Sunday, 20 October 2013

Upstart TV Review: The Good and The Super Awesome


Over the last two weeks UpStart Africa  has toured Kisumu and Mombasa looking for creatives who are tired of designing logos for picky clients , developers who smoke code and build on ideas & designs and cool marketers who can push stuff to the market to join the inaugural Kenyan tech based business reality TV show that premiers mid November.  

When I first heard about this opportunity I knew these guys were kinda looking for me (the marketer):-) and yes I was ready with some work in progress here

 
Just in case you're still lost the vision of Upstart Africa team is to bring the "cool and fun factor" into technology and entrepreneurship by influencing attitudes on technology and entrepreneurship, to inspire innovations that achieve both economic value and social impact.

Sounds exactly the place we all want to be....I was so impressed and I applied all because I really wanted to experience the cool and fun bit of the equation while building a start-up. If you've done something full time....not a side gig, not a freelance project but as a full time founder then you probably know it's not all rosy. (Story for another day)
Most people think that all talent and techie stuff in the country is based in Nairobi and mostly on Bishop Magua Building on Ngong rd, the auditions see to have told a different story    from the tweets I followed and the conversations we had with @KiruiK. The turn-out has been great and the contestants have been nothing but impressive. 

I was invited to the Nairobi auditions set to take place on Saturday (19th) and Sunday (20th) of October 2013 which were held at the Kenya National Theatre.  I was excited, this was my ticket to getting mentored by these amazing people here and if I got it right there then I could meet these  VC's. 
One of the participants
But sadly I never made it. (Long story Kenn Kirui;  but here's why I think Upstart TV is a great initiative)

1. The press coverage: Upstart TV is a televised start up accelerator show. Technical founders (read people who hate too much email) and startups in general have difficulties with getting press coverage for their startups in major dailies, TV and even on blogs. But Upstart is going to air on NTV and tweet about you and your great idea. If the participants hack this well (you don't have to win) they could easily talk their way to the first paying customers, investor, partners, next talented co-founder and just lotsa people willing to join them in the wild ride.  All for FREE!
Btw Read Zappos story on Tony's book called Happiness Book

2. The participants: There's always chemistry when you bring people together mostly at the same early stage with almost similar challenges in an accelerator. In as much as there's the investment to be won/awarded, the cohort really benefits a lot from collaboration amongst one another, knowledge sharing and some honest raw feedback that you don't get out there! Been in one accelerator and most of the challenges I had were solved by fellow participants. So if you're in don't go in to compete bloodily....form relationships and collaborate. And network. These networks lead to and open doors.

3. The mentors: Upstart TV has a well balanced (Gender, industry & talent-wise) list of mentors. (Happy to see Judith on the list)These ladies and gentlemen will help the participants figure it out and refine ideas. Sometimes they will be wrong but ideas are just ideas...and everyone thinks his/hers will change the world but if we put some execution to these ideas & slides then we could improve lives and bank balances. What am I tryna say? Since Upstart TV will air at some point you might want to think about what you disclose that your competition could use against you......we'll all be watching :-).

Side Note: I know founders with a business background often struggle to understand coders. (They're special people)Here's something I think will help you get a long with your technical co-founder esp if he has stopped replying to your emails. Sell this vision to him :-)

“A programmer is most productive with a quiet office/room, a great computer, unlimited beverages, an ambient temperature between 68 and 72 degrees (F), no glare on the screen, a chair that’s so comfortable you don’t feel it, an administrator that brings them their mail and orders manuals and books, a system administrator who makes the Internet as available as oxygen, a tester to find the bugs they just can’t see, a graphic designer to make their screens beautiful, a team of marketing people to make the masses want their products, a team of sales people to make sure the masses can get these products, some patient tech support saints who help customers get the product working and help the programmers understand what problems are generating the tech support calls, and about a dozen other support and administrative functions...” (Source)


Good Reads & Resources:
Search for 
1. Getting Real 

2. Rework 

from 37 Signals.

The wisdom therein is amazing. Well if you're still at the idea stage and just developing something forget about the Business plan, models, features and all that for the moment and read these two books.

To all the participants:
 Congratulations first to the guys who made it;  The world out here expects so much from you so don't disappoint. And to those like me who never got in, auditioned or didn't hear about this earlier keep doing it....passion never fails.



Participant: Upstart Auditions
To Kenn Kirui: 
Wish you and team all the best on this super project.   

To Everyone Else starting out:
 Do you love your idea? Does it feel right on instinct? Get your idea down on paper. We can always tweak it later.

Don’t prepare. Begin. The inner critic? His ass is not permitted in the building. Figure out where you want to go, then work backwards from there. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.
 








   

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