Practice Makes Perfect for the 2019 Pitch Fest Winner

Jul 26, 2019

The past 12 months has been a hugely successful period for Sydney based business Swag Australia when it comes to pitching. Not only did the business put forth a successful pitch on the Channel 10 series Shark Tank, they also won Naturally Good’s 2019 Pitch Fest as well!

“The expo is always a fantastic opportunity to showcase our products in front of prominent retailers and industry people and winning Pitch Fest this year made it even more worthwhile,” said The Swag founder Peita Pini. “Being able to explain our passion and product in-depth to a captive audience was invaluable and we were thrilled to win.”

L to R: Judge Katrina Borisjuk Cohen, Director of Snack Futures Innovation, The Swag founder Peita Pini, judge Tim Sperry, former Wholefoods purchasing manager, and judge Jackie Goldston from Unique Health Products.

Up against four other worthy finalists, Peita delivered a passionate five-minute pitch about The Swag’s unique range of vegetable and fruit fridge bags in front of esteemed judges including former Wholefoods purchasing manager Tim Sperry, Jackie Goldston from Unique Health Products, and Katrina Borisjuk Cohen, Director of Snack Futures Innovation, and won a prize package valued at more than $10,000 as a result.

The Swag pitch

Peita said it’s always compelling to start any kind of pitch outlining the problem and the solution. “Basically, as a waste-conscious mum, I was sick of throwing away rotting fruit and vegetables. Not only does this cause a lot of food and plastic wastage which is bad for the planet, it’s literally money down the drain.

“So almost three years ago I launched The Swag. Made out of multi-layers of unbleached, unseeded cotton, when dampened down with water it allows any produce inside it to breathe and hydrate, therefore staying fresher and nutrient-rich for weeks in the crisper of the fridge. Painting this scenario for people to visualise was a great way for people to engage with how the product works.

“For anyone entering Pitch Fest next year, I would also say it’s really important to keep to the five-minute time period and be really impactful. Don’t try to cram everything in, remember you also have a 10-minute question and answer session afterwards. Anything you’d like to add you can work into that.”

A worthy winner

During her presentation, Pini also emphasized her core focus for starting her business was her passion for the environment. “I really care about the planet, so I wanted to do something that contributed to less waste,” she said.

“Having launched in 2016, we’ve now sold more than 300,000 Swags. I feel the timing has been right given in the last few years there’s been a huge global emphasis on protecting the environment, using fewer resources and creating less food and plastic waste. This was part of the reason why we won – the judges recognised our commitment to a worldwide issue and felt our product had the most global potential.”

Honing pitching skills for Shark Tank

When asked if she was nervous going up against a room full of judges, Pini laughed. “Well, no more nervous than pitching on Shark Tank last year in front of TV cameras,” she said. “For that I did a full two-minute pitch and was quizzed for over an hour by the panel which was cut down to about 6 minutes on screen. It was nerve-wracking but a great experience and generated quite a bit of publicity, too.”

Pini’s pitch was so convincing she was offered a deal by entrepreneur Glen Richards. “He offered a structured deal of $300,000 for 25 per cent of the company, we were initially thrilled about. However, The Richards Group did their due diligence following the show and it was mutually agreed that Swag Australia was valued at a lot more than what was discussed on the show, so we didn’t go through with the deal. Glen mentors me from time to time which has been fantastic.”

The Pitch Fest prize pack

Besides the distinction, valuable exposure, and actionable feedback from the audience and judges, for their Pitch Fest efforts The Swag won a free 9m2 stand for Naturally Good 2020, an article featured on What’s New in Healthy Products, an article featured on the Naturally Good website and distributed via eNews plus a one-on-one consultation session with US-based expert Bob Burke.

“Having a consultation with Bob who is one of the world’s best natural products marketers, is invaluable,” said Pini. “He’s currently trialling our product to get a feel for it and I’m hugely looking forward to his feedback and guidance.”

What’s next for The Swag

Following on from the win, Pini said the next year is going to be an even bigger one for the brand.

“We’ve expanded our range to include 100% natural Swag Produce Bags, Bread Swags, Tea Swags and Lunch Swags and we have some brand new products in the pipeline that will be available within the next few months.”

“We’re stocked in wholesalers in the US and Canada, where our product has gone gangbusters thanks to Oprah Winfrey naming The Swag as one of her favourite sustainable products in O Magazine. Here, we’re in talks with a commercial kitchen as many restaurants want to keep food wastage down and the University of Newcastle is soon to release a research piece explaining from a scientific perspective how and why The Swag is able to keep fruit and veggies fresh for weeks. They’re also researching the nutritional content of the produce stored in The Swag.”

“We’ve even been asked to possibly pitch on the US version of Shark Tank which would be incredible. At least I’ve now got lots of good pitching experience under my belt if that comes off!”

Pitch Fest will return in 2020 – stay tuned for more information later this year. You can also view the five finalists from the 2019 Pitch Fest.

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