The first TURN8 Investor Demo Day was held in January 2014. Nine of the 10 teams that had entered the four-month accelerator programme in autumn 2013 prepared to present their start-up ideas – now fledgling businesses – to investors and media.
One of the graduating start-ups, KinTrans, was founded by Mohamed Elwazer who had left Egypt to join the TURN8 Seed Accelerator in Dubai.
“I had less than 24 hours before the demo day and for KinTrans to pass the acceleration stage,” Elwazer recalls. “Less than 24 hours to show the hard work, passion and motivation of the past four months.”
Elwazer sought advice from Rabieh Al Khoder, who worked with the teams to help them improve their pitches (elevator speeches about the start-up, the market need, and the team).
His advice was very simple: “The core of any successful pitch is pitching from your heart, as what comes from heart will reach the heart.”
Elwazer knew he had to succinctly explain the pain point that KinTrans solves and the smart technology behind the advice. KinTrans translates sign language into audible words so hearing impaired individuals can communicate more easily.
“I finally realised what Rabieh was trying to say,” Elwazer says. “The pitch is not only words that you can speak or a show that you can do, but it is a real demonstration of the capabilities, resources and efforts of a start-up that you believe in, and when the investors see that they will understand your motivation, they will see your passion, hence, they will trust you and your team.”
The next day, Elwazer and his team felt a sense of accomplishment for making it as far as they had. As he explains: “I can’t describe how happy we were at this time, after all the challenges that we had faced. But as we used to say, there is no end to the challenges and one may appear at any time.”
He practised his pitch in front of the other teams, but in his estimation delivered one of his worst ever pitches. The stress was taking its toll. He went to sit alone before his pitch. Suddenly, inspiration struck.
“I remembered my father (God bless his soul) when he used to tell me “If you did your best, I don’t care about the results”. Then I thought, KinTrans as a team did their best so I don’t care about the results. I will go there on that stage and I will tell everyone that we did our best and that we believe in what we are doing. After that I had a total mind shift and I was totally relaxed.”
He returned to the stage and the words started to fly, until he reached the last words of his pitch ‘KinTrans – hands can talk’.
“I saw the people clapping their hands so hard and some of them stood up while they were clapping,” he says. “At this moment I said to myself, ‘well done, let the new journey begin’.”
After the pitches, the founders made themselves available to speak with attendees. Elwazer was approached by a woman who presented her card and spoke of a possible investment in KinTrans. As he took her card, the woman added, “My husband is hearing impaired. I think you are doing a great business and impact to the world.”
TURN8 is a seed accelerator program initiated by DP World. The programme is designed to encourage innovative entrepreneurship worldwide, starting with Dubai. www.turn8.co/
About the Author
Debra Jennings has more than 15 years of experience writing on a variety of topics. She is the Director of Storytelling for Innovation 360, a Dubai-based consultancy that manages the TURN8 program on behalf of DP World.
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