30 Aug 2023
Except for the fortunate one per cent we’re all probably dreaming of making it big someday on our own—in business or in our careers. It’s an uphill battle. But let’s take comfort in knowing that it’s not impossible and take inspiration from those who did it with little or no money at all.
Jan Koum. His name may not be familiar to most of us, but he’s the co-founder of the messaging app WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19.3 billion in cash and stocks. Ironically, he applied to Facebook years earlier and was rejected.
Originally from Ukraine, Koum moved to the US with his mother and grandmother in 1992 after the fall of the USSR. He first worked as a cleaner at a grocery store. And later studied computer programming.
In 2009, Koum designed WhatsApp, and co-founder Brian Acton managed to bring in $250,000 in seed funding. Today, Koum’s estimated net worth as of 2022 is $13.8 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.
And who can forget Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who started Apple Computers in a garage in California? Jobs secured a bank loan of $250,000 to finance their project. Today, Apple is worth over $3 trillion, and its products are sought after worldwide.
So, if you have only a business idea but no money, don’t despair. You can still kick-start it with the right approach, plan, and attitude.
First things first, learn how to pitch for funding. It’s a critical step in securing financial support for your business or project. Here are some key steps to help you prepare an effective pitch: Do your research
Before you start pitching, it's important to research your target investors and understand what they're looking for. What types of businesses do they invest in? What are their investment criteria? Once you have a good understanding of your target investors, you can tailor your pitch to their interests.
Start by clearly defining your business idea or project. Articulate what problem you are solving, the target market, and how your solution is unique or innovative. Be concise and compelling in your description to capture the attention of potential investors. Highlight market opportunity
Demonstrate the market potential and opportunity for your idea. Provide data, market research, and industry insights to support your claims. Show that there is a sizable and growing market that could benefit from your product or service.
Investors often invest in the capabilities and expertise of the team behind the idea. Highlight the qualifications, experience, and track record of your team members. Emphasise their relevant skills and expertise that will contribute to the success of the venture.
Outline your business model and revenue-generation strategy. Explain how your business will make money and sustainably grow over time. Include details about pricing, distribution channels, and customer acquisition strategies.
If you have already made progress or achieved milestones, such as securing early customers, partnerships, or prototypes, highlight these achievements. This demonstrates traction and validates your idea. Investors are more likely to invest in a venture that has already gained some traction. Financial projections and funding requirements
Present realistic and well-researched financial projections. Include revenue projections, expenses, and an anticipated return on investment. Clearly state the funding amount you are seeking and how you plan to use the funds. Be prepared to explain and justify your funding requirements.
Acknowledge and address the potential risks and challenges associated with your venture. Investors appreciate entrepreneurs who have thoroughly considered and planned for potential obstacles. Present your risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans to demonstrate your preparedness.
Practise your pitch multiple times to ensure a smooth and confident delivery. Seek feedback from trusted advisors or mentors, and refine your pitch based on their input. Pay attention to time constraints and ensure your pitch is concise, engaging, and persuasive. Prepare visual aids
Create visually appealing and concise slides to support your pitch. Use graphics, charts, and key data points to reinforce your message visually. Avoid overcrowding slides with too much text and focus on impactful visuals.
Remember, your pitch depends not only on your project but also on how you deliver it. Be passionate, confident, and authentic, and the rest will fall into place.
Keep in mind that the UAE has a business-friendly environment that supports entrepreneurs, dreamers, and doers. Your seed funding could come from the government, public or private banks, financial institutions, or angel investors.
Your business ideas may be worth exploring. With technology at your fingertips and the right financial support, you can get it off the ground here in the UAE.