Last weekend I attended the the Tshimologong Bootcamp. The bootcamp aimed to get us entrepreneurs to take the next steps in our business, starting with a solid foundation on linking value proposition to customers. There is so much to process, but here are some lessons:
South African’s have some seriously good ideas
I have long argued that the problem with entrepreneurship in South Africa is a “supply issue”, in the sense that we do not have enough people starting up. Over the weekend I met lots of really impressive entrepreneurs with impressive ideas, and many already had customers. But, many were in that awkward stage were they (and me) are a little tentative.
I found a couple of developments in the broader startup ecosystem really interesting. These include:
- GroundFlr – Ground Flr is a game changer in the startup space. We improve the chance of startup funding by broadening the search for capital. Its now free to search for funding anywhere in the world. Our freemium service also gives startups the option of requesting a warm intro to an investor of their choice.
- Venture Network – They hosts pitch nights and themed startup talks. Membership to our community is FREE.
- Lots of venture capitalist. Over the two days, there were many venture capitalists in attendance as mentors and advisers. I found this incredibly interesting.
In short, an ecosystem is developing that might make it easier for entrepreneurs to startup and eventually scaleup.
I decided to sit while the rest of the group collectively read out an entrepreneurial manifesto. I was not being difficult, but I honestly could not bring myself to participate. The nice bit was that no one was really phased by it. Live continued. Imagine doing that in a political party or a trade union – I can tell you the consequences are harsher.
I sate myself a goal for the end of the weekend to test if companies were interested in running promotions on ZApreneur. Over the weekend I emailed 15 people, got two coupon codes (exclusive to ZApreneur) and a commitment from three more companies. If you interested, just send me an email using this form.
Complex Business Models Need Visuals
Some of the business models were incredibly complex. The facilitator used the Business Model Canvas and things got a lot clearer, a lot more quickly. I had tried this process before, and I found the exercises extremely interesting.
Rules (are meant to be broken)
One of the mentors (Anthony Nathan from Tmara) gave us a talk on rules and how important it is to break them. I am not certain if I followed all of it, but what I learned was this:
- Innovation removes a limitation
- Market must adopt a new rules
Which I summarised as: Create value if it solves something, but only matters if people use it. If people value it, it might be disruptive. But, to make people adopt the new rules, you need to provide a minimal value guarantee. That is a however a very inadequate summary of the ideas. You can check out the full idea here on YouTube.
Tiny Little Ideas
At the end of the two days, we had a presentation by Ken Beck.Let me admit this I had no clue who this guy was, and why he was given celebrity treatment. But, the talk was incredibly useful and inspiring. It validated what I have been learning- test ideas and see what happens. The central message was that you needed to test (he said) kill your ideas in the shortage time possible. After the input I had a greater appreciation for this dude, called Ken Beck. Here is a link to his previous presentation at Tshimologong. It is long but very worthwhile presentation.
The most important learning for me was to reinforce the idea is that as long as you learning you are making progress. The trick is to do that learning systematically and quickly (and without going broke!). If you can do that you and your business might actually have a value proposition that solve a real problem. That is a fancy way to say, it is time to test the next aspect of the business. For me that means making some decisions on ZApreneur, based not on theory but on learning from what my customers tell me.
(Huge thanks to the Tshimologing team).