There is an interesting air about Nairobi; the sort that comes with renewed focus in a region; the sort that once you see, you can be sure there is money not far behind. It’s been an exciting past couple of months with entrepreneurial Kenyans going all out to create products and services that leverage mobile technology. The latest poster child of this movement and its subsequent success is Mr. John Waibochi whose firm Virtual City bagged the USD 1million in the Nokia Growth Venture Challenge.
Recently a new competition has hit the local techspace seeking to prove that innovative mobile services can be built with minimal capital outlay and over one weekend to boot. Dubbed Ipo48, the event will take place on the last week of October in Nairobi. The take out, for the would be winner is a Ksh. 1 million cash prize. I see this sort of events and forums becoming a common feature going forward in the local tech space as education and access to capital adapt to address growing market needs.
The truth is however that we much churn out numerous products and services if we are to reach the position that we so covet, that of the Silicon Valley for Africa. On the ground in the “real” Silicon Valley, it may not be uncommon to hear it termed as the place where ideas go to die as opposed to what many may think. While we celebrate the successes, we must also take note of the many ideas that fall on the wayside whether from lack of capital, poor business models, or poor execution. While the tendency is to analyze the successes, the result is more often than not, duplicative, which I feel does not auger well for the industry, especially so if we are to see continued innovation.
However if we also studied and showcased how not to rollout services, the benefits from these learning’s would be immense and result in differentiated thinking across service and product development, business modeling and service rollout. The end result will be an increase in the number of success stories that will sell our skill sets as a nation and attract even more capital funding, that has in the past proven to be elusive.
Here’s to celebrating our successes and learning from our mistakes.