At the recently concluded Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) forum, a pitching competition was held which gave entrepreneurs around the African continent to pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges.
The founder and CEO of CashMadam, Mahassin Quadri, emerged the winner of this competition. She met with the Tony Elumelu Foundation team to speak about her business, her experience at the TEF forum and her future plans.
Q: Tell us about your business and the unique solutions that you offer?
A: Our business, CashMadam App is a mobile solution for small and growing businesses.
Q: What was your vision for your business from the outset?
A: We at CashMadam believe that everyone should be able to use technology to improve and optimise life, regardless of their economic, educational or social background. So, we created CashMadam App to help the basic users of technology, those who seem to be neglected in the tech revolution, use technology to overcome daily challenges in business
Q: What impact has your business made so far since your inception in terms of revenue generation, job creation and community impact?
A: CashMadam App has helped many members of the informal business sector to optimise their resources, make better decisions, run more efficiently and increase productivity from day to day. During the next 24 months, we will be hiring and training over 10 workers for our current milestones, thereby creating job opportunities for willing youth. We will also help several large institutes tap into the opportunity to access and work with the informal sector through our partnerships.
Q: What challenges have you encountered in the running of your business so far?
A: Our major challenge has been getting the right team together. It’s a lot harder for start-ups to build strong teams because we are literally competing with large establishments for technology experts. Also, there is a lot of competition for funding.
Q: What were the key lessons and action points you took away from the recently concluded TEF Forum, particularly from participating in the TEF pitch competition and winning?
A: I took to heart the advice of the panel of judges to get an education around my focus area and have even taken major steps in that regard already.
The pitching competition was a steep learning curve for me. I think I could talk about the experience and my lessons learned for hours. But my primary take homes were:
Sell your Hussle yourself – The organisers of the pitch competition emphasised the importance of keeping the focus of the pitch on ourselves rather than on the presentation materials or the information. This helped me understand that as entrepreneurs, we are the face and voice of our endeavours and that we should always sell ourselves.
Money is important, but it isn’t everything in business—I still remember someone asking me why I was putting so much effort and time into an event that wasn’t going to get us any funding. Since the pitch event, CashMadam has enjoyed an unprecedented level of publicity, exposure and support. As entrepreneurs, our need for funding can often overshadow other things and make us feel crippled or held back. It’s important for us to understand that money is a means to an end and not the end in itself. You could either be looking for funds to pay for a few adverts and marketing materials or you could put in for a pitch competition that will get you and your product more exposure than you could ever imagine.
Do the work— The preparation period was really tough. Severally, I found myself wondering what I had been thinking when I decided to apply! (Laughs) I had to humble myself so that I could listen and learn and grow. I had to change my schedule to make more time for preparation and practice. I did weird things like pitching to myself in front of the mirror every morning, or in my car, in the middle of traffic, or in the toilet at the event venue. Even my teammates had to go the extra mile to help ensure I was able to deliver on pitch day. But it was more than worth it, and its still paying off for CashMadam App over a month later.
Q: As the winner of the TEF Pitching Competition 2018, what is your advice for other entrepreneurs who would like to participate in events like this?
A: Do it! It’s an experience of a lifetime!
Q: In the near future, what are the plans for your business in terms of expansion and capacity building?
A: In the next 24 months we intend to grow our user base to over 360,000 subscribers in Lagos alone. We plan to develop 5 key partnerships and recruit over 10 workers to help us achieve this.