I have had the honor of experiencing the start-up lifecycle as an employee, entrepreneur and mentor over the past twelve years of being immersed in the tech industry. Having been commissioned in the not too distant past to carry out a inter-ministry research dubbed “State of the Ministries ” that looked into the state of preparedness of government to take services closer to the people using web and mobile technology across ten key ministries, I couldn’t help but look at the government as a tech start-up and see what it has going for or against it.
Government has arguably the single largest addressable market by simply being itself with an eager base of potential customers who will readily latch onto a service, and pay for it if it delivers value. Not many start-ups have such a clear line of sight to consumer wallets.
Access to “venture capital” or other forms of capital financing can be perceived as a walk in the park, what with President Uhuru closing a Sh.425 billion facility with the Chinese government akin to a start-up raising money without a proof of concept or prototype. Raising capital for local start-ups is still a difficult process affected by many factors.
For disruptive game changing service deployments to happen, sometimes one has to grapple with the issue of restrictive legislation. Government has a fast track process (es) that can remove any legal or constitutional bottlenecks to provide reprieve or runway that will drive service and business model uptake. Many start-ups wish they had a magic wand.
The government can be viewed in the start-up eyes of doing too much at one go. Instead of focusing on minimum viable products say across it ministries, it is going all guns blazing for the full feature set of services that will take time and capital before giving a return. It is important for a start-up to think monetization and sustainability from the get go.
The build vs buy conundrum plagues government as it is more inclined to buy rather than build its platforms. If a start-up is to fully actualize the value of what it has created, it cannot base its core on the technology of a another company. If government could hunker down and build its own solutions, then it could easily export the same with a handsome return on deployment and IP, not to mention the attendant job creation.
Both lists are by no means exhaustive, but I would much rather see the government employ a start-up mind set and leverage the good that its position makes possible to deliver quick sustainable wins on the back of the technological prowess that the Silicon Savannah has been angled as.