Updated: Jun 10
Got a big presentation coming up?
Yup, we knew you did.
In this episode, we sit down with Walid Dib to hear his insights on presentation tips for Founders in the Middle East. We discuss:
How to present to prospective clients, investors, and media
How to approach business development within a startup
His experience growing Addenda in a traditional and conservative market
Walid Dib is the CEO and Co-founder of Addenda, a blockchain-based InsurTech company based in the United Arab Emirates.
Walid's 15 top tips for preparing for a big presentation:
1. Tap into your genuine persona. Leveraging your natural capabilities will help you come across as a confident presenter.
2. Get used to failing on stage. Try an improv class to help you get comfortable failing in front of an audience and overcoming stage fright. Courtyard Playhouse offers improv classes in Dubai.
3. Presenter demeanor trumps slides. Rely primarily on presenting verbally, as if you don't have access to visual aids. Treat visual aids (e.g. slides) as a nice-to-have.
4. Duration = depth. The time you're given to present will determine how light or deep your presentation content is.
5. Duration determines slides composition. For shorter-duration presentations, slides should be visual more than text-heavy and intended to cement your oral delivery in 5-10 seconds.
6. Come prepared with different versions. Have several versions of your presentation ready when going to a meeting (each with a different run rate).
7. Know your audience. Structure your communication differently depending on your audience. Customize your presentation from the point of view of who you're presenting to, and position your content to resonate with their objectives.
8. When in doubt, put yourself in their shoes. To help you anticipate the point of view of your audience, draw an empathy map to articulate their position within their respective organizations.
9. Not all investor pitches are the same. Prior to pitching to an investor, do due diligence to see what type of investor they are (e.g. angel vs. seasoned VC).
10. Refine consistently. After each presentation, ask for feedback and tweak your master pitch.
11. Perception is key. Instead of referring to your startup as a "startup", refer to yourself in the market by your business traction (e.g. number of clients, geographic traction) and investor-backing to power client prospecting activities.
12. Amplify industry pain points. Identify which problems your company addresses whilst speaking to the media. Be open to discussing the problems in the first place, as the media wants to share honest content with their audience.
13. Media is powered by people too. Develop personal relationships with people in the media. They will refer you to each other as their community is well-connected.
14. Be mindful of regional differences. Communicate regional differences (e.g. VC ticket sizes) when speaking to audiences abroad to ensure no misunderstanding of your business fundamentals.
15. Never turn down a meeting, no matter who they are, in the first 6 months of your startup.
I was given four minutes to present the entire idea of Addenda to the Investment Committee.
Walid's BONUS tips on how to find prospective clients and investors:
If you're at the MVP stage, ask to develop your product under the mentorship of a seasoned expert who can potentially be a future client (this is especially effective if there is a significant age gap between the founder and mentor). Keep in mind that age can become a factor when dealing with clients in traditional industries.
Once you have traction (e.g. MVP, proof of client traction, or media presence), start to talk to investors.
How else does Walid save his company time and money?
Walid does all his marketing using Microsoft PowerPoint and PR in-house.
Walid keeps an eye on other companies with similar business models and consistently evaluates adapting their practices.
Walid prefers organic marketing over paid media.
Digital companies should emphasize this feature of theirs in a COVID-era.
Walid's insights on the MENA startup ecosystem:
VC ticket sizes are getting larger, but over fewer investments, typically in startups that are post-Seed stage (i.e. revenue-generating, with clients and traction).
COVID-19 has accelerated corporations to work with startups who help them process digitally.
Audiences internationally have a deeper understanding of industries than audiences regionally do.
In the Middle East, business decisions are made over coffee, not in the boardroom.
Never actually turn down an opportunity to meet anybody in the first 6 months of your startup.
Walid Dib is the CEO and Co-founder of Addenda, a blockchain-based InsurTech company based in the United Arab Emirates. He established Addenda with his brother, Karim Dib, in 2018. Since, Addenda has been funded by Oman Tech Fund and the Arab Bank, amongst others.
Addenda helps insurance companies reconcile payments towards motor claims on a digital, blockchain-based platform. The company has processed 30 million dirhams of tractions at the time of episode recording. Its clients include 9 insurance companies in the UAE and 5 in Kuwait. Addenda has an ongoing Proof of Concept with an additional insurance company in the GCC.