Intellectual Property Considerations During Startup Pitches

  • Victor Nzomo
  • |  
  • March 5, 2016
  • |
  • openAIR

At Strathmore University, @iBizAfrica is a busi­ness incub­ator that was set up to car­ry out the Entre­pren­eur­ship and Incub­a­tion theme of Strathmore’s @iLabAfrica. @iBizAfrica seeks to provide a nur­tur­ing envir­on­ment that builds on the poten­tial of the youth to develop ICT solu­tions and busi­nesses. As part of @iBizAfrica activities, any member of the public with an interesting business idea/innovation is welcomed to come and pitch their idea during Pitch Friday at @iBizAfrica.
Pitch Friday is an opportunity for innovators to present their ideas in an elevator pitch format to a closed audience of business mentors, entrepreneurs and investors. It takes place during the last Friday of every month from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Presenters get 5 minutes to pitch their ideas to an experienced panel. They also get an opportunity to join @iBizAfrica’s Incubator and possibly secure financial and business advisory services from @iBizAfrica. This blogger once attended a Pitch Friday session at @iBizAfrica’s not-so-creatively-named “Shark Tank” room. This blogpost is a series of observations from Pitch Friday from an intellectual property (IP) perspective.

Here goes:-
1. While all the presenters seemed to know that CIPIT is the place to go for advice/help and other IP-related services. None of the powerpoint (ppt) presentations contained any specific indications as to the stage of IP protection i.e. search stage, filing/application stage, expected grant/registration date.
2. Still on the presentations, this blogger was surprised at how ‘wordy’ the ppt presentations were at the expense of short, clear and concise modes of presentations that combine a few ppt slides, video clips of the prototype product/service in action or live demonstrations of the prototype product/service in action.
3. Surprisingly, none of the presenters showed any appreciation of disclosure/confidentiality and IP in their presentations.
4. The presenters appeared to lack an appreciation of the power of branding vis-a-vis their prototype products/services. For example, most presenters had websites with logos and colours but these logos and colours do not feature on their ppt presentations and their prototypes.
5. In addition to IP protection, a lot of the presenters had not registered their businesses as limited liability companies.
6. Finally, all the presenters seem to prefer .com domain to .ke – although the latter is cheaper to register, according to Some presenters claimed that the choice of the .com domain was that they hoped to take their businesses global.

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