Young entrepreneurs learn to pitch

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Contestants of Engen Pitch & Polish Bloemfontein owned the stage. From the left are Kedibone Tsiloane, Neo Lesako, Puseletso Soul, Malani Modise, Mpho Mosholi and presenter, Justin Cohen. PHOTO: NOMAQHAWE MTEBELE

Five contestants polished their pitching skills against the clock in front of judges and a full room of hopeful entrepreneurs last Saturday. The Engen Pitch & Polish hit the streets of Bloemfontein on a tour of the country to help business people to perfect their presentational skills for potential investors.

More than 300 people made their way to Engen Pitch & Polish at President Hotel on Saturday from all over the province. According to Marketing Manager of Raizcorp, Bronwyn Echardt, the reception by locals was great as the event keeps growing each year. “There are 387 people here today for the 10-year anniversary edition of Engen Pitch & Polish, which is absolutely fantastic. We have been overwhelmed by the response and it has been a fantastic event,” she said.

Contestants were made up of young and eager business people from Bloemfontein, Sasolburg, Thaba Nchu, and Soutpan. They varied in industry from eco-friendly bricks to salt manufacturing and smart-home installation. One contestant, Neo Lesako of Intelligent Electronics Systems Design, explained that the event has been a good learning platform. “I have learned a lot, especially in marketing this product to many people at once. We usually approach clients privately but now we know how to appeal to an audience,” said the 24-year-old electrical engineering graduate.

The Bloemfontein leg of the event was presented by best-selling author, international speaker and talk-show host, Justin Cohen. “As an entrepreneur it is very important to be able to communicate what you offer. You can have a great product, service or idea but if you do not know how to sell it and get people excited about it, you will not get what you want,” he explained.

“Engen Pitch & Polish gives people the tools to be able to effectively pitch their businesses, and that is something that we all need in South Africa’s economic landscape,” added Cohen.

“One reason that we took part was because of the exposure of the event and I learnt the value of public speaking. I am an introvert myself and I learnt to not be nervous when communicating in a crowd and that pitches need to be simple and to the point,” said another contestant, Mpho Mosholi. The winner of the event is Kedibone Tsiloane of Sasolburg, who will go on to compete at national level alongside contestants of other provinces.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele
nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za