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Don’t assume you know more about tech than those you pitch to – Clicks head

Startups that pitch their apps or web platform to corporates should not assume that they are more knowledgeable technologically than those that they are pitching to. So says Amanda Graham, Head of Business Development at Clicks Group.

This is one of the six “obvious” mistakes that startups pitching to corporates make, says Graham. The others include (among others) failing to read up on the company’s existing products, assuming that the corporate does not have access to world benchmarks and presenting to the corporate why everything they are doing is wrong.

Startups must not assume that they are more knowledgeable technologically than individuals that they are pitching to, says Clicks manager

In an emailed Q&A as part of Ventureburn’s series on pitching to corporates, Graham details how startups can polish and better prepare their pitches.

Ventureburn: What are some important tips for startups looking to approach the Clicks Group with their idea for an app, widget or platform?

Amanda Graham: Most corporates try to limit the number of service providers they work with so the startup really must consider what problem it is solving for the company or customer and the possible business benefit before pitching.

They must also research if this idea already exists or not (a frequent error is pitching ideas already in the market place as new). Also consideration of scalability of the idea, ease of integration with existing systems, and the offer of a free pilot as a call to action to get the corporate interested quicker. Basically, ensure you know the current solutions architecture well and don’t use the session as an opportunity to get to know the systems landscape.

VB: What channels should they go through and what kinds of things should they have prepared and got in order before approaching the Clicks Group with their ideas?

AG: Usually you should try to find out the name of the head of IT, head of bus development or the head of marketing and try and contact all three at once – another corporate frustration is finding out different people are talking to a company at the same time.

Any presentation needs to include an upfront view of the big idea and how this should compliment the current organisation focus and direction (again already in public domain of listed companies) – followed by detail on the idea or detail on how the idea can benefit Clicks or some financial benefit modelling based on information alreadt available to listed companies in the marketplace.

VB: In general, how can startups improve the way they deal with corporates? Are there certain things that make them look more professional?

AG: Yes research into the company thereby showing how their idea is relevant and adding some realistic financial modelling. Show a clear link between the idea and the corporate strategy. Provide feedback on how the idea will differentiate the corporate from its competitors. Ensure slides are neither busy nor amateurish. Start and end presentation on time

VB: What are some common mistakes you see startups that want to sell tech products or services to the Clicks Group make?

AG: There are six obvious mistakes that are made that are simply irritating to corporates. These are:

  1. Getting the company name wrong or not researching the group online to understand how the company works
  2. Not using or reviewing in detail the existing services offered by the company. For example the Clubcard or clubcard benefits or size of clubcard or online shopping or the current level of personalisation.
  3. Assuming the corporate does not have access to world benchmarks and does not have at minimum a  three-year roadmap.
  4. Presenting to the corporate why everything they are doing is wrong.
  5. Assuming that you are more knowledgeable technologically than individuals that you are pitching to.
  6. Not acknowledging all members of the team you are pitching to, and hence concentrating on getting a single person on side.

VB: How many pitches do you currently get from startups per month on average and what kinds of services and products are they usually pitching?

AG: It’s difficult to say across the business.

VB: What kinds of (innovative) services and products is the Clicks Group looking for?

AG: Offline shopping of full product range in smallest possible size app and a unique individualised promotional offers not currently available in Clicks or South Africa.

Want to learn more about pitching to corporates? Read Ventureburn’s series of Q&As below.

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