All posts tagged Incubator

microsoft

Microsoft Q&A Session At DEMO Africa

At DEMO Africa, Microsoft Corp  announced a strategic cooperation agreements with three incubator organizations including:  CcHUB in Nigeria, DTBiin Tanzania and AfriLabs, the pan-African hub network, across the African continent to enable startups, innovators and Africa’s developer community to grow their skills and build businesses with Microsoft technologies.

More on the agreement can be found here, but an interest Q&A session followed after and can be read below:

Q: Can incubator organizations across Africa apply to be part of this program?
A: Any interested incubator is welcome to reach out to us directly via africa@microsoft.com.

Q: How much is Microsoft spending on this investment?
A: We are not disclosing a specific dollar amount, but it suffices to say that Microsoft is deeply invested in developing highly impactful programs for the African youth and SMEs through these collaborations.

Q: How does this partnership map to the all up 4Afrika Initiative goals?
A: Microsoft 4Afrika is focused on helping accelerate economic development and improve competitiveness in Africa. By working with these technology hubs and incubation centers, we are supporting the growth of African SMEs through access to technology, skills development and Microsoft experts, and by helping those with truly competitive solutions to scale the world via the Microsoft Store.

Q: How did you decide on these three organizations? Was there an application process?
A: These three organizations are best-in-class incubators and hubs, all of which had expressed interest in developing programs with Microsoft to empower their developers & startups. There was no formal application process, but we certainly did our due diligence to confirm that all three were doing fantastic work with startups and SMEs in their communities. And because it is essentially a network organization, partnering with AfriLabs was a great way for us to support requests coming from across the continent, and scale as far as possible to reach as many African startups and SMEs as possible.

Q: Do the organizations have to pay anything to receive Microsoft’s support?
A: No

Q: How does this program compare with the Microsoft Ventures partnership program?
A: The Microsoft Ventures program is targeting accelerators and will be supporting in a deeper engagement the startups hosted there. These collaborations are targeting technology hubs and incubators and supporting the breadth developer and startup community.

BONUS: Microsoft Enters Into Cooperation Agreements To Accelerate African Innovation 

A Look At Co-Creation Hub’s New Startup Work Space

Co-creation hub (CcHub) Nigeria officially opened the doors to it’s new office space for startups on Monday, July 1, 2013. The new office space, located on the ground floor of the CcHub building, will be the work space for seven startups: Budgit, Efiko, Traclist, Maliyo Games, Genii Games, Jobs In Nigeria and Wecyclers, all of which have their names on the door and started working out of the space immediately.

In a chat with Tunji Eleso, Pre-Incubation and Research Lead for CcHub, he says,

“We decided to open the ground floor today and it’s an extension of our work to provide individuals to access resources that they primarily won’t have access to. The ground floor is meant to serve as a place where some of the ventures we supported through incubation for the last 12-18 months can get a different environment; where they can grow their revenues and work in a more comfortable and office type setting; where they can get resources and the kind of partnership that is required for their businesses.”

“It’s different from what we have on the 6th floor, because we discovered they’ve gotten to a certain extent in figuring out their business models, so we open the ground floor to help them achieve it. We moved seven of the startups we are supporting down to the ground floor.”

CcHub is Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space and has been featured on foreign media platforms like CNN and Mashable, among others. The social innovation centre has served as a working space for many ventures and has facilitated the birth of some of Nigeria’s finest startups.

The sixth floor of CcHub is still open for membership. For more information on how to join, send a mail to info@cchubnigeria.com.

About CcHub

CcHUB is Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space designed to be a multi-functional, multi-purpose space where work to catalyze creative social tech ventures take place. The HUB is a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers in and around Lagos to co-create new solutions to the many social problems in Nigeria.

5 Things You Should Know About iDEA Hub

Editor’s Note: Taking it’s place from the only place techies considered a hub for a very long time – the CcHub, iDEA hub sits to welcome innovators, developers, and entrepreneurs explore resource made available. Here are five things you should know:

1. What’s the iDEA Hub as you would tell a layman?

The iDEA centre is a place where people who are interested in starting or growing a business developing software applications or a business which uses software applications can come and get support. The centre provides a complete work environment, administrative and business support, business and technical skills, mentoring and access to finance.

2. What’s the point of having the iDEA Hub – to Nigeria, the tech ecosystem and other benefactors if any?

The Nigerian internet market is young and growing. There is a huge potential for software applications, particularly mobile applications (for the majority of Nigerians, mobile will be their first experience of the internet). The iDEA centres are part of a bigger scheme to encourage the development of a local software industry. Software production and development is recognized to contribute to structural transformation, learning and innovation, job creation and export revenues.

