Pitching-a single action that can determine the future of an entrepreneur’s lifelong work. Mastering the art of pitching is the key to making your dream business idea come to life.
In a startup, pitching follows the Pareto’s Principle-80% of results come from 20% of efforts . A founder gets only a few minutes to present his/her ideas to investors. But the results can lead to a make or break situation. You get the funding and guidance needed to succeed or you don’t get anything at all.
Thus, pitching for your social business startup is extremely important. In this article, we will share 10 steps to master the art of pitching and get your startup to the place you want it to be.
But more importantly, telling a story will show to your audience about your passion and determination towards your project. It shows what the product or service you are building means to you and your team.
Creating a story for a social business is easier than other types of businesses. This is because social businesses are created out of an idea to change society for good. And this idea often comes from an experience a founder encounters. So create the human touch with your investors first by starting with a story.
Back in 2009, Professor Yunus started his commencement speech at Wharton School of Business in the following way:
When I finished school, got my PhD, I had no idea whether my life would someday be of any use to anyone else’s. But in the mid-seventies, I was back in newborn Bangladesh, and out of frustration with the terrible economic situation in Bangladesh I decided to see if I could make myself useful to one poor person a day in the village next door to the university campus where I was teaching.
When I went into the villages, I could not miss seeing the ruthlessness of moneylenders in the village. First I lent the money to replace the loan sharks. Then I went to the local bank to request them to lend money to the poor. They refused. After months of deadlock I persuaded them by offering myself as a guarantor. This is how microcredit was born in 1976.
See how Professor Yunus started with a story? You too can start with a story about how you came up with the business idea.
Create a one sentence soundbite
In news, you might see how tweets by celebrities, sportsmen, politicians or even CEOs can create a storm. This is because, the short phrases written by those people seem to be remembered by all and influence them as well.
Investors are like twitter users. They will encounter a lot of pitching by other companies as well on the same day you pitch. So probably they will forget about most of the companies.
As a social entrepreneur, you will be more worried as investors also would not like the idea of giving away the profits. Here, your business comes to the rescue. But what you think is a radical idea may not be the same for your investors. Have a sound bite that explains your business in one sentence to the investors.
For example: Shishir Water goes by the line, “MAKING WATER PART OF OUR LIFE”. This simple but effective soundbite helps investors to remember the purpose and motive of Shishir Water’s social business.
Create short and simple slides
Have you ever seen Steve Jobs giving presentations? In case you have not, I suggest you do. Though there might be a presentation file displayed on the back, everyone focused on what he had to say.
One of the mistakes, anyone of us giving presentations commit is to concentrate on slides more than the speech. A slide is important, no doubt. But it is not the most important thing.
However, you might need to use slides to complement what you say. You don’t need to be a doctorate in designing but a simple template will do the trick. Avoid making slides wordy and avoid making a lot of slides. Here you can follow a rule known as 10/20/30.
The 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint is simple: A pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.
How many of us have liked math classes when we were at school? Very few. That is because we take numbers as abstract signs bearing few context.
Investors are no different. So when you have to show finances or statistics, show them in a way that even a child can understand. Remember, Steve Jobs bringing out a Macbook from an envelope? He could have easily said the Macbook is 5cm thick. But instead, he showed to the audience how thin 5cm really is. By this way, everyone could understand the slickness of the Macbook.
Similarly, in your pitch visualize your finance and statistics. Use bars and charts to show numbers. In this way, investors can grasp an idea about the feasibility of your business.
Go through the seven points
You might have a lot of things to say about your social business or nothing at all. So how can you go through all about your business in a short amount of time? Follow these seven points and it will cover almost everything about your startup.
The Problem: What problem of society do you wish to eradicate through your business? Why is it a problem? The problem Shishir Water wants to solve is the lack of pure drinking water in Bangladesh.
The Solution: What does your business do to solve the problem? For example: Shishir Water decided to solve the water crisis problem in rural Bangladesh through “Clean drinking water in a jar for consumption at affordable price, produced in a energy efficient way.”
The Method: How does your business solve the problem? Here, show the process by which your product/service will solve the problem. Shishir Water uses UV LED lighting to purify surface water. It sets up community based plants through franchisees and delivers the jars to disadvantaged communities.
The Model: What is your business model? What is your production target? How are you managing the finances? The business model will help investors understand whether you have a feasible plan for your business. Shishir Water’s business model consisted of its production target (6000 litres per month), monthly revenue and franchisee fee.
