Tech incubators spur creation of world-class companies
Posted Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 18:21
Launching and running a technology start-up in Africa can prove to be a tricky affair as numerous challenges face founders and their teams as they dream big and create solutions with the end game of being profitable and ensuring a return for investors.
Now imagine the challenges that face incubators or accelerators, whose business is to guide and stabilise these start-ups and release them well equipped into the world.
We have seen many initiatives mushroom across Africa, all with a vision to spur innovation and creation of world class companies. The spotlight has been on them to show the “fruits of their labour”.
Two particular outfits in Kenya are seemingly ahead of the pack in graduating their first class of “students”, or at least taking them to the next level of business in what has been an experiment of sorts to test sustainable business models and create ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Investment firm 88mph that is behind the Start-up Garage has seen some traction in their investment portfolio whose more prominent “students” are Tusquee Systems, a school management platform; Drugs.co.ke, a mix of online and brick and mortar pharmaceutical solutions outfit; and Futaa.com, a football news portal for the Kenyan, Nigerian and Ugandan markets.
Futaa.com recently closed a second round of funding worth $300,000 lead by investors from Nigeria.
Nailab, a tech incubation hub, is graduating its first class of start-ups this August, and starts recruiting for their second class soon after.
Their systems have been tried and tested to produce companies that are well on their way to greater success, with a firm foundation of business sense from peer interaction and critique as well as exposure to mentors, high-level training and knowledge transfer from consultants from Accenture and the One Percent Club.
Nailab’s student roll includes Ghafla, an entertainment portal; Card Planet, who make microchip cards for tertiary institutions; Weza Tele, a mobile commerce platform provider for the retail sector; Mprep, taking a swipe at the challenges of delivering quality education to the masses; Brite Skills, democratising knowledge transfer; Ukall, with business process automation solutions; Vive Visuals, helping brands communicate more efficiently via motion graphics; and the Creative Community Networks that provides customised business solutions to the creative industry.
These “start-ups” in the business of start-ups are proving that it is indeed possible to create ecosystems that support innovation and entrepreneurship.
I hope that all the other players will hit similar, if not better, numbers as the end result will serve to position Africa as a net producer of value that can be exported, creating both employment and generating much needed revenue, whose sole raw material is and has been our creative capital.
Mbugua Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic | Twitter: @mbuguanjihia