Building of a technology based business is more than having an idea marathon and selecting the winner for market preparedness and eventual launch. I am disappointed by the fact that entrepreneurship, especially so in the technology space in Kenya and Africa at large has been glamorized to the extent that the purported glitz, linked to the numerous silicon valley exits and venture rounds is blinding many from the realities of heading into the trenches and getting their hands dirty building products or services that address real market needs, sell and constitute a real business.
A recent personal dissection of what ails local tech businesses or entrepreneurs, if the previously mentioned glitz is down played, revealed two key areas that are seeing less than stellar creations by way of solutions birthed at the numerous labs and hubs around Africa.
The first is a lack of mastery and deep competency along one’s chosen line. Mastery starts with a choice; a choice on what to focus on followed by study – not of the academic kind but a self paced drilldown of what forms the core of the technology coupled with lots of experimentation, whose desired effect is to produce the elusive eureka moment. Mastery would for example mean that as a company or a developer, you choose one (or a minimal set of ) databases, languages or tools as the base for which to build on. As you will be in the business of providing solutions and not technology you will know the pros and cons of each while at the same time be fully aware of how to tweak either your hardware or software for maximum output. The common trend that we see is that many developers being a jack of all technologies, having a top line understanding of various technologies but lacking the depth that is required to build truly robust and scalable platforms.
The second issue is that of process. Process ensures consistent results and every technology company must distill its process, often over time to arrive at a “production line” mentality that will ensure world-class output every time. The communication of your process to potential clients will also help them understand the value and thinking that you bring and the implications of occurrences such as scope and feature creep. There are a number of development processes and methodologies that have since gained popularity across the globe and the challenge is for one to adapt or mix and match these to suit their optimized production environment.
While addressing these two is not a gate pass to success of the products or services to which they are applied, it does increase that probability by several factors. And that after all is what we need if we are to truly stake our claim on the global market place and put to rest the rising voices that keep shouting hype, hype hype at the Silicon Savannah, Silicon Cape and other initiatives that are seeking to nurture techpreneurs.