The Competition: Who are your existing competitors? If there aren’t any in your particular field, choose from a related industry. During pitching, show how your business serves customers better than the competitors. Shishir Water’s main competitors are subsidised water production systems and existing bottled water companies. What sets Shishir Water apart is that it supplies clean water using advanced energy efficient technology with a smart monitoring system.
The Strategy: How are you going to reach your target customer? This is mainly about the marketing of your product/service. Shishir Water reaches vulnerable communities through raising awareness among people and through direct sales.
The Team: Who’s your team? Co-founders? Here, you can talk about your team and their experiences.
The Progress: How far have you progressed? Have you reached milestones? Here, you can show the number of customers reached and how people have benefitted from your business. Shishir Water has reached more than 2 thousand people and has created jobs for 8 people.
This by no means is a comprehensive list on how to master the art of pitching. However, differentiating yourself from a bunch of companies saying the same thing can really help make the difference. So next time you pitch for your company, please do follow these steps. And if it works (or it worked before), do mention it in the comments section below.
Photo Credit: Next Venture Corp (P1), Social Business Youth Alliance/ Prito Reza Productions (P2), Shishir Water (P3).
Social business is a cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, no personal gain is desired by the investors. The company must cover all costs and make profit, at the same time achieve the social objective, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water, introducing renewable energy, etc. in a business way.
The impact of the business on people or environment, rather the amount of profit made in a given period measures the success of social business. Sustainability of the company indicates that it is running as a business. The objective of the company is to achieve social goal/s.
Clarifications on Social Business
I am not opposed to making profit. Even social businesses are allowed to make profit with the condition that profit stays with the company; the owners will not take profit beyond the amount equivalent to investment. Social business is a new category of business. It does not stipulate the end of the existing type of profit-making business. It widens the market by giving a new option to consumers. It does not intend to monopolise the market and take the existing option away. It adds to the competition. It brings a new dimension to the business world, and a new feeling of social awareness among the business community. When we approach the concept of social business from the philanthropy side, it looks very convincing and logical. Why should everything in philanthropy be given away? If some of these goals can be achieved more efficiently and sustainably in a (social) business format, then why not take that route? After all our purpose is to achieve the social goal.
But when you approach it from the orthodox business side, it tends to look a bit out of tune. Why on earth give up profit? Why should anyone run a business without profit? I understand the surprise perfectly. Let me clarify: I am not asking any businessperson to give up any of their businesses. Nor am I asking them to convert some of their businesses into social business. The idea of “giving up” something creates this shock wave. I am not asking anybody to “give up” anything. All I am saying, if you are worrying about a social problem (while totally engaged in your routine business) I have a message for you, you can make a significant contribution in resolving the problem. If you put your mind seriously into it, you may even open the door to eliminate the problem globally. You can do both: conventional business and social business. It is all upto you to decide whether you want to do a such thing or not. Nobody will raise an accusing finger at you if you do no such thing. But you may feel happy if you do it. I am suggesting a way which may make you a happier person.
A Learning Process
It is a great learning process. You are doing things which you never did before. You are thinking in a way which you never did before. You are surprised to see you are enjoying it a lot. You start digging into your experiences to see what is relevant for the task. You check through the reservoir of technology that you are familiar with, start contacting the pool of experts that you have gotten to know in your business, to achieve your new goal. You start exploring a new world which was totally unknown to you. You realise that you are now wearing “social business glasses” on your eyes, you see things which you never saw before. You start sensing that your eyes were fitted with “profit-maximizing glasses” all along, while you thought these were your natural eyes in your economic world.
Now when you turn your eyes to your own profit-making businesses you start noticing things which you never noticed before. You bring new-gained experiences from your new business to your old businesses. Slowly you move towards becoming an multi-dimensional person, rather than a robot-like person. Some people ask me why can’t you run businesses with some profit and some social benefit “doing well by doing good”, as it is popularly described.
Of course, it can be done. I am never against it. But I am trying go to the ultimate point where you don’t make any profit for yourself at all. This is easy to identify, easy to handle in day to day decision making. When you mix profit and social benefit it gets complicated for the CEO. His thinking process gets clouded. He does not see clearly. More often this CEO will take decision in favour of profit, and exaggerate the social benefit. Owners will go along with it. Social business gives a clear unambiguous mandate to the management. There is no balancing act involved. If you can agree to take a “small” profit, you can also persuade yourself to take zero profit. Once you get there you get rid of all old ways of thinking. You prepare yourself to explore a new world, a new way of seeing things, and doing things in a different way. When you were in the world of a “small profit” you were still operating in the old world, with old ways of doing things, only restraining yourself here and there.
