Pastor Tommy Deuschle in collaboration with Emerging Ideas, VBF Bulawayo and RTG Inspirations will be running a series of pitch nights in Bulawayo where local and regional entrepreneurs are going to be pitching to an audience of about 300 people every month, explaining their ideas and innovations and getting feedback from the audience.
The founders who pitch also benefit from pre and post pitch support provided to help them iron out their models, and hone their presentation skills.The air buzzed with innovation, the atmosphere was saturated with brilliance and one could sense a refreshing breeze of hope and optimism for a distressed Bulawayo.
The event (which was trending on Twitter under #pitchbyo), was attended by more than 250 budding entrepreneurs, the business community and members of the public who were all drawn by innovation and the hope to turn around the economic fortunes of Bulawayo.
There were breath-taking performances from Salt and Light Dance crew who entertained the entrepreneurs gathered and the host Terrence Mugova, founder of Educate, added to the glitz and glamour that accompanied the occasion.
Takunda Chingonzo- Founder of Neolab Technology in his comment thanked those from the public sector who took time to attend the event.
“It is a commendable fact that in this first pitch night for Bulawayo, we had representatives from different government institutions who came out to support local budding entrepreneurs. They actually gave insight and feedback to startups and I think it’s great that they begin to see how young Zimbabweans are standing up to solve the problems they are facing on a daily basis. We had people from Potraz, and the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services (ICTPCS),” he said.
He further added that Bulawayo was well on its revival path as companies and individuals pledged to fund the start ups.
“The other thing that I found to be interesting and inspiring is the fact that we had people from the community rising up and pledging to assist the startups through investing, advising and providing resources that the startups need. I mean even this first Pitch Night was only made possible through the support from RTG Inspirations and the many volunteers who came together to make it happen. Despite the hardships and challenges, our people are ready and willing to rise up and support real deal entrepreneurs and the mix of public entities, private sector companies and the bulawayo community are the ingredients that we need to build and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bulawayo, It is happening! ” said Chingonzo.
The event started off with guests grabbing some free coffee and treats provided by RTG Inspirations. The Salt and Light Dance crew broke into a “flashmob” type dance as everyone settled down in fascination…..followed by a few opening words from the founder of PitchNights, Pastor Tommy Deuschle.
The pitches addressed various gaps existing in Bulawayo. First up was Paul Kuona who pitched his startup- Washen, which is a laundry service that liberates time and greatly diminishes the cost of doing laundry, all done under 36 hours. The idea was as a result of the realisation that students and working professionals hardly have enough time on their hands and laundry always gets in the way of deadlines and other commitments.
Second was Kudzai Madzamba’s “Teeme” which is a drop shipping startup that seeks to achieve faster design to print turnaround by intelligently matching design orders with printing agencies from a community curated database. Noting that the T-shirt printing market is heavily fragmented, there are too many agents offering subpar quality prints who “outsource” to other printing agencies and that just drives up the cost, results in delays, compromises on the design and quality and just becomes messy. This being one of the problems that she is solving.
The last pitch was presented by Michael Dera – founder of Hackshack who, by the end of his pitch, was being referred to as Professor hardware. A fitting name for a founder whose startup brings the ability to build hardware to Zimbabwean students and hardware developers. Michael believes that electronics and hardware development should be open and easily accessible to everyone and that currently developers and students undertaking hardware projects have no access to resources, tools or expert community support. The process of looking for resources and tools is frustrating in itself and this has led to a lot of ideas and innovation dying before it is explored. These are some of the problems that Hackshack is solving.
The next Pitch Night in Bulawayo will be on the 3rd of June 2016 at the Rainbow Hotel. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to get their free ticket via the following: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/emerging-ideas-pitch-night-bulawayo-powered-by-rtg-inspirations-tickets-25607287085?ref=estw