Fresh ideas on building more effective Demo pitches across Africa

By Jonathan Marks on June 18, 2014

I believe that startups in Africa can jump ahead of many of their European counterparts if they develop better, stronger company stories. It’s time to follow more US examples. Let me explain!

Having seen several startup pitches recently, I notice a marked difference between those coming out of US accelerators like Singularity or Techstars and the average accelerator in Europe.

In Europe, those helping startups simply teach you to pitch. It is rather like a vegetable seller on the market in town. The guy on stage shouts that they have made something, names a price, tells everyone they are either unique or way ahead of any competition – and then hopes that investors will line up to buy afterwards. There is often no clear call to action [...]

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DEMO Africa extends application deadline with one week – to Sunday, June 22!

By Miguel Heilbron on June 16, 2014

Africa’s tech innovation launchpad DEMO Africa is keeping the application window open for one more week from Sunday June 15 to Sunday June 22, 2014! VC4Africa is hosting the applications on http://demoafrica2014.com - finish your application this week, don’t miss this last chance!

In startup land, getting through the starting blocks usually takes double the time; molding, tweaking, and playing around with ideas before finally having a ready product. With plenty of applications and extension requests still coming in, the DEMO Africa team found the extension necessary following numerous requests from startups to have more time to meet the DEMO Africa application expectations.

The deadline extension comes even as curtains fall on DEMO Africa’s Innovation Tours 2014. The tours that have just been concluded in Lagos, Nigeria at the [...]

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Investor speak decoded for entrepreneurs

By Odunayo Eweniyi on June 13, 2014

This article by Eweniyi Odunayo originally appeared on TechCabal, a VC4Africa publishing partner.

Probably the most recurrent question a startup company would ask is “Why am I having trouble raising money?”; and probably the one thing that investors everywhere have in common is the fact that they will absolutely not put their money into a startup that has not convinced them of its viability beyond reasonable, and sometimes unreasonable, doubt.

Investors will not put money into a startup for a variety of reasons: limited market size, poor product/market fit, lack of experience and so on, but when giving feedback on why a startup is not getting funding power, investors will not come out and tell you straight up that this is the reason. Here, according to Bryan Stolle‘s “Why won’t [...]

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Research: First Year Startup Costs

By Audrey Cheng on June 11, 2014

This post originally appeared on Savannah Fund’s Waterhole and is published with permission

As a venture capital firm, Savannah Fund is interested in the differing variables that can affect entrepreneurs in the countries of startups we have or will invest in. One of the key metrics we want to understand more about is first year startup costs.

In this research study, we asked hubs and about three startups per country for their first-year startup costs. These costs include: web hosting, internet, entry level engineer, engineer with 3-5 years of experience, shared apartment (for 3 people), workspace desk rental, legal costs, business permits, accounting, travel, and admin/sales.

DISCLAIMER: While our sample size was relatively small, we were interested in seeing the differences between startup [...]

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The amazing spirit amongst Africa’s tech entrepreneurs

By Harry Hare on June 10, 2014

You think you have seen them all until you see more of them. Solutions that you thought had been long employed. Innovations that you thought had long been exploited. The DEMO Africa Innovation Tour across the continent was an eye opener. Last week we were in Ghana. Be sure to apply before coming Sunday, June 15th.

The startups came in numbers and ready to impress the judging panel, which comprised decision makers from top companies in Ghana and other global players including Google. From Citizen Eye, a social enterprise that aims at tracking oil money with an aim to empower citizens to hold the government accountable, to Kitiwa a startup bringing Bitcoin to Africa.

Ghana, like other countries we visited across the continent, indubitably has talent. The pitches [...]

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Ready for innovation launchpad DEMO Africa? Get last tips & see some of the competition!

By Miguel Heilbron on June 6, 2014

DEMO Africa 2014 will present 40 of the most innovative new startups in Africa and highlight some of the best new technology innovations from across the continent. You have one week left (until June 15th) to apply! Joshua Aboah of VC4Africa (handling the applications) gives an update and shares some last tips for entrepreneurs who still want to apply! What can you tell us about the entrepreneurs who have applied so far? “The entrepreneurs who have applied so far are very enthusiastic and determined to become part of the top 40 ventures to be selected for the main DEMO 2014 event in Lagos, Nigeria. It seems the host country is leaving no stone unturned to ‘host and win’ this year’s DEMO Africa [...]

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6 reasons why Africa’s most innovative entrepreneurs should join DEMO Africa now

By Miguel Heilbron on June 4, 2014

Africa’s entrepreneurs have 10 days left to apply for DEMO Africa, the place where the continent’s most innovative entrepreneurs come together to launch their products (in Lagos, Nigeria this year!). Below some of DEMO Africa’s alumni share their updates and reasons why entrepreneurs across Africa should join. Ready to apply? Read more here, and fill in the application form before June 15th!

FAMISSIMA (DEMO Africa 2013 Alumni)

The team of Famissima, a Tunisian social platform connecting families to each other and to products and services they need, is currently in talks with multiple investors. Founder Ahlem Bouchahda shares: “DEMO Africa is a great opportunity! Don’t hesitate, we have much to do in Africa.”

TAXTIM (DEMO Africa 2012 Alumni)

TaxTim, an online tax app firm [...]

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Pivot East 2014 finalists announced: check out their videos & VC4Africa profiles

By Hilda Shema Kamali on June 2, 2014

Check out the Pivot East 2014 finalists below!  The 25 exceptional mobile startups from across the region will compete for market recognition and investor interest during the PIVOT East 2014 pitching conference that will be held on 24th – 25th June in Nairobi Kenya.

The startups were unveiled after an intense evaluation process by a panel involving over 20 investors. The 25 finalists, five from each category were selected from the fifty semifinalists announced three weeks ago. VC4Africa members were selected in all categories. Congratulations to them! See the links to their  VC4Africa venture profiles below and the full list of the Pivot 2014 finalists with a brief description [...]

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The exit strategy challenge – How to succeed as an entrepreneur in Africa

By Ndubuisi Ekekwe on May 30, 2014


This article by Ndubuisi Ekekwe originally appeared on Ventures Africa, a VC4Africa publishing partner.

“For entrepreneurs in developing nations, especially Africa, the exit strategy can be a challenge”, writes Ndubuisi Ekekwe. His solution: “incorporate your business in Europe or the U.S. and run it from your own country”. 

A few years ago, while I was a first-year Ph.D. student in the engineering school at Johns Hopkins University, I had a business idea. I had taken two excellent courses on microelectronics, and decided that I could build a business around them in my native Nigeria. As a college student in Nigeria, I had wanted to master developing microcontroller-based systems, but had never had the opportunity in practice, because no company there offered it. As the first [...]

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The technology ecosystem in Kampala, Uganda

By Dan Evans on May 28, 2014

Dan Evans of the Network Science Center at West Point (US) continues to discuss insights from his trips where he collects data on entrepreneurial ecosystems in various cities in Africa. Also see his previous posts on VC4Africa (introoverview and a post on Nairobi).

Kampala’s Tech Ecosystem

Kampala is a hotbed for young African tech entrepreneurs. The current government has set the conditions for economic growth and has encouraged the growth of small businesses. There are four business incubators in Kampala including Hive CoLab.

I visited Kampala to learn more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem through my collaboration with Jon Gosier, a software developer & co-founder of several organizations and initiatives some of which include AfriLabs, Appfrica, and Hive Colab.

Initially I met with Teddy Ruge, [...]

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