The World's Most Bizarre Pitch?

TikTok Unveils Extreme & Bizarre Plan To Fund Daring African Startups


September 11, 2020

How does pitching investors while hanging by the straps of a parachute and clinging to dear life 30,000 feet above sea level sound to you? Does it seem insane or fantastic? Well, the folks at TikTok are convinced it’s more brilliant than bizarre.

That’s why they are targeting entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East with what could pass for the most extreme pitch competition ever with USD 10 K up for grabs; not quite the going rate for human life, many would agree. But the plan has been set in motion anyway.

Despite its troubles in the United States where President Donald Trump is clearly not a fan, TikTok remains a shining star. It’s indeed the world’s fastest-growing social media platform of all time, amassing over 500 million users since launching outside China in 2017.

Especially popular among millennials, TikTok’s easy-to-use tools for making and sharing creative short-form videos have become a hit globally, it’s kind of the “coolest” social media platform at the moment.

However, the ByteDance-owned platform appears to be going up a whole different alley with its just-announced Pitch Up In The Sky challenge for African entrepreneurs who, apparently, must double as adrenaline junkies with a stomach for the extreme.

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In partnership with renowned global entrepreneurs and The Gritti Fund, the self-proclaimed first “purpose-driven and happiness-focused investment fund,” TikTok has unveiled an elevator pitch event that would see the selected finalists pitch their business model while skydiving in Dubai.

If it sounds crazy, that’s because it is. But it’s happening still. In an official statement, TikTok unveiled the extreme elevator pitch challenge, hinting at a dose of excitement and mystery.

“Pitch Up In The Sky is the ultimate elevator pitch for daring entrepreneurs who can overcome their fears and stay cool under pressure,” a part of the statement reads.

In the same vein, Boniswa Sidwaba, TikTok Content Operations Manager, Africa, described the initiative as one that aligns with TikTok’s mission to inspire creativity and bring joy to its users.

“Through this event, we aim to support our local community of budding entrepreneurs by providing them with the opportunity to creatively express their ideas with the possibility that those ideas may materialise,” she reckons.

The Pitch Up In The Sky challenge is open to founders of early-stage startups in Africa and the Middle East. Entrants can apply online and submit a crisp one-minute TikTok video pitch.

The one-minute TikTok video should be created with the goal of leaving a good impression on the panel of judges in mind. TikTok’s video editing tools would come in handy for this purpose and the hashtag, #PitchUpInTheSky, must accompany every entry.

After applications close on September 24, the entries will be judged and the top three finalists will have the “pointedly rare” chance of skydiving in Dubai while simultaneously dishing out their winning elevator pitches. Besides the USD 10 K investment funding that is up for grabs, selected entrants will also earn a one-year mentorship programme facilitated by The Gritti Fund.

The final event is scheduled for October 17 and is being promoted to be the most live-streamed startup pitch event in history. TikTok says entries will be judged by a panel of experts who will conduct personal interviews with applicants on their challenges that lead to their success.

TikTok also claims the panel of judges would include the Founding Executive of Netflix, Mitch Lowe, the first investor in Zoom, Bill Tai, and the inventor of Google Maps, Lars Rasmussen, among other big shots.

Both Facebook and Google are among global tech giants known to offer substantial financial and structural backing to startups on the African continent and beyond. But neither has ever resorted to unusual methods, like the one being employed by ByteDance’s TikTok.

Well, for one thing, this TikTok gimmick is certainly not boring and there may actually be a new world record to look forward to on October 17.

Featured Image Courtesy: Digiday

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