It takes a lot of resilience to open and run a successful business. In many markets it is difficult to find investors and money to invest back into your business. For Gwen Jimmere, CEO and founder of NATURALICIOUS, and Brian Williams, founder of Purchase Black, they found this to be true and decided to do something about it.
“As a culture we generally are not trained how to actively and successfully raise capital. Studies have shown women and minorities fund their businesses with personal debt far more than other demographics. We want to help change that story and help businesses grow,” says Jimmere.
If there’s anyone who can teach other how to win, it’s these two. Jimmere is the 2014 Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition winner. Williams is the 2014 winner of National Black MBA’s Innovation Whiteboard Challenge. Earlier this year, the two pitch competition winners teamed up to start Pitch Proof. “We are a company that teaches small business owners and entrepreneurs how to raise money without going into debt. We teach them how to successfully enter, prepare for, and ultimately win business pitch competitions, as well as how to attract equity investments,” Jimmere explains.
When someone signs up for Pitch Proof it starts with a 20 minute video call that the team dubs as a “pitch audit.” This is a coaching session where the duo helps you refine your pitch and craft it to exactly what judges are looking to hear. Jimmere and Williams also have a 12-week capstone course that allows you to learn step-by-step how to prepare for, present, and win pitch competitions and investment dollars. The 12-week course includes one full year of access to the partners. Students in the course are sent weekly video training, assignments, and guidance for both pitching for competitions and investment dollars.
“There is a big difference between the two and we train you to do both. When the 12-week course ends, we are available to students for an entire year to help them hone and solidify their pitch and tailor it to their intended audience,” says Jimmere. “Students also receive a comprehensive list of competitions throughout the country so they don’t have to go searching for where the money is. We hold their hand through the entire process.”
Beyond their aforementioned winnings, Both Jimmere and Williams have won tens of thousands of dollars in various pitch competitions and equity investment opportunities. As experts in this area, their advice is to first focus on becoming a finalist, then go for the gold and win.
“Your first goal is to be a finalist. This puts you on a platform that few others have access to. Being in a pitch competition as a finalist provides you the chance to talk to everyone in the room about your business. Considering hundreds of people often attend these competitions as spectators, you have a unique opportunity to speak to each and every person. You can’t possibly speak to hundreds of people at once via traditional networking,” Jimmere says.
“It’s not uncommon for the audience to consist of new customers, potential investors, or a retail partners,” she continues. “While you certainly want to win, even if you don’t end up being the ultimate victor, you can very easily walk away with a purchase order for hundreds of thousands of dollars, just by being a finalist and having the right people in the audience.”
With only a few months as a company under their belts, these pitch champions have the proof to show they truly train clients to become winners, such as Keon Davis of Smooth N Groove, among numerous others.
For more information visit www.pitchproof.com