The Pitching Den is one of the many programmes Innovate Durban facilitates to create opportunities for innovators in KwaZulu-Natal to commercialise their ideas by providing capacity building support and celebrating their innovation journey.
This year, more that 80 innovators from across the province submitted their entries and from those submissions the 10 contestants that participated were selected. The shortlisted innovators underwent rigorous investment pitch readiness training, prior to the event. The aim of this training was to capacitate the contestants with the confidence and fluency to pitch to investors or the panel of judges. The pinnacle of the competition is the pitching of their MVP or prototype before a panel of thought leaders of innovation in KZN, in the hopes to win the cash prizes. The top three pitches are awarded prize money to advance their concept or companies.
This year's Pitching Den participants brought forward innovative and high-impact solutions and the judges were so impressed with the young entrepreneurs' ideas that they found it difficult to pick just three winners. This year, as a first ever precedence, judges unanimously decided on having a fourth winner. Sine Shabalala wowed the panel of judges with her recruitment app concept and was given prize money to the value of R15,000 to assist her to in development of her solution prototype.
The first prize of R50,000 went to Dimitri Kalamoudacos with an app to automate and assist with various administration services for retailers. The 2nd prize of R35,000, was awarded to Khanyisani Buthelezi and his partners who felt the need to put a sense of emergency in the medical industry. The 3rd prize, of R25,000, went to Nomcebo Nzimakwe who saw the gap in the water supply and filled the cup with her company called Sky Drop.
Judges for this session included Dr Yaseera Ismail, senior lecturer, College of Agriculture, Engineering & Science School of Chemistry at UKZN, Justice Matarutse, programme manager: Innovation Economic Research, Strategy & Innovation at EThekwini Municipality - Economic Development Unit, Rodney Pillay, head of innovation and incubation at Derivco, Siyabonga Gumede, portfolio manager: Innovation for Local Economic Development at Technology Innovation Agency.
A big congratulations and well done to all the participants and we look forward to seeing the roll-out of the various innovations.