Media startups learn the art of selling ideas at DW boot camp | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.05.2019
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Media startups learn the art of selling ideas at DW boot camp

Selling a business idea is never easy, let alone getting an investor to fund your dream project. A bunch of media startups gathered in Germany's Bonn to get an insight on how to make the perfect pitch.

Nehul Jagdish Kumar from India knows all too well how it feels to be rejected. He has been struggling for over a year to convince investors to back his novel project — a website catering to the information needs of farmers.

India has been facing a growing agrarian crisis that has led to a rise in farmer suicides. Low prices for their produce, poor irrigation, absence of advanced technology and a lack of market knowledge are often cited as reasons for the plight of the farmers.

Yet the agriculture sector seldom finds space in the mainstream media, which is obsessed with politics, crime, cricket and cinema. Kumar hopes to change that with his online AgriTimes portal.

"The idea is to create a platform to provide news, information and eventually intelligence to farmers in the language they speak," Kumar told DW. "So that they can make informed decisions and eventually increase their incomes by not falling prey to middlemen."

Kumar's is one of the 12 startups from across the world taking part in a boot camp for media startups organized by DW as part of this year's Global Media Forum (GMF). Kumar, who doubles up as a freelance journalist for several publications to keep his project afloat, expects to learn a trick or two to attract "patient" investors and scale his 5-member firm.

"Investors want quick money. I am not here to make quick money for my investors because I am serving the farmers," Kumar said. "I am here at DW to learn how a media company works, to network and to learn how to ensure that investors see value in our company.

Fake news slayers

Rodriguez Katsuva is another participant in the boot camp. The 27-year-old is the co-founder of Congo Check — the first media outlet dedicated to fact-checking in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

"In Europe and in the US, fake news can lead to people losing some money but in my country people are literally dying due to fake news," he told DW. "We decided to fight news because we knew we could save lives. We want every Congolese to fight fake news."

Congo Check is run by 15 journalists, who volunteer during their free time to pursue their passion. Katsuva and his co-founders, Sammy Mupfuni and Fiston Mahamba, use their savings to fund their operations. Their hunt for an investor — preferably someone from outside Congo to ensure complete autonomy — is still on, even after more than a year in operation.

"We are journalists, we don't know how to pitch, how to talk to investors. We just know how to tell the truth," Katsuva told DW. "This is our opportunity to get recognition, a great opportunity to learn how to sell our project, to show to people how passionate we are."

The perfect pitch

The three-day training is aimed at giving the participants a broad overview of the startup ecosystem. They will receive tips on how to make the perfect pitch, how to raise funds and how to scale their businesses.

Five finalists will get an opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of a jury, comprising entrepreneurs, representatives from a venture capital firm and a consultancy. The winner will receive a tailor-made training from DW Academy and an opportunity to showcase his or her startup at the GMF.

"Their biggest takeaway will be networking," Paulo Fernandes, a startup consultant at Pricewaterhouse Coopers and a trainer at the startups boot camp, told DW. "All these startups are working in the same field. It will be a great opportunity to network with fellow founders."

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