How will you exit your investments?
The seed fund space here is very much in the early days. I.4.A. has been very trigger happy in the first half of the year and now we aim to build and nurture these ventures, while keeping potential follow on investors abreast of our progress. We want to show institutional investors that there is a potential exit and return on their investments.
You interact with a lot of technology entrepreneurs in Kenya. Do you think they have what it takes?
Techies in Kenya are at par with those in India and Silicon Valley. The only issue that they don’t focus on is how to commercialise their innovations. They also tend to neglect the end user. Focusing on the end user ensures greater adoption. It is interesting that some of the most successful technology companies are founded by non-tech experts because they address these issues. Kenya’s technology entrepreneurs need to focus on their target market, testing theories and carrying out focus groups. People are ready to pay if you can show that they need your service. It is a no-brainer. In terms of creativity we are good. We just have to work on how to monetise our businesses.
Where do you see the industry in five years?
I expect to see more funds targeting startups, a lot of capital in the industry and entrepreneurs that have failed once or twice and are now hitting success. Failure is important as it teaches you what not to do and manages people’s expectations. The ride to the top is seldom smooth. As is demonstrated by the likes of Kamal Budhabhatti of Craft Silicon and John Waibochi of Virtual City – both currently running successful businesses and both having started them from scratch.
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