Another way to put the same question is: Why can’t you allow thee investors in social business to get a small fixed profit say, 1% dividend. My answer is the same. I may describe this situation by saying something like this: you are in a “no smoking” building, you are arguing “Why can’t I be allowed to take just one small puff ?” Answer is simple it destroys the attitude. In Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink until the after the sunset. Why not take a sip of water during the day? It destroys the strength of the mental commitment. You lose a lot for a small favour.
Social business is about making complete sacrifice of financial reward from business. It is about total delinking from the old framework of business. It is not about accommodation of new objectives within the existing framework. Unless this total delinking from personal financial gain can be established you’ll never discover the power of real social business. Some times you can set up a technically correct social business with the purpose of making profit through your other companies by selling products or services to this social business company. This will be a clear sabotage of the concept. There may be many other subtle ways by which one can weaken the concept and practice of social business. A genuine social business investor must make all efforts so that he does not walk into this trap unwittingly.
Capitalism has created poverty by focusing exclusively on profit. It built a fairy-tale of prosperity for all. This never happened. That’s why Europe decided to entrust the government to take care of poverty, unemployment and health. They were smart enough to figure out the emptiness of capitalism in solving these problems.
Author’s Summary on Creating a World Without Poverty
While free market capitalism is thriving globally, almost unopposed now, and bringing unprecedented prosperity to many, half of the world lives on two dollars a day or much less. Eradication of poverty remains the biggest challenge before the world. Colossal social problems and deprivations, mostly poverty-related and very unevenly distributed around the globe, continue to shame us everyday. Obviously the free market has failed much of the world. Many people assume that if free markets can’t solve social problems, then governments can. After all, the government is supposed to represent the interests of society as a whole. But decades and even centuries of experience has shown that while government must do its part to help alleviate our worst problems, it alone can not solve them.
Fortunately for us there is a keen desire among many to lend a hand through charity, for addressing the problems of poverty and other social problems. Charity is rooted in basic human concern for other humans. These days concern is usually expressed in the shape of non-profits and NGOs which may take various names and forms. Then there are aid organizations sponsored by rich governments’ bilateral and multilateral. Nonprofits and aid organizations are trying to keep the problems within some control. But charity is a form of trickle-down economics; if the trickle stops, so does help for the needy. On the other hand multilaterals like World Bank focus only on growth as the means of helping the poor, but can not see that the poor people can be actors themselves. There are serious questions about the type of growth that can help the poor. As another response to the global social problems some businesses are identifying themselves with the movement for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and are trying to do good to the people while conducting their business. But profit-making still remains their main goal, by definition. Though they like to talk about triple bottom lines of financial, social, and environmental benefits, ultimately only one bottom line calls the shot: financial profit.
I always believed that poverty can be totally conquered in our own lifetimes if the right approach is adopted. I based my belief on the inherent ability of the poor that can be unleashed once they are given the opportunity to help themselves. This I have proved in action through my three decades of experience with Grameen Bank. The concept of microcredit did not exist before I initiated Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which basically recognized that credit without collateral is a fundamental right of the poor. Our success with this in my own country has been widely replicated all over the world including in some of the richest countries; and the Nobel Peace Prize 2006 for Grameen Bank and myself is one recognition of that success. The story of Grameen Bank has been told in my earlier book: “Banker to the Poor”. In this new book I have described the further evolution of Grameen System. But more importantly I have introduced and elaborated here my broadened concept of social business, that the Grameen experience has led me into. Grameen allowed the poor to be an actor in the free market and to enjoy some of its fruits to try to come out of poverty. It is fundamentally a business model, pure and simple, but a social business. There can be other social businesses. They are just like any other business; but for social objectives and not for personal gain or dividend. I have tried to show in the book why social business can succeed in addressing social problems where other means mentioned above have failed. social business should not be confused with the term social enterprise which is used in a more encompassing sense and includes NGOs, personal initiatives, charities, etc., and may include social business too.
Social business introduces a totally revolutionary dimension to the free market economy. It does not interfere with the mechanism through which the normal Profit Making Business (PMB) works and prospers capitalization, expert business management, competitiveness etc., but investors here do not receive any dividend, though they can recover their investment if they want to, to reinvest in other social businesses or PMBs. The satisfaction gained in achieving the stated social goals are the only motive behind the investment, and the business will be evaluated according to that standard. Essentially it is a non-loss, non-dividend business aimed at social objectives education, health, environment, whatever is needed to address the problems faced by society. The profits here remain with the business and help it to grow further. The whole thing is based on the premise that entrepreneurs need not be motivated only by the profits they personally receive, but can also be motivated by social goals and may enjoy success there with equal satisfaction. The important thing is not to mix up a Social Business with a PMB. In fact the inclusion of Social businesses alongside PMBs in the business world will give the free market capitalism a larger, nobler and a more fulfilling purpose. Its advantages over straightforward charity are many efficiencies, continuous use with each turnover, competition with PMBs following the same rules, utilization of business innovations being some of the most important ones.
