Uncategorized · November 28, 2022

Pitch Borneo 2022

November 27th, 2022 at Sky Hotel, Kota Kinabalu.

Once again, I’ve been invited to be a judge at the State finals of the Pitch Borneo program. Pitch Borneo is a wholly Sabah created and organised business idea pitching contest.

In the 12 years since it started, 1300 business ideas have been pitched and 102 winners have been funded. Tonight will see another 10 ideas receive funding.

However before that happens, it’s going to be a long day of judging for me and my fellow panel of judges.

Arriving at Sky Hotel around 9 am, I am happy to meet my fellow judges. Puan Freida, previously of KSTI, Mat Mahzrie of Syncsoft and Mary Jim of Mj by Mus. I’ve judged with them before and it’s much easier to do our jobs when the panel is generally in sync.

We are informed by Bapa SATA, Saverinus Kitingan, that there will be 25 ideas to sift through today.

After the introductions and last minute preparations from the SATA crew, we saw ready to hear our first idea, Coconut oil cooking oil.

Although the product is not new. The business model and community impact is what’s being pitched here. Pitcher mentions that hes got customers interested in being investors and that sets us judges down a different path than what the entrepreneur intended.

A lunch break and 24 pitches later, our consensus is that many of the pitches lacked a compelling story or X Factor. Some pitches that did well in the zone levels, fell flat at the finals.

Overconfidence perhaps?

Upon being sequestered for judging deliberation, the first thing I reminded our panel of was that we are to judge solely based on today’s pitch and slides. Zone level pitches and information can be referred to but marks and judging are to be awarded only on today’s performance.

Finding the deserving 10 out of the 25 “could be better” pitches took a while and a lot of back and forth, justification by each individual judges and also referring to the objective and intentions of Pitch Borneo including the theme of the year.

When pitches and ideas were close, theme and objectives of the program became the defining element.

This years top 10 eneddled up being a mixed bunch. From IT to food to crafts, different ideas on different industries made it past our criteria.

One idea I would like to mention and record for myself is the idea pitched by Amarsali. Amarsali has been trying to win for the past 11 years. Yes, he’s attempted 11 times. 3 times he made it into the finals.

It was a case of third time lucky.

His pitch had merit and deserved to win. It was creative and innovative, vegetable and dark chocolate to make vegan chocolate. Packaging was well designed. And he had MVPs for each market he spoke about. B2B and B2C.

It was well thought through and presented. He won on that and not because he asked publicly “I’ve been contesting 11 times, what does it take to win???”

His reaction when his name was announced, the pure joy and happiness at winning, was well worth spending the more than 12 hours in judging the contest today.

I suppose if there is anything to learn from this, it would be to keep on trying and keep innovating as you go.