Pivot East

The PIVOT East Startup Competition 2019

The PIVOT East startup competition and conference are held annually to recognise and uplift the best startups in East Africa for a pitch to potential investors.

PIVOT East is organised by iHub, an Innovation hub and hacker space for the technology community in Nairobi that was started in March 2010 by Erik Hersman a blogger, TED fellow and entrepreneur.

PIVOT East Startup Competition

The PIVOT East program comprises of entrepreneurial workshops, a pitching competition and conference for entrepreneurs leveraging technology to provide products or services to customers, and business advisory sessions.

It culminates in the top 25 East Africa startups pitching to investors and partners at a finalists conference. Apart from developers and entrepreneurs, typical audiences at the event include investors, corporate executives, government officials, Hub Managers, SME enablers, representatives of development organizations and academia.

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For purposes of PIVOT East competition, the definition that “a startup company or startup is a company or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model” will apply. The competition will accept treatment of innovative software and hardware solutions fronted by companies that otherwise have other solutions as separate startup entries.

This will be on the expectation that the innovative solution entered in the competition can be:

  • New products/services by new startups
  • New products/services by former Pivot East finalist
  • Spin-offs from existing companies with the potential/intention to grow into a separate autonomous company.

The competition has five categories in both software and hardware which are;

  1. Finance – including digital or mobile payments, banking, insurance, cryptocurrencies, e-commerce etc.
  2. Enterprise – including ERP Systems, CRMs, Recruiting platforms, value chain management, marketing, production,  etc.
  3. Entertainment – including gaming, social networking, e-magazines, music, video, photography etc.
  4. Social Impact – including education, agriculture, health, governance, and other social development themes.
  5. Utilities – A catch-all category including applications for enhancing the usability and versatility of technology etc


  • Participating startups must be domiciled in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia.
  • Entries to the competition will be considered to be startups as per the universal definition of a “startup”* or a startup company (*as done below)
  • Participants must fill the co-founder’s details, startup profile and startup details. 
  • Participating startups must also indicate details of at least two members of their team in their application profile
  • Companies that reached final 25 lists of previous PIVOT East competition cannot compete with products/services previously submitted for the competition, the judging panel will have the discretion to disqualify entries in breach of this requirement.
  • Competitors selected to the final 25 must have set up a legal entity (business name, limited company etc) for their business by the time the call for application closes. Competitors with legal entities already set up will have an added advantage at all judging stages.
  • Decisions of the judging committees at all competition stages will be final.
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How to Apply

Note: Make sure you have a venture profile published on the VC4Africa platform.

Startups that meet the eligibility criteria above may enter their application into the competition through the following steps:

  1. Go to VC4Africa platform and set up your startup profile HERE
  2. Curate your startup profile according to given profile headings: co-founder’s details, startup profile and startup details.

Applicants are advised to use all components available under the profiles section to best describe their strengths and potential for growth.

Deadline: 13th April 2019


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