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Pitching to Woolworths? Not just about idea, but team behind it – online head

Do you have an idea for an app or platform that you want to pitch to Woolworths? Getting the retailer’s attention is not just about how strong your idea or solution is, but comes down to the potential of the person or the team that is involved, says the retailer’s head of online Liz Hillock.

In a Q&A below, Hillock responded to questions from Ventureburn on what to prepare yourself for as a tech entrepreneur looking to sell an innovative solution to Woolworths.

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It’s difficult for any corporate to invest in an idea that is untested. Consider getting a proof of concept up and running first, says Woolworths head

In the latest in a series of interviews with corporates on how startups can improve the way they do business with corporates (see links to others at the foot of this interview), Ventureburn spoke to Hillock on how tech entrepreneurs can up their chances of a successful pitch.

Ventureburn: What are some important tips for startups looking to approach Woolworths with their idea for an app or platform?

Liz Hillock: Woolworths is a values-based company and very customer focused, and we like to work with like-minded startups.

Try to outline how your product or idea will help our customers, the environment, or our staff. There are a lot of great ideas out there, however what’s more difficult is finding something that offers a true benefit to customers, that drives value, utility or repeat usage.

We’re also a large entity, so consider how to pitch ideas that offer easy integration or inter-operability with our enterprise systems. This is often a hurdle for corporates.

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

LH: Innovation isn’t the responsibility of one team at Woolworths, its embedded as a value across our entire business.

We’re in a unique position to have a strong food and fashion business with world-class product innovation and our team has a keen eye for talent. Additionally, the online team would be the go-to for ecommerce and app pitches. The marketing team is always interested in progressive digital pitches. Find the best match for your product, and contact us directly.

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

LH: Be prepared, know your numbers, and preferably wear Woolworths clothing :). However, it’s not just an idea or a solution that may interest us, but the potential of the person or the team that is involved. While preparation and professionalism is important, remember to be yourself.

VB: What are some common mistakes startups that want to sell tech products or services to the retailer make?

LH: It’s difficult for any corporate to invest in an idea or platform that is entirely untested. Consider getting a proof of concept up and running first. I’d also suggest tailoring your presentation in as much as possible to the person and company you’re pitching to.

Automated sales emails tend to get lost in the ether, and very lengthy pitches also lose their momentum. Be succinct, clear and relevant.

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

LH: We get a number of pitches every month, proposing anything from digital-influencer platforms and social media analytics, to app and content proposals.

VB: What kinds of (innovative) services and products is Woolworths looking for?

LH: We’re interested in products that make our customers lives easier, improve customer experience, are responsible and sustainable, and offer an exciting and relevant shopping experience — be that in-store or online.

The latest interview follows similar ones Ventureburn has had with Vodacom, Capitec, Old Mutual, and Barclays Africa. See below:

Read more: Wanna pitch to Vodacom? Don’t come with vague ideas, executive tells startups
Read more:
 Show your work, don’t just share ideas, Capitec innovation head tells startups
Read more: Startups, have an app or web platform you want to sell to Old Mutual?
Read more: Looking to sell that app or platform to Barclays Africa? Here’s what to consider

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