Comments (0) PIVOT East 2016

Standing Out From the Crowd: PIVOT East Selection Criteria


On November 15th, East Africa’s premier startups pitching competition and conference will take place in Nairobi.  The Call for applications is open and the deadline for submitting applications for the competition is on 8th September. Application  is open to all residents of the Eastern African countries of Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan, DRC, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda. Tech startups from the named  countries  are  eligible to participate. Application process is the beginning of the PIVOT East journey towards making it to the finals and hopefully winning in your category, meeting partners or investors. Upon the close of applications on the 8th September, panel of industry experts and investors with wide expertise in entrepreneurship, business development, software development and investor relations will assess startups at the various stages of selection. The selection is a funnel shaped filtration process starting with 50 semi-finalists, then 25 finalists and then 5 category winners at the finalists conference. One of the questions we are frequently asked is “What do the investors and panelists look for in the competition?”. Well, the criteria for the selection will be guided by these factors: (1) Problem and Customer Segments What customer pain are you solving? Is it a problem worth solving ? what specific customer segments are affected? What is the addressable market size? 2) The solution How are you solving the customer’s stated problem? what are the top features of your solution that specifically address the customer problem. What validates that the solution resonates with the customer’s problem (3) Revenue Streams Envisaged and Tested How you will make money by providing the solution given the current nature of the market place. Have you conducted experiments on any of the potential revenue streams? what were the outcomes? (4) The Technological Advantage Why is the technological solution and revenue model expected to work? What unique technological approaches or platforms have you considered or used? (5) Analysis of Competitive Landscape What are the existing alternatives to your solution? Do you know who your competitors / collaborators are? What differentiates you from the competition? what can be done through existing alternatives that your solution cannot do? What can your solution do that your competition cannot do? (6) Customer Acquisition & Channels Who are the early adopters, What customer segments are you prioritizing, what is your path to the customers. What channels are you using to reach the customer segments? How will you achieve customer activation? (first instance of gratifying experience) (7) Team Composition & Commitment Level Team composition is very important. Team composition and complementarity of skills, suitability of team structure to deliver on business goals, sense of commitment to the startup by team members  is vital. Show the skills & experience that the team members have? Demonstrate the team members commitment e.g do you have founders’ agreement, vesting schedules? (8) Market Traction and Secondary Achievements What has the business achieved so far? This could be one more of the following :- (List ordered in descending order of importance)

  • Number of paying customers,
  • Number of Gross monthly revenue
  • Growing / Sticky User-base
  • Number of Downloads / Pageviews / Requests,
  • Number  of active / repeat users
  • Customer discovery progress
  • Prototype iterations made,
  • MVP soliciting customer insights,
  • Customer interviews made
  • Intellectual Property Assets
  • Key partnerships or investments secured – content, distribution, marketing, funding etc
  • Awards, accolades, media mentions earned

(9) Projections for Milestones and Key Metrics How’s your roadmap or projections for growth within the next 12 months for, it could be in terms of: – Revenue, Users, Customer discovery / development, Key partnerships & Investments etc And most importantly what will it take to achieve desired milestones? That should help you create a powerful startup profile not just for the competition but also for you to refine your business model while make it more understandable to yourself and to investors. The same set of criteria items is applied at all stages of the PIVOT East competition. Other reminders:

  • Competition Applications submitted at
  • Minimum number of team members is two (2)
  • Tag startup entries in only one competition category

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