Often time’s success in business for an entrepreneur is about being in the right place at the right time, with the right product in a decent enough state while for an investor it is about seeing beyond the obvious and knowing ones strength. Why I choose to say “decent enough” is that in technology, a product or service is never quite done and it exists a constant state of flux. Notwithstanding, technology entrepreneurs have borne the brunt of a market onslaught by what they would term, subjectively so, as an inferior offering. At a time when barriers to entry in disruptive spaces are lower than ever, those interested in technology differentiated businesses must view opportunities from a different set of strategic lenses to maximize on their return on sweat and capital.
The following three use cases provide a good analytical start point.
Sendy took a tangent with their boda-boda opportunity while the market was excited about Uber and closed on a healthy pot of gold that saw Safaricom participate in their capital raise. To the keen eye, the interest by the mobile network operator is obvious, Mpesa has reached P2P saturation and the mobile commerce retail play is where the action is. They already have the payments locked down and they can very easily increase their revenues by having consumers ditch cash and plastic. The one thing standing in the way of a wholistic solution is, logistics which they now have by way of Sendy. Major retailers have ecommerce and “kiosk” plans underway and Sendy stand to reap from the execution of those plans making a quick and easy return for their investors.
BitPesa invested time educating users on a fairly technical piece of technology built off the block chain and are arguably the continental leaders in what is the future of money movement. Safaricom did not take kindly to them…did they present competition or does the mobile network operator have its own product in the pipeline? Only time will tell. Bitpesa, did not waste time fighting but instead shifted base and focus to West Africa. If you thought they were pushing volumes on Mpesa you would go green with envy at what they are processing while powering trade between Nigerian merchants and Chinese producers. Financial infrastructure service provider, Interswitch from Nigeria also came calling to East Africa…see what might happen long term?
The Angani duo, coming from their boardroom battles easily fire off a new outfit – Node Africa that could be arguably better in all aspects, with lessons from the trenches well taken and a renewed vigor to take things head on. They seeded the cloud opportunity in a way that most understood it and there was both capital and talent waiting at the fringes.
Venture Capital for Africa, self-proclaimed as the largest community of entrepreneurs and money men on the continent, is brimming with potential for those who can build value, marry technology to the marketplace, have a good feel for local dynamics and perhaps most importantly have access to key networks in sectors that matter. It may be impossible to manifest all these as a person or team so the next best thing is to forge partnerships that deliver the mix and in essence create your own luck.