According to the GSMA Association, Nigeria is in the top 10 mobile markets in the world in terms of the number of subscribers, has a relatively low internet penetration rate, with people who are highly entrepreneurial. This presents a challenge but also a huge opportunity for software (mobile and desktop) based services and products which are adapted to our local context.

Nigerian developers need to rise up to this challenge and grab the opportunity it presents, not only by developing locally relevant applications, but also by developing applications which have global appeal. The iDEA centres are key to this effort. For technological innovation to be meaningful, it has to be driven locally. The centres will serve as hubs of innovation to spur innovation of products, services and business models. The centres will provide physical space, shared facilities, counseling, training and information specific to software development, with access to finance and technical support services in one integrated and affordable package. Such support will help strengthen business start-ups by reducing initial costs and delays, and reduce the chances of failure.

The programme will employ the use of software development platforms to grow content, services and applications. It will specifically seek to stimulate innovation in the area of Software Development with primary focus on:

• Linguistic Software

• Custom Programming

• Mobile Software/Application Development

• Business Intelligence

3. What does it take to be part of the iDEA Hub and what value proposition are there to different target groups?

Software Entrepreneurs have a wide variety of needs. A tiered membership scheme allows the centres to adopt service offerings for different segments. Members at different levels are selected through a competitive application and due diligence process.

Depending on the level of membership, potential members may be required to be interviewed in person. The interviews would be executed by the Advisory Board and Incubator Management.

Incubatees comprise the most elite level of membership. To be eligible for inclusion in this category, members must be pursuing a new business venture. Once offered status as an ‘Incubatee’, they will be included as participants in the incubation program. Incubatees can be selected from Residential and Affiliated members, following an application process.

Residential Members make up the second level of membership. Members included in this category may not yet be eligible for the incubation program, or they may not be interested in participating in the full extent of the formalized program. Instead, they are motivated by access to office space, value chain partners and networking opportunities. Being in-residence also allows access to certain other services, as determined by the centre management. Residential Members can be selected from the pool of Virtual Members.

Affiliates comprise the third membership tier. This category includes members who do not need access to office space (i.e. they are working remotely). Similar to Residential Members, they may not be interested in participating in the full extent of the formalized incubation program or they may not be eligible. Rather, they are primarily motivated by access to networking opportunities, either in-person or online, and by access to training. These members are also eligible to be hired to staff consulting projects and participate inearn your own seed capital type programs. Affiliated Members can also be selected from the pool of Virtual Members.

Virtual Members are the most broad-based tier of membership. Access to this tier can be provided at a modest membership fee. This category provides an initial point of entry for individuals interested in becoming affiliated with the Centre and requires minimal vetting by Centre management.

The Centres will target the following classes of people:

Students

Stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship must start at the early levels of society. The Programme will engage the student community as a primary target group. Students will benefit from getting involved in many activities organized by the Centres and should attend low or no cost technical training at the Centres.

Start Ups

The Centres should help address the typical barriers to success – the lack of access to funding; the costs associated with acquiring technology, knowledge and expertise; and the limited ability to obtain broad exposure for their creations and innovations. Likewise, start-ups will be a primary target group for the Programme – the core objective being to stimulate local industry growth and employment by helping accelerate the success of technology entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups.

Software Development Companies

The Centres will engage with established local software development companies to build new innovations or assist in bridging the gaps preventing the companies from fully exploiting and commercializing existing innovations

4. In the larger scheme of things, what are the plans of the iDEA Hub to accomplish its mission and get closer to its vision?

The fundamental driver of the programme is to act as an enabler towards creating a strong local software economy and to build growth oriented companies with impact on employment in the ICT sector.

The iDEA programme exists within a wider ecosystem and in order to achieve its objectives, the programme will look towards partnering with various stakeholders such as technology partners, public sector partners/policy makers, investors and training providers (including universities). For example, technology companies will play a significant role in the programme since they are among the major beneficiaries of the talent pool represented in the incubator. It is reasonable to expect the technology companies to provide support for these early stage companies in the form of training, channel distribution agreements, equipment and customer introductions and provide assets such as software and curriculum. We have a number of technology companies represented on the board and we expect them to actively contribute to strategy and execution and help generate a critical mass of activity at the centres.

iDEA is also discussing with a number of banks with the aim of collaborating to stimulate entrepreneurial activity by offering attractive financing schemes or leveraging existing offerings for start-ups.

