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Aug 24, 2022

She’s spilling her pitch competition victory secrets

Tania Kottoor Headshot of Excelerate America Interview

Tania Kottoor is the Co-Founder and CEO of WESTxEAST, the world’s first AI powered design platform for custom-fit ethnic clothing. Since launching in 2018 Tania and her company have produced over 1,000 made-to-measure garments, an incredible accomplishment that furthers their mission to preserve cultural heritage through clothing. Along the way Tania has participated in multiple pitch competitions, cohorts, programs, and bootcamps to further her entrepreneurial knowledge and access much-needed capital for WESTxEAST. She was also the winner of our 2022 Spring Pitch Competition in partnership with Dell Technologies.

⁠We caught up with this seasoned pitch performer and motivated entrepreneur to share some of her best tips and advice for fellow small business entrepreneurs looking for those all-important funding opportunities. 

You were the winner of our Spring Pitch Competition. Congrats again! How did you feel about competing? 
It was my second time participating in a virtual pitch competition. I was still nervous because I wanted to win for my team. I was a bit surprised because it was my first win. I went last and the judges asked me the most questions. So I kinda knew they were intrigued. I wouldn’t have done anything differently. 

⁠I used the prize money to purchase Dell Technologies equipment for my design and production team in India who are super thrilled! 

Do you have any advice for a small business entrepreneur who wants to raise capital?
Build meaningful relationships and ask for introductions. Other than institutional capital, explore different options. We ran a crowdfunding campaign during the pandemic through iFundWomen. It was a way for us to give back to the craft clusters we work with in India and test out new services and products. 

⁠⁠What is your favorite part about competing in pitch competitions? 
It’s a great opportunity to get my name out there as a founder. It helps me get more comfortable pitching and understanding what type of questions investors would ask. 

What’s your best advice for entrepreneurs who want to get involved and take advantage of pitch and grant competitions? 
Perfect practice. Practice like you mean it every time with your mentors and advisors. Get feedback and refine the pitch. Put yourself out there and do pitch competitions because you’ll learn from your mistakes and get better quickly. 

⁠And always remember to put on a show! Smile and have a lot of energy. 

What have you learned about honing your pitch that’s made a difference for you? 
The mentorship from Excelerate America was super helpful to hone my pitch. I’m more confident in speaking and answering questions. 

⁠Storytelling is so important. At the end of the day, people are buying into you and NOT the product/service. They want to connect and be part of the story. I’m excited to keep entering more competitions! I recently won the USPAACC Southeast Chapter Regional Pitch Competition in August 2022. I will be pitching at the national level in October 2022! 

⁠⁠What is next for you and your business, WESTxEAST? 
We’re currently raising a pre-seed round of funding so we can scale for hypergrowth. 

⁠We want to become the one-stop-shop for all your traditional garment needs and fulfill our mission to preserve cultural heritage through clothing. 


Leslie Youngblood

Motivated by daring doers. Lover of fashion and dogs.