You wake up one morning with a brilliant idea, and on paper for sure it has the potential to change the world or better yet be a great source of income. Perhaps you are just a basic app developer who can breathe life into a great mobile application, but you neither have any funds nor any marketing skills. You decide to pitch the idea to your colleagues (most likely fellow app developers) team up and finally kick off your small start-up company. Unfortunately this seems to be the norm of most of our technology start-up companies in Africa. Several things are missed at the conception of a tech start-up, and most of their products end up failing to see the day of light or are not sustainable. There are very many questions you have to ask yourself, but the five questions below are probably the most paramount in order to overcome failure.
What’s my business model?
Most of the tech start-ups are not founded by the hard-core business minded fellas or visionaries and that’s where the problems start. So your new app or product could be good on paper, but you have to ask yourself what your business model will be. After spending time with few start-ups, I found out that one of the most common causes of failure in the startup world is that entrepreneurs are too optimistic about how easy it will be to acquire customers. There is always the assumption that because they will build an interesting app, website, product, or service, customers will line up in anticipation for them. You need to balance between the coast of customer acquisition and the lifetime value of a customer.
What Technology/Product do I want do deploy?
Another major reason that start-ups in Africa likely fail is because they fail to develop a product that meets the market need. It sucks when you have a great concept and fail to deliver the final product as planned. It could be a good implementation like a great app which may end up failing on the Design, User Interface or User Experience. I have found this as a common problem with locally made apps made by several start-up app developers. Seriously guys you need to step your game in terms of design. It sucks!! This can either be due to simple execution. Or it can be a far more strategic problem, which is a failure to achieve product/market fit. It is common that most of the time the initial products that a startup brings to market won’t meet the market needed. In the best cases, it will take a few revisions to get the product/market fit right.
Who will fund my start-up?
A key job of the start-up founder/visionary is to realize how to fund the idea, they also need to know how much cash is left and whether that will carry the young company to a milestone that can lead to successful financing, or to cash flow positive. Africa doesn’t have many crowd sourcing sites like Indiegogo, so the pressure is on to get the funds elsewhere. We has sites startupafricafund but am personally not farmiliar with them but I believe they have a similar concept like Indiegogo. Most tech-start ups therefore resort to entering competitions like Seedstars and Pivot East, to pitch their ideas — this is a great idea — but what I have come to realize is that most who have not won the competition become demotivated. We’ve also seen big software giants like Microsoft step in to make African tech start-ups in colleges realize their dreams with the Microsoft Image Cup. To get more pointers, it would be a good idea to join an incubation hub if that kind of thing works for you. Thanks to Dignited here is a list of most tech incubation hubs in Africa.
What’s the competence of my Team?
An incredibly common problem that causes startups to fail is an incompetent team. A great team should have knowledgeable members and good managers. The team should be able to swiftly answer the above questions mentioned. So you have to know the level of competence of your team and whether they will be able to led you to your goal. You should have a strong strategic team that will be able to execute correctly or on time, and know the go-to market with the right product implementation.
What’s my target market?
This ties in mostly with the product or concept idea you have. A major reason why start-ups fail, is that they don’t foresee the issue of their being little or no market for their new product. You should have an idea of the expected market size, and in return have enough funds to run the project to initial launch or making the prototype of your product. As a tech start-up always make sure your ideas are ahead of your market by a few years.
Image Credit idgconnect.com