Wednesday, 16 April 2014

There are 4 ways of building a Start-up in Africa

Over time I have come this conclusion: There are 4 ways of building a business~routes to success in entrepreneurship. Or basically 4 types of founders. 

Do your stuff quietly, innovate and build things people need, sell massively, do ONLY things that improve your bottom line and focus on just that. And if you do that consistently money then comes. This kind of a person| agency| business is good or the best at what he/they does/do. His story is not frequently told, neither are there many case studies on the work he has done. He is rich or makes his money quietly but he will not let things like appointments to a seat in private sector ‘lobby’ committee, a board, part of a Government or NGO think tank or such things take his focus from doing what he enjoys doing. He simply fixes what he has total control over and leaves the rest for others to sort or screw up. This is the story of Kamal~Craft Silicon.
2. Build your thing as you share your story:~ This is the entrepreneur who is in the office for 3 days a week and spends the remaining four days in conferences, meet ups, panel sessions, talk shows, doing interviews etc. This guy knows one thing….to tell a good story and back it up with the work he does~he has a great team to fix issues while he’s away. I don’t want to give names here. But if you want to scale a social enterprise, raise funding, get partners and attract good talent this is the person you have to be.

3. The story teller: This is the entrepreneur who mastered the art of great story telling. His decks are so cool, flawless presentations full of case & use studies and full of quotes from reports and great people. He knows what’s happening around and people making it happen so he has no problem knowing where to go share his story. If he’s not speaking in a session, he’ll be the guy asking the questions. He doesn’t have a permanent residence~if he has the kids haven’t seen him for a while now, stays in hotels and checks into JKIA quite often. He tweets ruthlessly and will never turn down an interview request~he has a pile of business cards collected from his trips. Any publicity is good publicity for him. He uses that publicity to attract funding, recruit, sell his stuff and scale.

The only problem here is, only a few guys can pull this off

a) Wazungus~ you have some donors and friends back home to support your mission in Africa.

b) You’re a rich kid or a who is who kinda network~ Your dad was a Minister in Moi’s govt, you’re from money, your uncles are rich, your siblings are doing big things, you know people and these people KNOW YOU!

c). You have 15 yrs + work experience in a specific sector and some deep respect from your peers. This guy has worked so hard to get the credentials. A PHD here is an added advantage.

d). You have your ‘Africa rising story’ and you can tell it properly~perhaps in a TED kinda set up.

4. Be your own man kinda founder. These are guys who are doing things their way. Making mistakes and fixing them, they don’t talk or overpromise & under deliver. The get it done. They don’t follow rules or read about tips to be successful and rich. They have no manual. So they don’t know what the lean start-up methodology is, the haven’t used a business model canvas, they don’t know much about the 10~20~30 rule. Or all the new things out here. They don’t want outside money|VC capital, some partner logos and such kinda things. They do their stuff and sell it. They only care about the customer. And they’ll do anything to keep that guy happy. They respect the customer because he’s the only guy who can fire them all by spending his money elsewhere. They don’t fuck around. Most Wahindis, Kikuyu’s and Kalasinga’s fall here.


So what type of a founder are you? Or what route are you on? Did I leave anyone out? Talk to me…leave a comment

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