Pieter du Plessis and Viljoen de Kock are the owners of GUDGU (meaning Goodness From The Earth). Having both lost weight, they couldn’t find a decent tasting sugar-free drink and decided to make their own. Now, they manufacture sugar-free cordials that can be used to make cold drinks, mocktails and cocktails. Using a secret blend called SugO, their claim to fame is zero aftertaste. 

As the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown started, Pieter and Viljoen enrolled in an online business course. The instructor helped these partners in business stay focused on growth during the ongoing levels of lockdown. She felt they were ready for the ENGEN Pitch & Polishcompetition and encouraged them to enter. 

Having read up on the new digital version of the competition, they realised that the guiding (mentoring) portion was exactly what they were looking for. “Sometimes we have a lot of questions but no one to ask,” explains Viljoen.   

“We entered five days before the closing date and made it through. We have not done anything like this before and it was completely out of our comfort zone,” Pieter says. They found their Raizcorp guide to be friendly and understanding. “He could lead us in the right direction. It was a great experience working with him. He was knowledgeable and on top of trends,” Viljoen remarks, adding, “The fact that we could ask questions and know the answer was correct was priceless.” 

Pieter and Viljoen have both gained a great deal of knowledge between their first pitch and making it through to the top four. “We were focusing on the wrong information. Now we know what information is important to get your message across to potential investors. We didn’t know our numbers and now that we do, it has changed the way we do business completely. We are also more comfortable and we know where our risk lies,” Pieter explains. 

To anyone taking part of the competition this year, Pieter says, “Keep the prize money in the back of your head. If you are serious, come for the training and mentorship. It is business changing. After each session, we go back and implement what we have learned – and it works! The mentorship has changed the way we do things in our factory.”

As the winners of 2021 competition, Pieter and Viljoen walked away with a cash prize of R650 000, as well as a bursary worth R350 000 to attend a full two-year business development and growth programme from Raizcorp. 

All previous episodes of the 2021 ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition are available for viewing at www.pitchandpolish.com.