University of Cape Town: Students win big at The Pitch UCT 2021

The Pitch 2021 received over a hundred proposals from a wide range of disciplines, from the Faculty of Commerce to the Faculty of Health Sciences. As part of The Pitch programme, applicants were invited to a series of seminars throughout the year to assist them in developing the perfect pitch. The stakeholders, the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking (d-school) at UCT, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, and the UCT Graduate School of Business, facilitated these workshops. The Academic Representatives Council (ARC) who lead The Pitch UCT were supported by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor (OVC) and the Residence Life Division, Student Housing & Residence Life in the Department of Student Affairs through coaching and project management.

Each workshop was meticulously planned to provide the applicants with not just the skills they needed to develop their business pitches, but also the full experience of the student entrepreneurial ecosystem. Applicants also had one-on-one coaching sessions with Octavius Phukubye, an experienced enterprise and supplier development lead.

Halfway through the year, applicants were asked to submit audio-visual presentations of their pitches, based on the feedback they had received and the skills they had learned in the workshops. As a result, applications were examined, with 15 making it to the semi-finals and then eight making it to the pitch finale.



“The top eight finalists represent a level of courage and commitment that is rare to find in this group.”

The Academic Representatives Council (ARC), in collaboration with the Vice Chancellor’s Office (OVC), spent the entire year preparing for the first hybrid version of The Pitch finale, and only a few people were able to attend to keep in line with COVID-19 protocols. Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng; Acting Vice-Chancellor for Transformation Emeritus Professor Martin Hall; keynote speaker, Yolanda Cuba (Group Regional Vice President Southern and East Africa at MTN Group); and an high profile judging panel of specialists in the field, Catherine Lückhoff (Co-founder and CEO of 20fifty), Bojane Segooa CA SA (Founder Levels Up), Khanyisile Madonko-Nderezina (Founder: Madonko Enterprises) and Andrew Smith (Co-Founder and CEO: Yuppie chef), were among those in attendance.

The Pitch finals was made up of a limited social distanced attendance that included a virtual element as well. This allowed finalists who were based outside of the country to pitch their business ideas virtually and interact with the esteemed judges.

Winning pitches

Venture & Co won first place and received R25 000 in seed money. “At Venture & Co and through the GrowPod, we want to introduce home gardening to everyone,” said Julian Reid, the founder. The GrowPod is a hydroponic system that focuses on aesthetics, ease of use, and efficiency.

Vambo Academy came in second and received R15 000. “Vambo Academy is an EdTech targeted at improving access to indigenous language study and information,” said its founder, Chido Dzinotyiwei.

Spanish historian Dr Ángel Tordesillas explains
GoShare came in third and received R10 000. “GoShare is a gamified, donation-based crowdfunding platform that helps tertiary students to raise funds to cover their outstanding fee debt,” said Tshegofatso Masenya, the company’s founder.

Sean Abrahams, Residence Life Division senior coordinator for learning and innovation, commended the finalists as well as the ecosystem partners that assisted in the creation of this hybrid event.

“The sign of The Pitch finale is not to be underestimated. The top eight finalists represent a level of courage and commitment that is rare to find in this age group but inspires entrepreneurial thinking that must continue to expand to … the student community.”

Frank Karigambe, Residence Life Division coordinator shared in his opening remarks on the exponential growth of the program from its inception and accelerated with the support entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“The Pitch has created a space for UCT students to think creatively about the solutions they have for existing and future challenges. We have used a growth framework called GRIT (Persistence) to ensure The Pitch builds UCT student entrepreneurs to be globally minded, have the ability to remain consistent, handle setbacks over longer periods of time with their entrepreneurial project/start-up.

Offering such outstanding program was made possible with excellent student leadership of Princess Lengwati (Chair), Tyra Gondwe (Secretary General), Masande Desi (Treasurer), Academic Representative Council (ARC) and Soligah Solomons as Logistics coordinator leading the team with amazing GRIT every stage of the program

Soligah Solomons, the logistics coordinator for The Pitch, said that she has worked with the ARC, stakeholders, and all applicants throughout the year and is very proud of everyone’s effort.

“We have seen the finalists at their highs and at their lows during this journey. I have absolute faith that these young entrepreneurs will contribute meaningfully towards the country’s economy.”

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