Africa’s largest tech event beckons

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Windhoek

This year’s AfricaCom, the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem, takes place in Cape Town, South Africa, from November 17 to 19.

One of the themes that will be central to the event is how could Africa reach its potential of becoming a digital world leader. The event will look at a culture of innovation that must be promoted, both in terms of technology and in supporting entrepreneurship. The occasion will bring together operators, digital brands, tech companies and start-ups to debate innovation and the future of digital Africa.

Further, this year’s AfricaCom is echoing the continental call for entrepreneurial excellence in the technology sector. Consequently, the organisers have created an event that will bring together innovators and investors in one arena.
Taking place on Wednesday November 18, five short-listed start-ups will have three minutes to pitch in front of a panel of judges representing investors, incubators and start-up experts.

The AHUB, presented by Ericsson, is already attracting a lot of attention from both entrepreneurs and investors. The Ericsson AHUB will showcase talent, facilitate partnerships and encourage investment in a sector where there’s an abundance of ICT tech skills with little support from industry experts.

Visitors will experience a jam-packed itinerary of insightful, future-forward content, partner-matching, pitch and win presentations, drinks parties and innovative collaborations.

Peter Martin at Northwind Capital, as a potential investor in this sector and one of the judges of the Pitch & Win session, offers some advice:

• Pick the right investor – It is crucial to make sure you find the right investor. Do not just take money because it’s being offered. You don’t want an investor calling you five times a day. You want a partner that believes in you and will let you run your business. You also want an investor that can help and advise the business properly.

• Beware of funding consultants – There are definitely some good ones out there, but there are a lot of bad ones too. These consultants see you as an opportunity and they want a large retainer, an equity stake in your company, or both. Beware of these people and check their credentials. Make sure you find one of the good ones if you decide to use one.

• Sell yourself and don’t give up control – An investor is generally not investing in the business or the idea. They are investing in you. Convince them that you are the right person to do the job, and gain their trust. This will make them less likely to ask for control of the company.

• Get good advice on the structure of your company – Hopefully you will be with it for a long, successful, time
With regard to the perfect pitch, Tom Jackson from Disrupt Africa recommends the following:

• Keep it short, but effective – Get to the point by outlining the key elements in your pitch. Select your words sensibly, but ensure they are powerful enough to capture attention.

• Ensure you pitch is bolted – It’s all very good being able to wax lyrical about the problem you are solving, how impressive your numbers are, and what your customers think, but possible investors will want to drill down, whether with immediate follow-up questions or when it comes to negotiating a term sheet. Identify the facts, stick to it and avoid tapering off with unnecessary information.

• Be ready to undergo trial by fire – It is in the drilldown where it will emerge whether your concept is solid or whether it is in fact a superficial idea disguised by a nice pitch. Know your product or idea inside out and be willing to answer multifaceted questions.

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