Kresten Buch, a Danish web entrepreneur turned investor, brought the accelerator model to Sub Saharan Africa nearly 3 years ago and to date has invested over $3million.
1. How many startups do you have in your business portfolio? 35
2. What are the most interesting ideas associated with these startups?
Ideas give some insight into the entrepreneurs behind them, but they are interesting, too. Experimenting, selling, building, being wrong, being right, hanging in by the skin of your teeth. These things are interesting, and the more audacious each endeavor is, the more interesting is the startup. So far, the startup teams that have been most prone to this extreme entrepreneurial behaviour are Ghafla (entertainment news), Hivisasa (hyper-local news), Mdundo (music), Booknow (bus tickets), Apex Peak (SME finance), 8Bit (ad network), and Ekaya (rental property).
3. What can your Business Incubator offer to entrepreneurs?
Pressure, peer-to-peer interaction and support, brutal honesty about the business, its progress and the startup team, networks with the right people to get things done faster, helping to concentrate on what matters and focus on getting the basics right. We also have lots of fun.
4. What are the most attractive African countries for your investments in online projects?
Right now, a lot of the great tech talent seems to come from South Africa. We are starting to invest in Nigeria from August this year, because from an entrepreneurial and market perspective, it’s very attractive, but we have yet to see what challenges may exist, so I can’t say for certain yet. Kenya has some infrastructural assets that make building startups there very interesting. Haven’t been able to observe the other markets yet.
5. What criteria do you use on selecting projects (startups)?
We don’t have any set criteria and when we do, it usually gets thrown out of the window at some point anyway. We generally start with the people and take it from there. Market, progress, scalability, etc.
6. How do you consider the possible risks?
Of what? Investing? Africa? Zuckerberg said: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” He’s probably right.
7. At what pace are internet technologies spread across Africa?
Phones and access to information is growing at an astounding pace across Africa. However, for more advanced products and services, it’s still quite slow uptake, it’s not just access to phones and airtime that determines how technology spreads, it’s attitudes and social behaviour that need to adapt, marketing and sometimes physical infrastructure that needs to be in place, as well as the time it takes to build experience and skills needed to make companies that can grow. Though, it will come probably faster than anyone realizes.
8. What are the development prospects and problems of online projects in Africa?
Please see above (7)
9. In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a successful Internet project in Africa?
Like anywhere, does it solve a problem, will people pay for it, can it make profit, ensuring it can grow, scale, and solve more problems?
I think the only difference in Africa is that it’s necessary to focus on revenue quite early, as growing takes longer, and financing isn’t readily available, even for the best ideas.
Website: http://www. 88mph.ac