Posted 29 February 2020

With the DBACE deadline approaching, here’s how to submit a standout application

Knowing how to pitch and present your business as a young entrepreneur is a pretty vital skill – especially when it comes to securing funding or investment. So how can you make sure you give your idea or project the best shot at success? As the deadline for the Deutsche Bank Awards for Creative Entrepreneurs (DBACE) gets closer, we’re sharing expert advice from industry leaders to help you submit the very best application possible.

If you’ve got an emerging business or idea for an enterprise with creativity and purpose at its core, don’t miss the chance to apply for DBACE, ahead of the closing date on April 7. Alongside the opportunity to secure investment from a pot of £50,000 and 12 months of tailored business support with programme partner MeWe360, the process of applying is also an insightful exercise in refining your concept and business plan.

But before entering, you’ll want to consider some crucial factors. Read on for the expert tips from business leaders and experienced DBACE judges.

Consider your impact

Know how your idea or business will make a difference
Since DBACE is all about helping to support ideas that make a positive impact on people and communities, you need to know the exact problem you’re trying to solve and why it’s important. For David Kershaw, CEO at M&C Saatchi, this means asking yourself: “How will it change a situation? How will it change the world?”

It’s paramount that you communicate your mission clearly, so be confident in putting your purpose at the forefront of your application. Highlight the need for your product or service, the target audience and how it sets out to impact people, places or the wider environment. This might start at a smaller scale, but also bear in mind its potential to grow and have much greater effect.

“Numbers will go a long way to demonstrating the viability of your enterprise.” – Tiina Lee, Deutsche Bank

Tiina Lee, CEO for Deutsche Bank UK and Ireland, stresses the importance of knowing your finances and having a strong business model

Prepare your business model

Know your numbers
Ever watched entrepreneurs on Dragons’ Den present amazing ideas, only to be left sweating under the studio lights over their lack of numerical know-how? Don’t be like them! “Numbers should be at the heart of your proposal,” says Deutsche Bank CEO for UK and Ireland, Tiina Lee. “Think about it: you’re asking for investment and support, and numbers will go a long way to demonstrating the viability of your enterprise.”

This means being able to demonstrate a realistic, financially stable and profitable business model. Theadora Alexander, co-founder of Young Foodies, advises considering “the business behind the business” as soon as possible: “Think about how you’re going to be making money out of this – and early on – so you’re truly investable.” In addition, you’ll want to be ready to talk about your marketability and vision for the future.

Do your research and know your USP
Most businesses will have their own unique selling point (USP) based on a gap they’ve spotted in the market. The judges will want to know what sets you apart, so be sure to celebrate this. In the words of Pentagram partner Naresh Ramchandani, “Make sure you highlight how your idea is different from anything else out there…and how you’re going to deliver it.”

In order to truly understand and feel confident about your USP, it’s essential to know who you’re up against. This relies on researching the sector and being able to identify your competitors, in order to strengthen your argument for why your own idea should be one of the five DBACE winners.

DBACE’s ‘Advice from the sector’

Consider how investment will add value

Show how the funding and business support will help
You’ve got the great idea and a solid business model – so what’s your plan if you land the prize money? To help the judges understand how the investment would propel your business forward, you’ll want to clearly pinpoint the steps you’d take and the milestones you’d expect to reach.

Winning DBACE isn’t all about money, it’s also the investment in you. As an entrepreneur, DBACE will give you tailored business support over a year to enrich you both professionally and personally. As Galit Dafny – Director in Non-Financial Risk Management at Deutsche Bank, and a judge for the first round of live pitches in 2019 – shares, “It’s important [that] applicants can identify what value DBACE will provide through the bespoke support. Showing how you will leverage the mentoring or how access to [our] networks could help your business grow, will demonstrate how your leadership could take your idea to the next, viable level in the market.”

Ije Nwokorie, former CEO of Wolff Olins, encourages maintaining your own voice in your pitch and application

Demonstrate leadership

Communicate your passion and drive
As the advice in this article proves, there are a lot of factors to consider! This is why communicating all of the above in an engaging and passionate way throughout your pitch is vital. As Ije Nwokorie – former CEO of Wolff Olins – warns, presenting yourself in business terms while meeting award criteria can leave you “in danger of losing authenticity.”

So remember to stay true to your own voice, capturing a sense of who you are as a person and how that’s driving your business. As Deutsche Bank’s Tiina Lee points out, “We’re looking for passion with purpose. We’re investing as much in you as an entrepreneur as in your idea.”

“I am looking [for] imagination, hard work, passion and a willingness to learn. Everything else, we can help develop.” – Kevin Osborne, MeWe360

Show commitment, hard work and a willingness to grow
With all of this comes a level of openness that the judges are eager to see. You want to show that you’re not only resilient, but have the capacity to learn and develop. That’s why, for Kevin Osborne, founder and CEO of MeWe360, it’s about spotting leadership and entrepreneurial potential. “I am looking at the things we cannot provide: imagination, hard work, passion and a willingness to learn,” he says, “everything else, we can help them develop.”

DBACE’s ‘Advice from the sector’

If you’re applying for DBACE this year, be sure you leave yourself plenty of time to submit your application ahead of the April 7 deadline, to avoid slower processing times. And if you’re looking for extra guidance, there will be DBACE support webinars on March 2nd and March 14th, as well as a whole range of resources packed full of advice and regular updates via newsletters.


We have partnered with Deutsche Bank’s CSR Made for Good social enterprise programme to bring you coverage of DBACE opportunities and the impact it’s had previously. Look out for further features over the coming months, and learn more about DBACE here.

Every year, Lecture in Progress partners with like-minded brands and agencies to support our initiative and keep Lecture in Progress a free resource for students and emerging creatives. To find out more about how you can work with us, email [email protected]

Written by Creative Lives in Progress
Mention Deutsche Bank – Made for Good
Mention MeWe360