$100k! I couldn’t believe I saw this with my own two eyes. Looked like a scene from a movie on that rainy afternoon in Nairobi.
The event was held on Friday, 26th Jan, 2018 from 2pm.
In today’s exchange rate (at the time of writing this), $100k is approximately KSh. 10 million. So these two young people pitched their way to millions! They really worked hard for it and deserved it all. I’ll tell you all about this auspicious event right here.
The other 10 finalists didn’t go home empty handed. They each got $10k cheques.
Here are some quick details…
There were two events in one. Namely:
- #GoGettaz Competition Finals: This was Africa’s biggest entrepreneurship competition. 12 finalists from different African countries were pitching their ventures in front of judges for 3 minutes.
- Tech & Enterpreneurship Town Hall: Here, panelists discussed about emerging and “disruptive” technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and blockchain. The focus was on how they can be used to end poverty and enhance entrepreneurship in Africa.
- One male and one female winner each got $100k USD from Strive Masiyiwa
- Equity Bank gave each a credit facility worth $100k
- 2 week mentorship at Kwesé headquarters in South Africa
- The other 10 finalists got $10,000 USD
Panelists of the Tech & Entrepreneurship Town Hall
- James Mwangi – The CEO of Equity Bank
- Strive Masiyiwa – The Zimbabwean billionaire, mentor and philanthropist who founded the Econet Group that owns companies like Kwesé and Liquid Telecom among others.
- Shivani Siroya – Founder and CEO of Tala (a social enterprise that helps SMEs get access to loans)
- Kamal Bhattacharya – Chief Innovation Officer of Safaricom
Another notable person was Melinda Gates. Yes, that’s Bill Gates’ wife. She’s a philanthropist and the co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She didn’t attend the Friday event but had been in Nairobi on a related Thursday event.
Strive and Melinda launched Pathways for Prosperity, a commission that aims to turn technological changes into opportunities for inclusive development.
So, why would I go to such an event? And how does it matter to you?
I’m focusing on 3 key things; building entrepreneurs, job creators and philanthropists.
I’m working towards that by learning BIG things and sharing them all with you. My prayer is that at least one of us reading this will one day become a billionaire (hopefully in 2-3 years)!
What better ways can you learn how to be a billionaire other than learning from actual billionaires? If you don’t follow the billionaire mentor Strive Masiyiwa on Facebook, go ahead and click here to like his page. Read as much from him as possible.
He’s the only dollar billionaire (estimated net worth $1.7B) who personally mentors others on social media frequently.
Why this matters to you is this:
We’re not only to get freelancing clients and make money online. Some of you have been doing so for 7 years already! As stated above, we’re focusing on becoming entrepreneurs (with big online businesses), job creators and philanthropists.
We learnt so much about pitching (seeing how the contestants pitched), entrepreneurship and innovation.
Let’s move straight to how the event went down. We’ll start with #GoGettaz.
#GoGettaz: Here’s exactly how the 2 young individuals won the $100k
Strive Masiyiwa had announced about the #GoGettaz entrepreneurship competition in Facebook back in 2017. There were over 4,800 entries. Each entrepreneur was to pitch about their ventures and people would vote for them. 50 million people voted. Eventually, 12 made it to the finals – 6 ladies and 6 gentlemen.
On this auspicious occassion, the 12 were pitching their ventures in front of a team of judges. Pitches lasted only 3 minutes. After each pitch, the judges asked the contestant a few questions before they stepped off the stage.
The judges included:
- Ndidi Nwuneli from Nigeria – Founder of LEAPAfrica
- Clive Msipha from Zimbabwe – Founding CEO of Untu Capital
- Juliana Rotich from Kenya – Founder of BRCK, co-founder of Ushahidi, and Senior Advisor at Africa Tech Ventures
Such an awesome team, right?
The pitches were amazing
I enjoyed listening to absolutely all the 12 pitches. These were young men and women who were sold out to using technology to make lives better for other Africans. I’m convinced that some of these ventures may actually bloom into billion dollar companies.
Larry Madowo (formerly of NTV Kenya and now in BBC) and Terryanne Chebet (journalist, emcee and founder/CEO of Keyara Organics) were amazing co-hosts.
I looked at the pitches in two ways:
- As a freelancer: I learnt a lot about pitching. There are different vital things that make a perfect pitch.
- As a business person: Big businesses start from big ideas. There are ideas that you’d have listened to and felt like funding them immediately if you had the cash.
9 things I learnt from the #GoGettaz pitches
- Be confident: These contestants were from different countries and some actually had very strong accents. However, that did not stop them from pitching and standing firm for what they believed in.
