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Ampion is a Berlin-based accelerator and advisory firm promoting technology entrepreneurship in Africa. In this series, Ventureburn follows the organisation’s Ampion Venture Bus tour through Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, in its seven-day bootcamp for entrepreneurs.
Day six was the final stretch of our journey. The bus had to travel over 1 000 kilometres to reach Cape Town from Bloemfontein. It was going to be a very long day.
The bus journey was ablaze with those practising their speeches, reworking slides, and incorporating new ideas to see what would work. Unfortunately, the bus hit a snag a day or so earlier, which meant the battery powering all of the plug points could no longer cope with the power being drawn for mobile phones and laptops. This added a bit of extra tension as many participants worked until their laptop batteries died, while others took the pen and paper analogue approach.
The Ampion Crew arranged the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock, Cape Town to stay open for us. We’d be able to use their many offices to continue working on the final pitching session.
Upon arrival, everyone was delighted not only by the food, which consisted of copious amounts of pizza, salads, soft drinks, and other goodies, but the usage of the Bandwidth Barn’s stable internet connection was the icing on the cake. We all learned that travelling from country to country, no matter how much you’ve planned ahead, will result in shoddy and spotty internet connections.
It was finally time for the last night of pitch training to take place. For teams, it was now or never to take in final overall feedback from the mentors before demo day the following afternoon. People were overworked, pushed to their limits, stressed, but were still rearing to go.
The teams were summoned one by one with skEyeFarm being called in first. The group made a few mistakes with their pitch, but stood their ground. Primarily they didn’t talk about the mapping software for the drones or how much it will cost. Another concern was how some of the slides were setup and they weren’t fluid enough.
Next up was Safety Maps, one of the single-person pitching teams and the only company not focussing on agriculture. The platform is centred around reporting crimes in cities and showing users crime hotspots. According to the mentors, the slides weren’t attention grabbing and one of the frames — showing a cat with a city in the background — was off-putting. The intro question also needed to be changed to something more of the audience could answer in order to grab their attention. The overall presentation was praised for only having existed and being put together of two days.
Pulazi’s slides were also looked at when it came to the presentation, and mentors suggested some changes be made to them as well as merging some of the frames. The presenters were also asked to stand centre stage and work on their stances.
Flow’s pitch managed to come in under time, which the previous teams hadn’t managed to accomplish. Some issues were also pointed out on the slides, such as putting “up to” before certain numbers in order to not have definite results. The team was asked about having other revenue streams as it would take the customer two years to pay off the investment into one of Flow’s devices. It was also suggested it may be possible to acquire bank funding with normal interest rates for Flow’s product. Having the team mentioning their background was also reassuring to the audience.
When asked about their solution, inVnture stated they’re starting off as a matchmaking platform. As with most of the other teams, their slides needed tweaking. The mentors suggested the team have an emotional connection for the audience, such as creating a profile.
Kilimo, which was previously named AgriFair, had their own share of problems. Unfortunately, their pitch and explanation were too long. There were still some items missing, such as the “How” with the logistics and other aspects. The mentors like the presentation itself. One of the team members and the mentors had a long discussion about the overall presentation with the member feeling flustered. It had been a long and intensive journey after all.
SheFarms had revamped some of their offerings, such including Software as a Service and purchasing redeemable points for the users. They were praised for their pictures and slides, but their body language needed work on. Overall theirs went over well.
The mentors asked e.Mkuyu about the value add of the elearning platform, to which the team answered they’ll match users with farmers. They were also asked about the practicality of obtaining a degree in farming without having experienced farming, to which the team answered it was. The team faired well against the judges feedback.
The team to receive the least amount of feedback was Agri2go, which meant their pitch was near completion. The mentors asked them to use images on their slides as well as what the business was. When the team said it’s “essentially eBay for farmers,” they were told to say that in the final pitch.
The final team of the evening and the second one-man team, Bullprotector was asked to talk slower with the pitch. He also needed to show clear value to the farmers and clean up some of the slides.
It was after 2am when we left the Bandwidth Barn and headed for a hostel in Cape Town. After a long day, many of the participants and myself headed downstairs to relax, have a drink, and talk amongst ourselves. Tomorrow would be the final day of the journey and the day they found out something or other.