There is a definite art to pitching your company, products and brand to potential investors, and it is an art that Kuli Kuli Foods founder and ceo, Lisa Curtis, seems to have mastered. She has just appeared on CNBC's Power Pitch programme, winning new fans in the process. CNBC's Power Pitch is similar to Shark Tank where entrepreneurs get the opportunity to pitch their company to a panel of three investors. After the pitch, the investors have to decide... are they in or are they out? In the case of Kuli Kuli Foods, they were definitely in!
The story of Kuli Kuli Foods is a really interesting and inspirational one. Founder and ceo, Lisa Curtis, witnessed the challenges that rural communities in West Africa face as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger. After a few months with limited fruits and vegetables, she found herself experiencing early signs of malnutrition, a condition that affects over 18 million children across West Africa. Then a friend told Lisa about Moringa, a local tree with highly nutritious leaves and handed her a bag of kuli-kuli, a Hausa food made from peanuts, to make a delicious, nutty Moringa dinner. Lisa incorporated Moringa into her diet and began to regain her strength. Lisa saw a solution to the malnutrition and poverty in her village growing in the nutritious leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree. Upon returning to the U.S., Lisa worked with her childhood best friend, Valerie Popelka, to create the first prototypes of what became Kuli Kuli Bars. Jordan Moncharmont and Anne Tsuei brought their web and design skills to the team, and together they formed Kuli Kuli, a mission-driven business. Today, Kuli Kuli’s mission is to provide everyone who wants to access the nutritional power of Moringa with the knowledge and reosurces to do so. All of the company’s products are made with Moringa, one of the most nutritious plants on the planet, and nourish the body as well as the communities around the world where Moringa is grown. www.kulikulifoods.com
On 20 May, Lisa was given the opportunity to pitch the Kuli Kuli Foods story to the panel of investors on the popular CNBC Power Pitch programme - here is an extract from her blog, sharing her experience on the show as she mastered the art of pitching!
“I’ve now had the opportunity to represent Kuli Kuli on TV four times. My latest appearance on CNBC’s Power Pitch was undoubtedly the coolest. The whole filming process made me feel like a VIP, a far cry from my normal Kuli Kuli trips where I sleep on friend’s couches and spend endless hours passing out samples in stores. First of all, my soon-to-be in-laws let me stay with them in Manhattan in their guest bedroom (thank you Arthur family!). The first day of the filming, a black town car picked me up at 9am and brought me to the CNBC studio. CNBC is the largest business news network in the US and is owned by NBC (you know, the peacock looking logo). Upon arrival at the studio, I was taken to the green room where there was coffee and pastries. I was too nervous to eat anything so I simply waited until they called me into the makeup studio. One woman blow-dried, straightened and then curled my hair. If you don’t know me, those are three hair-dos that I probably haven’t done since high school. Another woman spent about 30 minutes painting my face with make-up. I was pleasantly surprised that it still looked natural. In her words “it takes a lot to do this whole ‘natural look.’” First I filmed the “Power Pitch,” the 1 minute pitch that I had practiced the whole plane ride from SF to NYC. The practice paid off and I nailed the pitch on the first try. They still had me do it a few more times, mostly to get my volume up. Believe it or not, you sound best on TV when you’re close to yelling into the camera.
The producers then edited the pitch and added in some footage of the moringa farmers we work with in Ghana and Haiti. I returned to the studio to meet the three investor judges, Kelly Keenan Trumpbour of See Jane Invest, Alicia Syrett of Pantegrion Capital and Nir Liberboim of Uprise Ventures. All three of the investor judges were incredibly kind and asked thoughtful questions. They were a far cry from the “sharks” that you sometimes get at these types of pitches. I was thrilled to that all three of them voted to go “in” on Kuli Kuli. As the producer told me afterwards, less than 10% of entrepreneurs that present get all three investors to go “in.” It’s great to have more validation that we really are onto something!
To view Lisa Curtis, founder and ceo of Kuli Kuli Foods, pitching on CNBC’s Power Pitch programme, go to her blog and watch the video here.