Africa is full of talent and with a population of 1 billion, it’s the next big thing in the market and growth of startups which have wide a niche to disrupt. The success of M-pesa in Kenya is an example, but the question still remains, why are startups failing in Africa. The following major reasons can be associated with the startups failure.
Many brilliant startups fail mostly due to finances which enable renting of space, communication expenses, legal fee payments, transport and proper market research. Market research is key in product development and value testing phase as per lean startup mode methodology is concerned. This leads to limited data for many startups hence making the wrong product mostly to get to the wrong market.
Space matters a lot, I appreciate ihub Kenya and other five incubation centres in Kenya for co-working space for the talented Kenyan developers. In addition the finances limit hiring of proper and veterans in technology who have the muscles to stir the idea to a company.
Many developers lack experience of building startups that transform to companies in Africa compared to Silicon Valley counterparts, this results to trial and error on the way forward, but with emerging accelerators in Africa, many experienced mentors are now moving in to help developers. In execution, I prefer African startups to try following lean startups methodology and do a lot of reverse engineering to fill and satisfy African problems and needs. African startups need to iterate and be ready to pivot on failure to the right niche, for instance Fab.com
No viable market
Africa is a vast market and as I said earlier it’s the next big thing in markets, it has full capacity and capability to develop. As a result many big muscled corporations have moved in. For a startup to grow to its full potential, competitors’ aggressiveness matters a lot, for instance, many developers build already existing products but have little muscles to compete big brands. In my opinion, I advise to build an existing product for a different geographical location or in the same place but more superior to fill existing gaps and in a unique way. Startups on new market ideas need to research well on the market even before the mvp is out. This saves a lot in the final product launch. But can clones work in Africa? I bet they can but our problems, capacity and capability are not the same. I need your opinion.
An idea is not a company unless it’s transformed by a team that’s eager to build and change the world just like Steve Jobs did. Apple’s success is through a dedicated team that’s executing to full potential. The team is key and even venture capitalist can easily fund a startup with an experienced team and successful founder with a previous startup than a brilliant idea built with inexperienced team. I advise startups to assembly a team that can fight a war to win but not to lose. I fear an army of sheep led by a lion than an army of lions commanded by a sheep. The founder needs to be visionary.
Okii Eli is a Tech, web developer and startups entrepreneur. He is currently an engineering student at JKUAT, Kenya