- Get the data right: Numbers make pitches look good. I’ve gone out there and listened to many other pitches and sales presentations from many successful people. Those that had useful numbers kept standing out. Why? Because data influences key decisions.
- Learn how consumers behave: Not all good ideas go far. Not all good products sell. Understanding consumer behaviour will help you to know exactly why people choose certain products and services over others.
- Let your presentation match your personality: Some contestants were full of energy and lit up the place, making you feel like jumping off your seat in excitement. Some were so cool that their humility would just melt your heart. Some had a great sense of humor and kept us in stitches. Each used their natural personality to influence their presentation.
- Passion pushes people: Funny thing, some of us predicted the winners (or at least one winner) before they were announced. You could see, feel and taste their passion as they spoke.
- There is power in demonstration: There’s a huge difference between telling people you’re great and actually showing them you’re great. I strongly believe that Peter Wachira’s demonstration was one of the things that made him win.
- Do what it takes to win (biggest lesson): Both winners had moving testimonies on how they won. Peter grew up in Nairobi’s slums. He had pitched and lost before. He didn’t give up. Ezinne Uko did not have funds for her product and once had to work in a construction firm to raise money. They both stayed up late and woke up at 4am to make sure their pitches were right. Success doesn’t come by chance. You have to do what it takes to succeed.
- Good products + Good marketing = Pure Gold: There’s no question about that. Your product has to be good. Otherwise, you won’t go far regardless of your sales or persuasion tactics.
- Your pitch should be so good they can’t ignore: As stated above, some of us had already figured out probable winners even before they were announced. Why? Because their pitches were simply amazing!
The winners: Peter Wachira from Kenya and Ezinne Uko from Nigeria
The pitches were really great but there had to be just two winners, one lady and one gentleman. These spots went to Ezinne Uko (Nigeria) and Peter Wachira (Kenya).
Ezinne Uko was the first winner to be announced. She is the CEO of Contrail Stores Limited in Nigeria.
She had an amazing solution called the iMonitorApp.
This is a comprehensive end to end business management app. It takes away the hustle of shop owners having to use a pen and paper to manage their shops. They simply take stock inventory in real time using the app, without fear of losing their notebooks or vital data. This saves them lots of time and money.
With this app, business owners can easily manage different retail stores at the same time.
The second winner to be announced was Peter Wachira.
In fact, before the announcement, Strive Masiyiwa asked the audience to guess who the male winner would be and the audience said “Peter!”. And Peter it was.
Peter is the founder of A Remote Youth Venture (ARYV). He manufactures water purifiers made out of local materials like clay and sawdust. He claimed that the low tech, low-cost filters eliminate approximately 99.88 of all waterborne disease agents. He believes this will save 3,000 lives yearly.
His pitch was powerfully delivered, showing exactly how they will be saving lives from disease and death.
My interview with the winners
I was blessed to get a quick interview with the winners. I wanted you to read from them, in their own words. Check out the interview below:
Walter: Heeey! $100,000! How did you feel when you got this? Tell us what was going through your mind.
Ezinne: I was shocked for the most part because even though I believed I had a good pitch and a great product, there were other great pitches. However winning feels like I will finally build my business towards sustainability.
Peter: It was the best feeling ever. It was the biggest achievement ever. The feeling cannot be described because at that moment everything I knew made sense. I could already feel the success of my business. It was an incredible feeling actually so in my mind, I was already formulating the next steps to turn this business into a reality. It was an incredible feeling, I felt very empowered
Walter: What made you take the first step? Feel free to talk about how you went about it.
Ezinne: The night I entered the competition, I had just finished praying at 2am. I checked Facebook and saw the competition on Mr. Strive’s page and proceeded to enter. I was awake till about 4 trying to complete the first stage.
Peter: It was actually passion, drive and the desire to do better, not just for myself but for the society as well. I’ve been pitching for a few years now and for me it came a bit naturally. But this competition was different, I put everything in it. I did a lot of research and made sure all my facts were straight, this was a golden opportunity, I couldn’t let it pass. I gave it my best and prayed over it a lot.
Walter: What’s the biggest struggle you were facing before you joined this competition?
Ezinne: The biggest problem for my business before the competition was funding as I had invested all my personal savings into building the first iMonitorApp, marketing it and understanding user behavior to enable us to improve on our subsequent versions. Funny how a week before I came to Kenya, I had met with a seed investor who gave me 2 options of investing in my business. I had to either sell over the business to him or give him 51% of the business. Ludicrous.
Peter: For many start up entrepreneurs, we face the same problem. We have the product but we cannot finance it, hence we cannot get it out to the market. So funding for me was my biggest challenge. We couldn’t meet the demand from the market hence we lost most of our customers.
Walter: Your product is phenomenal! What’s your vision on the impact it will have? You can also tell us a bit about the product.