The programme will seek to build relationships with key tertiary institutions and the NUC. The scope of such cooperation will be focused on ensuring that there is a pipeline for the centres and that students are fully engaged in the Programme through organisation of events and competitions on campus and, longer term, by embedding relevant content into the curriculum.

5. Who’s behind the iDEA Hub?

iDEA was funded by a grant from NITDA as a not–for–profit organization. It has a 10 member governing board chaired by Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman, with the vice-chair being Mr Pius Okigbo. iDEA is being supported by Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Blackberry, Intel, Main One and a number of other local and foreign companies.

Safe to say that’s all you really need to know about the iDEA Hub, but then again if you have any inquiry or want us to get clarification on anything, do feel to use the comment box below and we’d get right on it.

wennovate

Wennovation Hub Wins Big At SAP/Ashoka Global Competition

Nigerian business incubator Wennovation Hub, operated by LoftyInc Allied Partners Ltd,  was among the four winners in the SAP global entrepreneurship competition, emerging as a winner in the ‘Power of Small’ category.

SAP announced the four winners of the global entrepreneurs hub competition. “The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies”, today.  They were selected for their excellence in helping emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses in undeserved communities grow and thrive.

Each organization will receive USD10,000, a technology donation and promotion and networking opportunities with SAP executives and customers at SAPPHIRE® NOW + SAP® TechEd, being held as a co-located event in Madrid from November 13-16 2012.

LoftyInc’s Executive Partner and Co-Founder Michael Oluwagbemi,  indicated that the Wennovation Hub will “ in the next 12 months, use the new resources this prize has afford us to pursue the Wennovation Hunt: our new Ideas to Incubation Inter-Collegiate challenge set to launch in 2013. The Virtual Incubation Platform on wennovationhub.org will also benefit from SAP’s technology package allowing us to impact more entrepreneurs beyond Lagos through the VIP.

To learn about our work, visit Wennovation Hub’s Changeshop and share with your friends. From all of us at OTEKBITS, we say congratulations.

changemaker

#Wennovation Hub Emerges as a SAP / Ashoka Global Competition Finalist

The Wennovation Hub Initiative, a grooming place for start-ups and Entrepreneurs located in Ikeja Lagos has emerged as a finalist in the SAP/Ashoka “The Power of Small Competition”. This is a competition for Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies. Over 370 innovations were submitted globally and Wennovation Hub made the list of the 11 finalists selected based on a voting system by the public. These 370 innovations focus on tackling various issues around innovation and entrepreneurship.

As a finalist, Wennovation Hub is “being honored for outstanding demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability” according to a Press Release by the Ashoka Changemaker organizers.

The Wennovation Hub has also been invited to participate in the SAPPHIRE NOW event organized by SAP in Madrid from November 13-16, 2012.  Idris Bello, the Program Director, will be showcasing the power of Wennovation’s innovative model for powering start-ups in Frontier Markets. This model of “Product to Commercialization” has yielded six portfolio companies in the past year, three of which were funded by outside investors, and four of which are in full operations today.

The four finalists with the highest number of online votes will be announced as winners at the SAPPHIRE NOW event in Madrid. So, it is time to support our own. Visit changemakers.com/powerofsmall to vote for Wennovation Hub now. The voting is done by clicking the check icon next to the entry and  Login into your Facebook Account to add your vote.

What are you waiting for? Join us in voting for Wennovation Hub now.

7794228138_2665647ba0_z

Apply Now For Nokia And CcHub’s Growth Academy: Accelerating Next Gen Tech Start-ups

Leading phone manufacturing company, Nokia in partnership with foremost social innovation centre in Nigeria, Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) has embarked on the second edition of an academy program called ‘Nokia/CCHub Growth Academy’ aimed at accelerating top Nigerian mobile software companies in growing their companies on regional and international levels.

Having successfully completed a pilot, the Growth Academy is now receiving applications for this first of its kind business accelerator programme in Africa dedicated to providing intensive continuous hands-on support to help early stage mobile technology start-ups grow into high growth businesses and build world class mobile applications for the Nokia platform regionally and globally.

The three (3) month intensive program runs in three parts i.e. Capacity building, Product development and Launch. Each start-up undergoes hands-on prototype development and structured training with modules such as business model development, project implementation plan and lean product development. Tailored technical training and support will be provided by Futurice, a global training organization with expertise in mobile application development and user driven design.

