PIVOT East usually has 25 finalists each each year, receiving training, coaching and mentorship and at the end battling for top positions in various categories at the pitching conference. The entrepreneurs get assistance to improve their business models and position their startups to 300-400 people including investors, industry players, government players and development partners.
In June 2012, the University of Nairobi study published a study on the outcomes of PIVOT East among finalists of the 2011 and 2012 editions.. The study indicated that visibility to the industry was the most valuable benefit among finalists (at 74%). The training and coaching sessions were rated second most valuable (at 68%) while mentorship provided was third at 62% of the study respondents
Launched in 2011, the competition has identified and supported 75 mobile startups as finalists of the competition. The m:lab has funded 15 of these startups through PIVOT East to the tune of US$120,000 thus far.
The funding awarded through the competition aside, over 15 (20%) of the 75 previous finalists have raised additional funding from angel investors, venture capital firms and impact funds after the competition worth over US$4.7 million. At least 5 of the finalists from last year’s competition have reported to be currently courting serious investors among them local angel investors and foreign venture capital firms.
PIVOT East asked its past finalists on their varied experiences and benefits of attending the training sesiions and pitching at the event. And here are some of them.
Ben Lyon, Founder of Kopokopo which was a finalist in 2011 said Pivot 25 was a great platform for drumming up awareness and support for Kopo Kopo.
Mikul Shah – CEO of Eatout Mobile which was a finalist in 2011 said PIVOT East gives one practice to pitch their business concept in front of an ideal audience. The training really helped. It was very high level. How to pitch was most important.
Laban Okune, the founder of Ma3Route which won the utilities category in 2013 said before getting into PIVOT finals, Ma3route was an just app by individual. Thanks to the trainings and sensitization during the competition, Ma3route is now being run as a serious high growth enterprise.
Michael Pedersen, CEO of Uhasibu which was a finalist in 2011 and won the Business / Enterprise Category said due to PIVOT East there was exposure that meant they had paying customers when they launched via their mailing list. Early adopters.
Waliaula Makokha the founder of Jooist from Kenya which was in the finals in 2013 in the entertainment category said visibility and networking opportunities that come with PIVOT East is key. Jooist acquired 50,000 new users as a result of the partnership they made during PIVOT East which was 90% of their traction last year.
Gideon Kyalo, Co-founder of iDaktari which was a finalist in 2013 said the mock pitching sessions with the PIVOT team was instrumental in raising their ambition. From the event they got to learn that opportunity is unprecedented; always come prepared.
Josephat Mandara the CEO of Dephics systems from Tanzania which whose TiMe product was a finalist in 2013 said they entered the competition with just an idea and it helped them to build a product … from the connections they got just by being finalists, a number of partnerships are underway and they are very promising.
Mwaura Kirore from Planet Rackus whose Ma3Racer game was the overall winner of the 2012 competition said winning PIVOT East drove visibility to them. They got featured greatly in global media like Bloomberg and Polygon (gaming magazine).
10. Kola Studios
Savannah Funded Kola Studios was a 2013 PIVOT East and is a mobile game development startup based in Kampala, Uganda. Kola Studios develops games for both Android and iPhone smartphones and are popularly known for their Matatu.
Alloys Mechack, CEO of Mshop Limited which was a finalist in 2011 and also won the mobile payments and commerce category said for them access to the m:lab incubation program was the biggest benefit of being at PIVOT. The exposure and validation to the industry was another benefit that came to them courtesy of being finalists at PIVOT.
– Kinyanjui Njonde, founder of GigWapi which did not make it to the finals received coaching and training as they were in the finalists waiting list in 2013 said anyone involved in a start up should definitely enter the Pivot East competition not only for the prize but also the coaching and training offered to the finalists.