It has been an eventful six months in the Silicon Savannah, with many initiatives that show clearly we are on the right track toward ecosystem maturity, having learnt slowly but surely what is our unique blend , as opposed to outright copy pasting of models from other regions. Establishing the Silicon Savannah, can be viewed through startup stained glass, with time to product taking longer than scheduled, capital requirements far exceeding estimates, matters talent and culture throwing us off balance and a real threat of getting stuck in a perpetual hype cycle which would in the long term lead implode.
The just concluded DemoAfrica 2013 technology launch pad the Safaricom App Challenge in which I played pivotal roles in has cemented my belief that we are refining our process and are well on the way to being net creators of exportable value. On the DemoAfrica front, the cohort from the first edition have gone on to create $ 8 million of value from direct investments, business and partnerships. That value is not generated by hype but by promise and delivering on that return that many investors are seeing. This year’s cohort are already primed to surpass expectations with impressive service and product lines that saw a number shake hands and sign on the dotted line with new customers and investors. The Safaricom App Whiz Challenge was launched against a backdrop of negative chatter on the number and quality of hackathons that seldom saw sustained progress or traction by eventual winners. Safaricom in conjunction with partners, engaged differently by having a much longer and measured production pipeline that saw those shortlisted in the run to bagging the Ksh .1.5 winner’s purse, taken through an incubation process that even saw some teams pivot their services and others take up entirely new ideas after additional research and mentorship.
At these two events, some companies stood out for me. From the DemoAfrica cohort; Fairwaves which makes low cost easy to deploy base station that hold promise for connectivity in rural Africa , Able Wireless with a bundled internet and streaming service solution that almost laughs in the face of the once again postponed digital migration, Eduze, Chamasoft and Eventtus. On the Safaricom Challenge front it was M-ledger with their well thought out user experience and billing model for a mobile money utility.
Our quality is getting better, our markets larger, our talent improving, our ideas practical and our capital responsive.