Ezinne: The vision with iMonitorApp is to drive connectiveness and efficiency in the African Market space using simple and available tools. iMonitorApp is a mobile inventory and business management app that allows business owners manage their businesses on the go and from any location. iMonitorApp is on the Google Play Store and we are currently working on our second version soon to be released.
Peter: The product is a simple affordable water purifier that will give a family clean water for three years, it has little to no maintenance costs, its mainly made from clay and saw dust, so basically its dirty water in, clean water out. We intend to reach thousands of homes in the next 3 years, which will mean that thousands of lives will be saved. We want to launch the product on a national level. We want to work with women groups and county governments to help distribute our product further. So I can say that people should expect this product in the market very soon.
Walter: What’s your message to the people out there who are afraid to pitch?
Ezinne: To anyone afraid to pitch, you know your product better than anyone else and telling a compelling story of your product and it’s benefits will drive the passion you have for it through to your audience. Just tell your product’s story.
Peter: Pitching is very easy so long as you know and understand your business. Hard work is a determiner. It might not come the first time, but with consistency it will come. Pitching won’t cost you any money. It’s very easy as long as you have the drive and passion for what you’re doing and why you need support.
As an entrepreneur you must be willing to take the highway. To bear the risks and know how to go about it. Nothing will be handed to you easy. Everything takes time so patience must be practised. You must be willing to feel the pain and get your hands dirty. There are no shortcuts and if you think you’ve found one, rest assured it will haunt you. Entrepreneurship is a journey, a long journey, but with passion you’ll arrive to your destination.
Walter: Wow! Truly inspiring. All the best and may God bless your ventures.
Tech & Entrepreneurship Town Hall
After the #GoGettaz pitches, we got to listen to the amazing panelists as they spoke about how technology can be used to build a better future and end poverty. The moderator here was Lorna Irungu, the CEO of Gina Din Group.
The conversation was amazing. I love listening to big minds. Strive (Founder, Econet Group), James (CEO, Equity Bank), Kamal (CIO, Safaricom) and Shivani (founder/CEO, Tala) all had phenomenal pointers.
Apart from James Mwangi, the rest are all members of Pathways for Prosperity. Strive is the co-chair and the rest are commissioners. Other Pathways co-chairs not present on this panel include Melinda Gates (Bill Gates’ wife and co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and Sri Mulyani Indrawati (Minister of Finance, Indonesia).
I’m giving you the entire transcript of the event’s video at the end of this post. However…
Below are some highlights of what I learnt from the greats
- Poverty around the world has fallen by over 50% in the last 25 years. Sadly, though, poverty in Africa has not gone down.
- Players in all emerging economies are experimenting with new ways of driving financial inclusion through great innovations like M-Pesa and mobile money in general.
- Technology is playing a significant role in poverty reduction e.g. the kind of disruption witnessed in the banking sector, communication sector and the kinds of devices being built.
- Downside of technology is that it’s building lots of wealth, but that wealth is concentrated on a few individuals, especially platform owners.
- We need to think of what will happen to labor as we move to the robotic age. Before, wealth was created by owners of labor, owners of capital and landlords. In future, it may go to platform owners, thus labor may no longer be compensated.
- Entrepreneurs need to work in conditions, not against conditions. Same way as soldiers can’t wake up and say they won’t fight because it’s raining. This means entrepreneurs need to find a way to tackle situations of bad governance, by engaging with policy makers where they can. Some don’t budge but many listen.
- Technology destroys and rebuilds. An example is the way people at the end of the 19th century were worried about where the 26 million horses would go now that the motor car seemed to be the next preferred mode of transport.
- Teach young children that they’ll be learning throughout their lives.
- Some areas that we need technology to help Africa the most include food security, health and wealth creation.
- Conversational technologies like WhatsApp and Messenger will continue making a huge difference.
- Business shouldn’t be indigenous. Business is business, no matter where the founder comes from, as long as it benefits everyone.
- To be a successful entrepreneur, start with what’s in your hand, because what’s in your hand is enough. Many big businesses were started by people who first used the resources they had.
My personal experience at the event
So, how was it like being part of such an amazing audience?
I looooved it!
I liked how the whole place was arranged — from the seats to the lighting to the sound. They also came bearing gifts. So we all got ourselves black, Kwesé-branded t-shirts. There were huge screens in-front that magnified all that was happening on stage.
It was a free event, but we left with knowledge worth a fortune. Some of the great things I loved about the entire event included:
Networking opportunities – I made a quiet friend who is one of the most successful Kenyan freelance writers
“Walter!” I heard someone say. I wasn’t expecting anyone to recognize me over there. I was an early bird, I got there almost an hour before time. I thought I’d just quietly get in, listen and go back home. So, it was interesting to know someone somehow recognized me.
