Etisalat’s Hello Business, “Pitch, Please!” proved to be the adrenaline-filled highlight of this year’s glittering SME Beyond Borders…

Nathan Gold and Esam Mahmoud with the Pitch Please winner

Nathan Gold and Esam Mahmoud with the Pitch Please winner

Imagine this: you get a chance to present your business idea to the CEO of the most powerful venture capital business in the country. You’ve got three minutes (not a second more) to give the business pitch of your life. Could you do it? This was the core premise of Hello Business, “Pitch, Please!’, an all-out pitch competition powered by Etisalat, where 12 business owners had the nail-biting task of giving their best pitch to a panel of five discerning judges – in front of a live audience! The 12 businesses had already survived a strict shortlisting process, submitting their business plans online on the SME Beyond Borders website. The successful candidates came from just about every business sector imaginable – from IT to contracting and legal to wellness consulting! No one sector generated the best applicants, but on paper, it was a dead heat between the 12 applicants. The question was, who will be No.1 at pitching when the chips were down?

For the contenders, a lot of nerves, a lot of choking and a lot of indecision followed – but the 12 competitors were ready for the big day, and their turn on a bare podium, where Moderator, Paul Godfrey, would call their names at random to give the apex pitch of their careers. Led by Nathan Gold – who was counting down the three-minute window for each competitor – the panel of Judges included:

  • Esam Mahmoud, Vice President, SMB Marketing, Etisalat
  • Luis Tomassoni, Global Head of Business Marketing, NBAD
  • Brad Wylie, Founder and Director, One Business Centre
  • Chris Ferguson, CEO, Credence International

Perhaps the most surprising factor was the level of intense crowd involvement, with an animated, vibrant audience leaping on every error and triumph of phrasing. After adjourning for an hour’s deliberation, the Judges made their decision, having assessed factors such as –

  • Whether a business concept could effectively be scaled-up
  • The importance of distinguishing between the best public speaker and the best business concept
  • The overall clarity of the pitch content

There was one clear winner – Samer Al-Nimr, Managing Director, deliver2mum, a business that had a great core concept, clear goals and a CEO who was cool, collected and convincing throughout. Congratulations on the pitch of the day – a structured and charming approach that was to be well-rewarded by a crystal trophy later in the evening, at the spectacular SME Stars of Business Awards 2016.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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