Today was an interesting. I was present at the 3rd edition of Seedstars Accra which happened on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Seedstars is an organization which helps promote, connect and invest in emerging market startups through its exclusive startup competition. Today, they were looking for the best pitch from nine startups in Ghana.
The winner of today’s event would be going getting a $50,000 investment and a chance to be at the Seedstars World Summit in Geneva, Switzerland to represent Ghana and Africa.
Today’s event saw nine (9) start up companies in Ghana doing a 5 min pitch to a panel of judges and answering questions from the panel of judges. Today’s judges were no lightweights. The judges today were Ethel Cofie from EDEL Consulting, Letchia Brown from Ghana Angel Investors, Ato Ulzen-Appiah from Ghana Think Foundation and Mansa Ayisi-Okyere from African Entrepreneurship Hub.
Chalkboard Education was the first startup to pitch to the judges. Their concept is based on e-learning through the use of a mobile app. What makes the app stand out is that it doesn’t require an internet connection. All your device needs is SMS and USSD.
Other startups who pitched included:
HQ Renewable: A Ghanaian start up which focuses on increasing the battery life of your car and batteries for your solar power.
Nubian Oryx: They focus on affordable housing using earth building material.
Cocktail Insights: A startup from MEST. They focus on social media analytics. Their tool is geared towards enabling eCommerce businesses and merchants maximize the returns of their social media marketing.
SynCommerce: Another startup from MEST, SynCommerce provides an effective and easy to use tool to manage and synchronize inventory and orders across multiple sales channels.
GoSun Stove: This was an interesting one. They develop clean, safe and Practical fuel-free cooking technology. They make interesting solutions. The stove pictured below is a solar grill. Just requiring the power of the sun, you can practically cook anything in that. They also have a product which is cheaper for the emerging markets. Very interesting concept!
TechAide: TechAide is an education startup who pitched a solution called Asanka. Asanka is a system that compiles and delivers rich content in a user friendly and easy to access format hosted on low cost, low powered durable device.
Landmapp: I actually learned something from the pitch from Landmapp. In the rural areas, chiefs are the most important factor when it comes to getting land. Landmapp is attempting to help people, especially farmers to own the land. By using mobile devices and GPS, they are helping farmers markup their land and get official documentation to own it. Interestingly enough, if the chiefs sign off on those documents, the lands then belong to that person. Lands Commission, from the impression I got from the pitch, is just helping to put icing on the cake. But what the farmers want is the chief’s authority and endorsement. Interesting startup. Good pitch. I was skeptical at first but as the pitch went on, I was persuaded.
MobiSave: The last startup to pitch was Mobisave. Their concept is a web and native mobile application that helps users to save and invest money while making regular calls from their devices. Unfortunately, from my perspective as well as the judges, this concept wasn’t really well thought out. In my opinion, this idea needs a little more research and a bit of reworking on the drawing board.
Obviously, the winners of the competition was Chalkboard Education. Their pitch of an e-learning solution which doesn’t require internet connection won over the judges and they were awarded with the top prize of $50K and a chance to represent Ghana at the Seedstars World Summit next year.
Second place went to Landmapp and third place went to TechAide.
Those were actually my top three startups as well but if I had the chance, I would have given the top prize to TechAide and their Asanka solution. Regardless, Chalkboard Education was still deserving of the top prize and congratulations to them on that win.
You have to give it to these startups for presenting their pitches to a panel of judges with a 5 min time period. The judges asked really good and probing questions about scalability, the target audience of the startups and the concepts behind their solutions. The judges didn’t hold anything back when they asked their questions and even gave blunt critiques. But most of the startups were very well prepped and were able to deliver. I take my hat off to them.
Hopefully, we get to more startup pitch competitions and I get to cover them in my spare time. If you’ve got an idea and want to start up something and maybe want to pitch your idea, why not give Seedstars a try. Even if you don’t win, you’ll get a chance to network and get exposure. I never heard of half of these startup companies but today I’m really familiar with their companies now.
Heck, maybe I might pitch an idea next year. You never know.