The journey started when we applied to the Growth Africa accelerator program 2017. Initially the application process looked a little complicated because it involved answering a few provided questions that clearly would explain what our startups were all about. I was lucky to be part of the Global ICT team that made it to the final list with ten other startups.
The final eleven startups were all expected to attend a five day boot camp that took place at the Innovations Village Ntinda – Kampala. After having gone through the interviews as individual startups, it was now time for the eleven of all the finalists to come together and open up to one another as we exhaustively revisited our startup purposes, visions and missions in a much broader way.
Being new to other members from other startups, day one was about introduction of both the growth Africa team and the particular startup team members that were present. At this stage we hardly knew what we were getting into hence the mixed feelings of excitement and curiosity poised on our faces. Unlike the usual introduction process of your name and the company we work for being narrated individually, this time round we were put in pairs and we were supposed to introduce our teammates within our different pairs. This made it very easy to create the team spirit within our pairs on the first day. I must say it was an exciting experience to get the journey started.
Despite all the things we had been told on the first day, we all still knew we had come to the boot camp for one major reason, you guessed right, we wanted to get access to investors who would invest in our startups and we grow. Sometimes it’s a very common thing with entrepreneurs to think that all we need to have our startups grow is MONEY. We were no unique to this kind of sentiment about money and startups until we realized that we actually had a lot of gaps within our organizations that would still curtail the growth of the startup even if we had been given money that day.
Take it or not, money is not the only factor you need to grow, for a moment sit down and ask yourself these questions before we continue;
1.What is the purpose of our startup business?
2.What is our vision both external and internal?
3.What is our mission and how do we intend to achieve it?
4.Who is our intended customers and where are they located currently?
5.How will our start up make money to be sustainable for growth?
Just to mention but a few questions, I am very sure many of us that have started business or intended to start a business have asked a few of those questions during the startup infant stages. I am not quite sure those questions were fully answered well but I must emphasize that the Growth Africa program prepared us to be able to deeply answer the above questions exhaustively. This was done through the Business Model Map and Business Compass Model sessions. Within the business model map were able to fully focus on the following;
· Understanding the underlying need of our startup and how this connects with our purpose and impact.
· Understanding the value proposition of our startups and establishing how well the value that is being propositioned is.
· Fully understanding our product/service, customers and users, how we intend to market and promote our products so as to be able to reach our targeted consumers.
· Deep focus on segmentation, branding, competitive situation, external realities, production process and the supply chain.
Quite often startups can fail to grow or succeed as a result of poor leadership. The growth and success of any organization is directly correlated to their leadership style and organizational culture. While at the boot camp, Growth Africa invited many renowned business leaders and local investors to closely share with the cohorts on the aspects of leadership as founders and also as individuals that want to build teams. The program will also contain a number of growth Labs that will tackle different aspects of our businesses. I now know that this program is far more important to the lives of business founders and the growth of our startups. I am excited for what is yet to come in the coming six months.
By Mwebya Fred