Google expands wings in support of innovators

Google’s Launchpad will cover mobile app and web developers this year. AFP PHOTO
Google’s Launchpad will cover mobile app and web developers this year. AFP PHOTO  

The world of technology is in constant flux with new things coming to market and start-ups rising up to tackle current and future challenges. The support systems for these startups have also grown with a mix of everything from pure play capitalisation, incubation and acceleration.

Capitalisation is the desired goal of most businesses starting up, to empower them to grow or meet other key performance indicators critical to business survival and growth.
Incubation and acceleration are, however, critical to achieving an investment milestone.

Sometimes these two are used interchangeably but they carry distinct differences in the stage of company that they may accept.

Incubation is really the early stage support structure that looks to provide scaffolding for a start-ups first months with programmes often going nine months to a year. This should not be confused with co-working that seems to have taken major African cities by storm.

Accelerators sharpen and focus start-ups that have achieved product — market fit and have started scaling in terms of customers, market share, revenue, team....

Google has been active in the global start-up space, offering free access via credits to tools that lower the technological barriers to market entry for innovators and also committing both human and capital resources towards supporting promising start-up teams in emerging markets through the Launchpad Accelerator.

On the higher end of their acceleration cycle, we have seen companies such as Nigeria’s Delivery Science, Flutterwave, Gidi Mobile, and Paystack; South Africa’s Jumo and Kenya’s Twiga Foods benefit from mentorship, equity-free support, and access to Silicon Valley experts.

This year has marked the start of their regional initiatives targeted at 40 countries. Launchpad Africa, with a three- month cycle looks to select startups based in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda with a committed fund of $3 million (Sh300m) deployed over three years and targeting 60 participating companies.

Going beyond the digital skills they have supported in the past, a partnership with Udacity is offering scholarships starting May 8, covering web and mobile app development for the novice and experienced.

The top 150 and 100 respectively qualify for the Nanodegree Programmes.