How to Pitch 101
In the early days of starting up, the ability to pitch your business idea to potential investors and business partners is crucial.
As part of ANZ’s commitment to supporting small business and start-ups in Australia, ANZ recently sponsored BSchool’s Idea Nation, an evening of pitching, entrepreneurial insight and networking on Wednesday 25 May in Melbourne. Five finalists were selected to pitch to the Idea Nation panel and ANZ invested $20,000 in the winning business pitch.
Kate Gibson, ANZ’s General Manager of Small Business was on the Idea Nation panel of judges. She says that Haweya Ismail’s winning Mud & Musk pitch clearly stood out for all of the judges on the night.
“Haweya had the panel literally ‘leaning in’ to her business idea and offering their support,” says Kate. “For me, however, what really made the difference was that Haweya knew the skill sets she needed for the business to take off and she had a clear plan on how she would spend the $20,000 investment.”
“Handing over the money to Haweya on the night was a real pleasure. Like all of our small business bankers at ANZ, I really enjoy helping people take their idea and make it business ready.”
We chat to Haweya (pictured right), who started her business Mud & Musk in 2015.
Pictured left, Haweya Ismail (centre) with the Idea Nation panel of judges, including Kate Gibson, General Manager of Small Business (centre right) and Shark Tank judge Naomi Simson (centre left).
Mud & Musk is an online store making organic DIY skincare easy and accessible. Where did the idea come from?
About two years ago I saw a documentary about frankincense farming in Somalia. Frankincense is a resin that grows from a tree and traditionally we use it as an incense. It has grown in Somalia for hundreds and hundreds of years but the documentary explained how frankincense farming in Somalia was not very sustainable.
There are now companies who are growing frankincense sustainably and I thought it would be good to create a business that supports the industry. I knew it would very hard to get into the natural beauty market because there were a lot of products out there.
At the same time I wanted to do DIY skincare at home but I hadn’t done it because it was too difficult, expensive and time consuming. I saw those problems and merged the two into a new business idea.
Tell about the journey you’ve been on so far. What sort of challenges have you faced?
There’s been so much to learn! I got into the Curtin Accelerate Program this year which really helped me. It involved mentoring every week over ten weeks which meant I was able to ask lot of questions about starting a business and legalities. I was also given $5,000 to develop my first prototype.
Then I took my product to market at the Secrets in the Garden festival in Perth in March 2016. People loved the product and I completely sold out.
In preparation for the Idea Nation event you did a ‘How to Pitch’ session. What did you take away from the session?
One of the main things that the facilitator said was don’t make up answers if you don’t know the answers, be yourself and be natural. That really helped and I was comfortable being honest if I couldn’t answer every single question. It helped take the pressure off.
How did you think you went at the pitching event? Were you surprised that you won?
I was really surprised. Coming into the event, I was extremely nervous. I’m not the type of person to speak in front of a crowd. But I’m really passionate about the idea, and the passion took over my nervousness.
After my pitch I was happy that I got through it and was able to answer their questions. Actually I was happy whatever the outcome, win or lose. Sometimes when I get nervous I can’t communicate my idea, but I knew when I finished my pitch that I had communicated my idea well.
How will you use the 20k to invest in the growth of your business?
I’m going to get all the certifications I need, like organic certification, cosmos certification (for natural and organic cosmetics) and eco-certification (which assures consumers you’re not harming the environment).
I’m also getting stability testing done for my recipes and getting more prototypes ready. I want to expand the range so I have six DIY products that I’m able to sell.
What have you learned from your Idea Nation experience?
That I should always keep trying and never back down from an opportunity. If I can pitch to a room full of 400 people, I feel a lot more confident moving forward.
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