Pitch perfect: Best practices for acing your pitch for an EdTech Fellowship Program

Written by:
Kelly Fisher
Published on:
March 30, 2023

The Global Education Market is expected to reach $10 trillion by 2030, with developing regions such as Asia and Africa driving the expansion. Locally, South Africa, EdTech is predicted to grow over 16% annually between 2021-2026, according to GlobalData. Innovation in education is crucial to level the playing field for learners.

Our EdTech Fellowship Program, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, aims to support exceptional EdTech companies that improve educational outcomes in South Africa. The program has a rigorous selection process, including an in-person Selection Day where founders pitch to judges.

While many companies may have had pitching experience, the stakes are high, and competition is always fierce. In this blog post, Tsepo Ngwenyama, Programmes & Portfolio Head at Injini, shares some valuable tips for EdTech entrepreneurs on how to best prepare a standout pitch and secure a spot in the program.

Tailor your pitch according to your audience

To create a successful pitch, understanding your audience is crucial. Tailor your pitch to the specific needs and challenges of the stakeholders you’ll present to, the program itself, and its goals, values, and desired impact. Research these aspects beforehand to emphasise how your product or service aligns with the program's mission and can contribute to its success.

Describe the problem with a powerful story

You have only a few seconds to make a first impression. To capture your audience's attention, start with a compelling fact about the problem you're solving. Then, describe the problem with a simple story about a learner. This will make it more relatable and create an emotional connection to make your pitch memorable. EdTech is all about impact, so be sure you’re clearly demonstrating how your solution improves lives.

Make your value proposition and market opportunity clear

Your value proposition should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Explain how your product or service solves an education problem in South Africa, what makes it unique, and how it benefits the learner. Your value proposition should differentiate you from competitors and demonstrate your expertise in the education innovation sector. Ultimately, the goal is to effectively communicate the problem-solution fit, market opportunity, and your secret sauce for success.

Demonstrate traction and results

When vetting candidates for the Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship Program, we want to see that your business has made considerable progress in the market and has the potential to grow. Highlight key metrics relating to customer acquisition, learner engagement, revenue growth, and fundraising. This data can demonstrate the viability of your business and scalability.

Outline how the business will make money

A strong business model is essential for any startup, and particularly for EdTech startups operating in developing markets like South Africa. It is essential to outline how the company will generate revenue, create value for customers, and achieve sustainability. Ultimately, a well-designed business model is crucial for an EdTech startup to achieve its goals and make a positive impact in the education sector, However, we don’t expect you to have it all figured out. Be honest about what you’re still iterating and be clear about where you need some help.

Showcase your team and their capabilities

While the innovation in your EdTech product is crucial, many investors prioritise the team's capabilities and experience over the concept. According to a study by CB Insights, 14% of startup failures are attributed to the team's lack of experience or cohesion. Therefore, it is essential to showcase your team's expertise and how they complement each other.

Your team is critical to the success of your business, and we want to see that you have the right people in place to execute your vision. Highlight your team's expertise, relevant experience, and how their skills and backgrounds complement each other. This helps to build trust and confidence in your ability to achieve your goals.

Provide a clear roadmap and plan for growth

Demonstrate a clear growth plan and how program resources can help. Outline your roadmap for the year ahead, including major milestones, showing a clear understanding of your market and customer needs. Note any major risks to your company and how you are mitigating them.

Be authentic, passionate, and confident

Injini, like many accelerators, not only consider the business and the team behind it. We need to be certain that whoever is selected for the program is genuinely passionate about the problem they're trying to solve and is confident that they are best positioned to address it. Be authentic, speak from the heart, show that you are coachable, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for your product and the impact that you wish to have on education in the country or region.

Practice, practice, practice!

Once you've crafted your pitch to hit all the marks, it's essential to rehearse it until it becomes second nature. Practice in front of colleagues, mentors, or friends and ask for feedback. Refine your message based on their input, and rehearse until you're comfortable and confident with your delivery. If you’ve been given a time limit, make sure to time yourself as you practice and be very careful you’re not exceeding your slot as you may be cut off.. While you are rehearsing, you should think of questions you may be asked and prepare strong answers.

Crafting the perfect pitch for any accelerator program is a challenging but rewarding process. Following these tips, you can create a compelling and memorable pitch showcasing your value proposition, team, and growth potential. Remember to tailor your pitch to the program's specific needs, demonstrate traction and results, and be authentic, passionate, and confident. Then, practice until you're ready to tell your story and win the selection panel over.