"Ma3route" entrepreneurs are in talks with investors like IBM who want to solve the traffic congestion problem in Nairobi City. The application crowd-sources for traffic and transport information from locals in order to provide users with up-to-date information on what quick routes they should use.
During their pitch at Pivot East, they announced that Capital FM and Kiss FM radio stations based in Nairobi pull traffic information from their application to their listeners on traffic.
Like IBM, Venture capitalists and seed funders find traction in clear business stories from start up applications and turn them into winners. Entrepreneurs should not only ask for money when they pitch their ideas but also make the investor feel like he/she is part of the business opportunity being presented.
During a fireside chat on the second day of Pivot East 2013 in Uganda, panelists were concerned with the ratio of business-oriented partners to that of developers among the teams that presented. "Strength and balance of teams is a major issue for invest-ability among regional startups", noted Isis Nyong'o, one of the panelists at Pivot East 2013. Which if addressed will help startup teams focus more on business to business spaces where opportunity exists rather than the mass consumer markets.
Agatha Gikunda, Intel Software Services Lead East Africa says one of the reasons investors consider participating in conferences such as Pivot East is that the main difference between this year's competition and the previous years' is its focus on start-ups becoming sustainable enterprises as opposed to merely showcasing mobile applications and their mobile developers.
Pivot East essentially facilitates the discovery of the next wave of high potential mobile start-ups, and Intel is working with local start-ups, ISVs and developers to help raise the quality of mobile startups in the region, which in the long term should improve their investability.
"A lot of what we see as problems in the invest-ability debate are actually opportunities", says Ed Sminett, an investor from Prince Street, San Francisco, California. This will influence the next technology evolution to be very organic, as seed capital and angel financing begin to check in.
Entrepreneurs need to stop standing up the pulpit and proclaiming that they are CEOs or whatever titles they hold. "There's a lot of tech individuals insisting on holding CEO positions in their startups when it's not ideal", says Erik Hersman, the co-Founder of Ushahidi. They should drop these titles and go beyond the mobile to scale their business ideas.
Intel is investing in developing core curriculum that has current relevance, in colleges not just the few Universities that absorb less than 20% of the workforce. The company has created OpenCourseWare on cutting edge topics and we work with lecturers to enable them to use our materials to build their own locally relevant courses, and install software incubators enabling students to develop innovative projects and solutions on Intel hardware and technologies, with consulting help.
Gikunda says one way entrepreneurs can make things work, is to choose a venture firm in which the partners have a track record of success in the market being targeted. In order to drive innovation, Intel understands that is imperative to create a regional environment ripe for entrepreneurship and risk taking that allows East African Software Developers to be internationally competitive in a global exchange of ideas and innovation.
"We are currently working with University of Nairobi and Strathmore to implement this setup. These facilities will be open for use by students from other universities, and we will enable cloud access for remote developers within the East African Community", concludes Gikunda.