During product development each start-up is complemented with the best of resources i.e. one-on-one mentorship from experienced tech entrepreneurs with a strong understanding of the African market, project implementation plan; and market research support to ensure that solutions meet specific market needs.

The last phase of the programme is dedicated to product testing, pilot launch and value redesign based on initial customer feedback. Each start-up will also pitch at an open Pitchfest to the wider community and investors as part of the final product launch.

To apply, visit growthacademy.org; applications close by 6pm on October 3rd 2012. Ten (10) start-ups will be recruited into program which culminates in a formal launch of the mobile apps on the Nokia store.

What makes you eligible?

  • Start-ups with brilliant ideas to address market needs in finance, education, healthcare, agriculture, small business development, environment, inclusive technology, entertainment.
  • Have developed a working prototype in Java ME (J2ME)
  • Have at least 2 core members, including a lead developer
  • Be willing to commit 3 full months to developing their idea on the program

For more information, email info@growthacademy.org or call 234.1.2950555.

jigsaw

Everyone Is Talking About Funding…But Is That The Only Missing Link?

Have you ever had a discussion with a developer and / or startup founder without the issue of funding coming out? Yes…it has virtually become a slogan now. “The reason why I have not been able to launch that product is lack of funding”.

Everybody seems to believe that lack of funding is the reason why we don’t have many success stories in the country. Well…this may be one of the reasons, but is it the actual problem? Is it the main reason why our startup ecosystem is still underdeveloped?

According to Seyi Taylor, if you build a business, funding will come. So, are you building business or just marking time? If indeed you are building a business, there are some things that have to be in place. Some boxes need to be checked correctly if you must succeed. Your focus should be how to acquire and keep customers. Some people must be willing to pay for the service or product that you offer. Else, you are not in business. It doesn’t matter the amount of funding you have access to, if these basics things are not in place, your story will not change. In fact, you might find yourself on the same spot in few weeks.

The interesting thing is that while these basics are very important to the success of any business, many people don’t take them seriously or just overlook them. Just because we focus too much on the funding issue.

So, what are these missing links?

The Importance of Team

In the past few months, I have had discussions with different investors and key stakeholders and the issue of team keeps coming up. Most investors (Angel or VC) will not invest in one-man Startup team. You must have heard the phrase, “we invest in teams only” before.

Opinions differ on the number of co-founders a startup/business should have and this post is not to address that. I leave that decision to you. Just find out what works for you and go for it. According to VentureHacks, two is the right number. Our world is full of companies which were started by two people. Yes, Jobs and Wozniak (Apple), Allen and Gates (Microsoft), Ellison and Lane (Oracle),  Larry and Sergei (Google), Yang and Filo (Yahoo) are some of the names that come to mind. Venturehacks also feels 3 founders may work (as seen in the case Twitter) but argues against having 4 founders or going alone.

We needn’t even look too far, there are local examples all around us. Think JobbermanProworkSaya - the Ghanaian startup that just competed at TC Disrupt, BloovueTwinpine, to mention a few — all have more than one founder. These people would not have gotten to where they are today without the team factor. As a lone ranger, there are higher chances that you’ll be overwhelmed by the challenges. 

The fact that you have co-founders doesn’t mean that all of you have to be at the fore front. One can be the face of the company while the others can work from behind. Everyone knows Steve Jobs, but I am sure most people may not have heard of Steve Wozniak. Yet, it doesn’t belittle his contribution to the company – Apple. If you are still wondering why you need to work in a team, read on. While one of the founders focuses on technical issues, the others can on business-related issues – Sales and Operations. Even when it seems everyone in the team has the same skillsets, there are other ways you can complete one another.

I think the problem with most of us is what I called “ME Inc” mentality. An average African man wants to own everything. While there is nothing wrong with owning everything, it actually places a limit on how far you can go with your business. Just think of what you could achieve with just having an extra person on your board. What most people call startups are actually child’s play. It is high time we broke loose from this mentality.

Every week I see similar start-ups being launched by different people. And the question that keeps coming to my mind each time is…”why can’t these people collaborate?”. Is it that we are bad at collaborating? Or we just want to own 100%?

You want to hear the truth? For you to succeed in any business, you have to focus on closing sales and at the same time delivering a great product experience to the users.  And you think that you can do all these alone? Handling technical issues, managing operations and closing sales? You need to get real.

You may still argue that you can do it alone but if you are sincere with yourself, you will acknowledge your limitations and the need to bring a partner on-board ASAP. You may not necessary want to have a partner under the same company. You can choose to outsource some functions by partnering with another company. Just ensure that you are not a lone ranger. Collaborate.