There can be two types of social business. Type One focuses on businesses dealing with social objectives only, as has just been mentioned. Type Two can take up any profitable business so long as it is owned by the poor and the disadvantaged, who can gain through receiving direct dividends or by some indirect benefits. There are various ways how the ownership can go to the poor. The two types can be mixed together in the same social business as has happened in the case of Grameen Bank. In a similar mixture of the two types, a socially beneficial rural toll road or bridge can be built by a company as a social business whose ownership will belong to the poor. On the other hand a huge project such as the Deep-Sea Mega Port in Bangladesh, which I have been advocating for, which will be used by several countries in the whole region and can potentially change the economic face of Bangladesh, can be built as a social business owned by the poor women of the country.
Is this an utopia? Will there be social businesses outside the realm of microcredit? Who will invest in such social businesses? I could answer these questions confidently in my new book, not only because I have faith in my idea and on the ability of the entrepreneurs to have social motives as well as profit making motives; but also because I am seeing this actually to happen at this very moment. I have devoted a good part of the book on the details of the first such social business we have started Grameen Danone Company which went into operation in early 2007. The idea of the company was born over just a casual lunch I had with Franck Riboud, the Chairman and CEO of Groupe Danone, a large French corporation a world leader in diary products. It took just that time for me to convince him that an investment in a social business is a worthwhile thing for Danone shareholders. Even though it will not give any personal dividend to them, he agreed to the proposition even before I fully explained it to him. It took somewhat more time to fix up the modalities, the product (a fortified sweet yogurt for the poor malnourished children of Bangladesh at a price they can afford), the financing, tax and regulatory issues, new yard sticks for evaluating business and many other such details. And I have devoted many pages of the book on these details to show how all these things can be taken care of. The yogurt “Shokti Doi” (Energy Yogurt) is already in the market. The Grameen System has invested in a second social business this time an Eye Hospital where the poor can have eye treatment and cataract operations at a very low cost and all others in the small town and the villages around will have an excellent medical facility where there was not any like that before. Social business is a new concept and its practice is just beginning. As my book reveals, it has to make a lot more exploration while gaining more experience. There are challenges to be faced and solutions to be developed. For example, we had to invent a totally innovative marketing system to keep the market fragmented so that the low cost “Shokti Doi” is reserved only for the poor children and does not disappear in the urban market for the well to do. I have also touched upon other issues such as how can the ownership of the Type Two social business be transferred to the poor, or how can the wonderful opportunities offered by IT be best deployed for social business.
One thing is very clear to me that with social business taking off, the world of free market capitalism will never be the same again, and it then will really be able to deliver a deathblow on global poverty. I am sure, many business wizards and successful business personalities will apply their abilities to this new challenge the challenge of creating a poverty-free world within a short time. At the moment we are seeing merely the line of horizon. Soon a good part of business genius, creativity and innovation of the world will devote itself to this new goal of social good. A whole new stock market with its new indices will thrive in the financial capitals of the world motivated by this new incentive. It will accelerate the process of poverty eradication to an unthinkable pace using the same market mechanism which accelerated the global prosperity for the rich in the first place.
Welcome to the new world of social business.
Muhammad Yunus 25 December 2007 Source: Yunus Centre
Social Business Day 2018 took place on 28-29th June in Bengaluru, India at Infosys Campus, Electronic City this year. This year’s theme was “A World of Three Zeroes: Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, Zero Net Carbon Emissions.” Every year, Social Business Day is organized by Yunus Centre and Yunus Social Business to discuss and celebrate the concept of social business. It brings together experts and enthusiasts from different fields to discuss and exchange their ideas for solving social problems. It is the biggest platform to learn, share and interact about social business, and every year, it hosts Social Business Day to further promote the ideas.
In the opening ceremony, Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus directed a speech where he emphasized on how people are becoming profit-driven robots with only profit in sight, “Profit is important but we need to put bifocal glasses with a near and a farsighted vision”. In the speech, he talked about the effects of technology, how it inspires and takes away jobs, and how it can work hand-in-hand with Social businesses to bring forth profits and work solving the global issues as intended. The other key speakers from the ceremony were Emmanuel Faber, global CEO, Danone, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, and Devi Prasad Shetty, managing director of Narayana Hridayalaya.