“Walter Akolo,” he said again. “Hi, I’m Sam. I see you online and follow your blog. I’m part of your groups and mailing list. I really love the work you’re doing, Walter.”
Sam is a great guy. He’s a freelance writer, just like many of us in this platform. He’s probably one of the most successful Kenyan writers. I came to learn that he owns his house and parcels of land.
We sat together and it was quite an experience discussing the happenings with him all through. He’s an incredible analyst, and was able to accurately predict the winners. “I think two of these four will win…,” He said. And indeed two of the four he’d mentioned actually won!
As I stepped out, I heard another “Walter!”. Shocked again, I met a nice guy called Kevin and his friend. Kevin was so sure I’d attend the workshop. He knew just how much I respected Strive Masiyiwa, and he was 100% sure I couldn’t miss. He’s also a freelancer and a follower of this blog.
When the show was over, as I was requesting an Uber, Sam asked where I was going, so that he could give me a lift. So kind of him. I quickly cancelled the Uber and went with him. I was incredibly joyful to see that he actually owned a Toyota Vanguard! I’m always happy to see successful freelancers.
He dropped me off as we had interesting, visionary conversations.
Meeting my mentor
I have many mentors, many of them spiritual… in fact biblical. But when it comes to business, Strive Masiyiwa is one of my biggest mentors. He writes amazing posts on Facebook that encourage, inspire and teach entrepreneurs different aspects of growing a big business. Since I started following him, I never miss his posts.
I remember when he walked in and we all shouted with joy. He has made such a huge difference in this continent. He inspires so many. It’s amazing to see how simple but powerful words on Facebook posts can transform people.
I didn’t get to talk to him personally, but that’s besides the point. I was there for the top-notch, entrepreneurial lessons that I got. I left the event a happy man.
Remember, I hope to one day become a huge African entrepreneur, mentor and philanthropist as well. To actually touch the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans and help them get out of poverty and solve their issues. Yes, that may one day make me a billionaire as well, God willing.
But just like any other billionaire will tell you, it’s not about the money, it usually starts with a burning desire to make a difference and serve a higher purpose.
If I was to pitch…
Those who’ve been here for a while know that I learn from most of my experiences. I learnt a lot here from everything; the setup, the discipline of the moderators and panelists, the pitches, the acceptance speeches by the winners, the expert conversations by the panelists, my friends Kevin and Sam…name it.
If I was to pitch, I believe my pitch would be in line with massive poverty eradication using the online space. Call me a dreamer, but I would pitch for even a billion dollars to massively help Africans learn how to build online enterprises that hire other Africans.
I’d encourage many to be heavy philanthropists as well. I’d also flesh out some of my huge plans to create businesses to the scale of Google, Facebook and Amazon. I’d build strategic learning and mentorship institutes that instead of using regular lecturers, we’d get actual mentors who are successful in a field to come and teach their trainees.
Therefore, instead of lecturers, we’d have apprenticeship programs. And instead of classrooms, we’d have something else. Hehe, hey! I can’t give you all my plans, right?
Just like Strive said, what’s in our hands is enough. And that’s how with zero capital, I’ve been able to train over 2,000 online workers in my paid courses and over 60,000 in my free stuff! I’ve been blessed to train some of the most successful and highest earning writers in the region (not just in Kenya).
This has gotten so many out of poverty. I hate poverty and would love to help kick it out of Africa, for good. Online work and online business got me out of the brink of poverty. I strongly believe that some day I will be able to scale and help out millions of Africans to do the same.
I want to help you succeed, so I’ve created a free gift for you!
You’ve just read the most detailed account about the #GoGettaz finals and the Tech & Entrepreneurship Town Hall held in 26th Jan, 2018. You must be wondering, what next?
Well, here’s what’s next:
We’ve prepared a free gift — a transcript of the entire event. Download it and read it out as you watch the event video.
It took us some time and hard work to put that transcript together, so read it seriously, focusing on the pitches and the town hall conversations.
Go out there and start something that matters. Facebook started in a dorm room. HP started in a garage. Peter Wachira, one of the #GoGetter winners, grew up in a slum. Ezinne, the other winner, didn’t have money to fund her business and had to take up a job for 8 months. Strive Masiyiwa started with just $75.
Many other huge companies just started as huge ideas. Believe in yourself and get started from somewhere. Have a winning mindset and take massive action.
Whenever you’re discouraged, remember that event that happened on 26th January, 2018. Remember the 2 winners also had challenges just like you. Remember they took massive action and even failed at times. And remember that they persisted and eventually walked away with cheques worth $100k. You can do it, too. Yes. You. Can.