Organisations like Co-creation hub and Mobile Monday Nigeria are making this possible. If you are looking for someone to partner with, these two organisations are your starting point. And if you need help getting a reliable partner, drop me a line. You never know what could happen. I may be able to connect you with someone :)

And What About Relevant Skills?

Some people will argue that this should have been the first item on my list. Well…it makes it to number two position. I have my reason for starting with team as my number 1. Any skill that you lack can be overlooked if you have a very strong team. And point of caution…the fact that you can code doesn’t mean that you have what it takes to run business. That is actually the beginning. The skills you need to start the business may not sustain you on the journey. Oh Yes…Bankole already did justice to this and I can’t fault his argument. He is definitely spot on and if you missed his write-up, you may need to go back to read that here before you continue. It will help you to understand my thinking. And be warned…I am not going to repeat everything he has said here :). I am just going to continue from where he stopped.

I saw an interesting tweet sometimes last week from Mark Essien, the brain behind Hotels.com.ng and it keeps ringing a bell even till now. Most people think they have the ticket to start and run a business just because they are very good programmers. While this is required, it takes much more than that. As Mark rightly pointed out, you need to pay attention to details for you to have a successful business. Little details as what colour and font size to use on your website do matter a lot.

And there is one disease that is common to most people now…jack of all trades. An average developer wants to handle every aspect of the project. He is the front-end guy as well as the person handling the back-end. He just wants to control everything. Have you now seen the reason why there are very few good developers around here? Yes, having good developers alone in your team doesn’t mean you will have a successful business but it will surely contributes to the success. Good user interface, great user experience are all products of good thinking and attention to details. And just before you hit the launch button for your new start-up / business, check the details again. Will it make more sense for you to just hold for some more weeks to sort out these little details? This may be the determinant of whether people will use your service / product or not :)

All these point to one BIG QUESTION…”do we have a growing and supporting ecosystem?” Silicon Valley is what it is today because of the ecosystem. Starting a business is enough work on itself and if the ecosystem is not there to support, it makes the work even harder. The more we develop the ecosystem, the higher the chance of African Start-ups to succeed and compete globally. And off course, the easier it becomes to receive funding. It takes a commitment from all stakeholders - start-ups, developers, investors, private companies, universities government agencies, technology hubs and off course whoever you are to develop this ecosystem.

So, what are you doing to develop the ecosystem? Yes, YOU!

Image credits: Work With Christy

MWWA2012 Session 1 Recap: Mobile Web and Application Opportunity

First day at the Mobile Web West Africa 2012. Kicked a little late, but Yomi Adegboye (Founder/Publisher) of Mobility Blog was good in managing the first session speakers. The session titled - The Mobile Web and Application Opportunity and Sector Evolution had Isis Nyong’o (Vice President & Managing Director, Africa, InMobi) open the floor with Analysis of the expansion of the sector across the key market in Africa. She talked about how mobile is changing Africa in different ways. Read more…

Co-Creation Hub Nigeria - One idea at a time

Interview: In Less than a Year, Co-creation Hub has created a Superb Leverage for Tech Innovation Ecosystem in Nigeria

Co-creation hub recently announced a new partnership with The Tony Elumelu Foundation. This partnership is one of the few that they have been enjoying since inception. I was interested to know how this partnership is going to benefit aspiring tech entrepreneurs and those who are currently working to start a business leveraging on technology to solve social problems.

I caught up with one of the founders Bosun Tijani and he gave it all out from how they’ve gotten funding and grants to the challenges they still face and how they are working to create a better business environment for social innovation.

Read more…

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Partners Co-Creation Hub To Boost Social Technology Entrepreneurship in Nigeria

Co-Creation Hub Nigeria and The Tony Elumelu Foundation have signed a partnership to provide managed seed funding to up to 20 social technology start-ups in Nigeria in one year. The main purpose of the  fund is to support experimentation and proof of concept of novel application of tech4social good in several aspects of the economy including healthcare, education, agriculture, governance, inclusive technology, small business development, and finance.

This is a welcome development to the cash-strapped Nigerian startup scene as funding remains a major challenge for so many Tech Entrepreneurs out there. Some months ago, we wrote about why we all need to support Co-creation Hub. If you missed it, click here to read it. While the barrier may still be high for tech. startups, things are getting better. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. So, let’s the tech. entrepreneurs show up! Read more…