deeply relatable and heart-tugging urgent problem — but sometimes, the solution fell short, or felt disconnected.

Entrepreneurship is a meandering journey, we all know this. Sometimes we discover things along the way that takes us to new directions. It felt like many teams started with a grand mission but along the way started saying yes to adjacent opportunities that came along the way, with those opportunities somewhere along the way becoming a more and more significant part of the business that the mission and activities seem a bit incoherent.

When describing a problem it is important to nail down what you’d like the audience to feel is the primary cause of it — is it price? is it time to access? is it suitability? is it education? — which is the factor contributing to the problem that if solved (BY ITSELF) can move the needle on the problem?

3. Connect your Numbers + Successes to Your Story

As we’re all starting out as founders, each achievement means a lot, whether that’s finally getting the website up and running, or your first expression of interest from a new city. I think it’s super important to celebrate those achievements within your team and sometimes in your investor updates.

But they usually don’t belong in a 3-minute pitch deck.
When listing achievements, always ask yourself “So What?”.

The audience is going to be looking for what this means towards the success of various aspects of your business. Be as specific as you can, “We are massive on social!” could be, “Our social media post click-through rate increased by 200% this month, this combined with a more engaging landing page has led to new user sign-ups from social media to increase by 50% this month.”

While you may feel nervous, it’s important to keep a cool head during your pitch. A great business pitch will have investors begging to invest in your company and it can bring valuable partnerships to the table.

The Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation that celebrates and accelerates Africa’s highest potential, very young entrepreneurs and a growing community of educators and other players who are pioneering how best to provide entrepreneur education and support in Africa. The program aims to inspire and support thousands of young Africans to start their own businesses and create jobs for others, and to improve the quality of entrepreneur support and teaching offered to high-school and university-aged entrepreneurs.

For more information on the prestigious Anzisha Prize, go to

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