The two-day event was co-hosted with Yunus Social Business India, Infosys and INK. Over 1200 delegates from 42 countries had registered to participate in the event. And as the programs rolled, pressing issues of the society were put on focus whereas a number of plenary sessions and panels were scheduled and held during the two days.
Like every year, YY Goshti sent a delegation team to attend Social Business Day this time as well. Our founder, Shazeeb M Khairul Islam was also one of the speakers at the event. Social Business Day always provides YY Goshti to find new inspiration and ideas in their quest to build a better world and helps to sketch newer dreams and newer plans onwards that goal.
SBD 2018 included keynote speeches, plenary and panel sessions along with country forums and a magnificent immersive cultural program. It covered a wide variety of topics ranging from Agriculture, Health, Nutrition to harnessing creativity, Technology, Sports and Youth as the driving force behind social businesses. SBD is known for recognizing young dreamers and the interested and showing them a glimpse of the real world where people from around the world share their experience and ideals. The speakers included entrepreneurs, activists, academicians and journalists from the business and social business arena. The second day also included a country forum for countries and regions that have strong social business ecosystems.
Our Founder, Shazeeb M Khairul Islam spoke on “Building thriving ecosystems for Social Business and Youth”. He also spoke about Bangladesh’s opportunities, challenges and action plans to help build social businesses in real time and in the currently activated initiatives inside the country during the Country Forum. YY Goshti was also a part of the Social Business Academia Conference 2018. YY Goshti considers it as an excellent opportunity to build better connections and venture into new opportunities. YY Goshti puts extra effort upon these events to gather effective knowledge regarding what will come forth, and how to face upcoming challenges with maximum effort.
The two day long summit came to an end with the Nobel laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus providing the closing keynote speech. We hope to use the teachings of this summit to have a greater impact on our mission to build a world without poverty – and start from within the country and go global with our efforts.
After a rigorous screening process, 6 entrepreneurs were chosen to attend YY Bootcamp held from April 24-29, 2016. It is an intensive training program where selected participants received 60 hours of training and participated in exposure visits to see how existing businesses function. Moreover, the Bootcamp required participants to live on-site for a week and be subjected to a strict academic regime. They were housed at Krishibid Institute Complex, Khamarbari, Farmgate, Dhaka.
They received intensive training and mentoring facilitated by seasoned Social Business Experts, Academicians, and Entrepreneurs. They learned extensive courses on Social Business, Marketing, Branding, Product/Service Development and making their ventures financially sustainable. They also visited existing social businesses to get a better idea about how such businesses are run successfully. Most importantly, YY Goshti provided them the means to build a refined social business plan with all elements to turn their ideas into a successful business. They were also provided pitch coaching and assisted in building a professional pitch deck to present to investors.
YY Goshti started its journey through the official unveiling ceremony on 18 February 2016, held at EMK Center, attended by young entrepreneurs, students, development professionals, media and other stakeholders. During the launching ceremony Ms. Lamiya Morshed, Executive Director, Yunus Centre; Ms. Shaila Khan, Assistant Country Director, UNDP; Mr. M. K. Aaref, Director of EMK Center and Mr. Shazeeb M Khairul Islam, Founder of YY Goshti were the distinguished speakers. This whole program is sponsored by EMK Center, while supported by Social Business Youth Alliance Global, Prito Reza Productions and Socialyzen.
The event started with registration and seating arrangements from 5.30 pm. The event was hosted by Namista Tabassum, Director of YY Goshti. Mr. Shazeeb M. Khairul Islam, Founder of YY Goshti, gave a Welcome Speech and also talked about how he came across the idea for this new project.The second segment was a short presentation by Mr. Wahid Hossain, YY Goshti’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He described the various aspects, program modules and aim of YY Goshti.
The presentation was followed by a Panel Discussion among the event’s distinguished speakers, to give an external opinion about the possible impacts of YY Goshti and its future endeavours. Mr. M. K. Aaref provided invaluable insight into the creativity of Youth and their importance in playing a more active role to bring about a wave of change in our society.
Ms. Shaila Khan talked about sustainability and inclusive growth, providing some anecdotes of her years of experience with UNDP. She stressed on the fact of the current global perspective, and how social business is a strong contender in becoming a big solution to many problems.
Ms. Lamiya Morshed talked about the impacts of social business and Yunus Centre’s vision and how YY Goshti’s activities are based on similar principles. The very informative panel discussion was followed by the Speakers answering a few questions from the audience.
Lastly, the event ended with an immensely motivational video message from Professor Muhammad Yunus, telling participants about the valuable impact social business and wishing YY Goshti luck. The event ended with a cake cutting ceremony, and was followed by a networking session among attendees complete with refreshments.