Last year during Global Entrepreneurship Week we attended a “Pitch Night” in Harare hosted by Emerging Ideas, a business accelerator program co-founded by Tommy Deuschle and Tim Bickers. The event was one of the few hosted locally as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week celebrations and initially we thought it would be a once off event but it appears more will be was held each month going forward.
Pitch Night is one of the many business accelerator programs being spearheaded by Emerging Ideas. We caught up with co-founder Tommy Deuschle and here’s what he had to say about Emerging Ideas.
We are a group of energetic young entrepreneurs and business men from Southern Africa and the USA who’ve failed and succeeded on global start-up projects. We get our hands dirty with every idea and company that we invest in or become part of. Emerging Ideas uses local methods and implements international standards to execute good ideas and cultivate opportunities. Our goal is to build 100 ideas into active companies and brands that positively impact half a million people by 2025. Currently we work in southern Africa and the USA with projects specifically in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia as well as in the USA.
1. We understand that Emerging Ideas is a business accelerator and incubator, what kind of businesses do you support.
We are a business accelerator but we also offer springboard consultancy packages when equity is not on the table or we can’t take on a new company. Emerging ideas invests relationships and not business plans. What matters most is the twinkle in an entrepreneur’s eye that says they’re committed to their own success, that they’re a team player and that it’s more then just about money. This encompasses people who have growing start-ups, SME’s with growth potential and even raw ideas that have a rockstar entrepreneur behind them. We’ve seen great business plans but no twinkle. Sometimes there’s even a look that says “I’ll screw you”. i think we’ve all been there.
2. How many businesses are on your program to date? How have you helped these or what is the nature of your involvement. Do you provide capital, technical assistance, etc? Any Tech oriented businesses in your program?
We only take on a set number of businesses per year as partners. We have 5 companies that we’ve grown into self-sustaining entities. In tech there is Big Africa (in development) and Cmedia (Digital/Video stories). In non-tech there is Cotrade Industries, The Basement and Blue Nile water project. These companies have access to trade finance, training, global relationships, and our instigation team that gets things moving and keeps them moving. Momentum is one of the hardest things for a lonely young entrepreneur to ignite. Taking something from concept to market is a change from just having a white paper on how to do it. Aside from being direct partners, we work with different organizations and offer “Pitch Consulting, Growth Plan Action Maps, and a Think Tank.”
3. How have you modeled Emerging Ideas? Is it for profit or you are a non-profit like other incubators we have locally?
We are a full-profit company that has a small fund, an accelerator and a pitch platform. We get returns through equity exits, profit share and consultancy packages. That being said we’re more concerned with creating success stories. Every new project we take on has some sort of give back—we call that Philanthropic Investment and you can read more about it here—using startups to drive sustainable philanthropic impact. Speaking of other incubators and stemming from our startup pitch nights, we’re looking forward at collaborating and creating an Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Harare in the coming year.
4. What should prospective entrepreneurs know about the Pitch Night. Whats at stake? Are winners automatically drafted into the Emerging Ideas program?
Pitch Night! Picture this “3 well-prepped entrepreneurs present their ideas, start-ups, or growing companies in under 6 minutes. Then the audience interacts through an engaging Q&A discussion—we call it a community springboard. This community springboard is loaded with honest feedback, constructive questions and a “relationship arsenal” for the pitchers. Anyone can submit their pitch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are holding this event at the new and modern youth hall we built called The Basement. Seats are limited, but it is FREE to attend, so please RSVP quickly here.