What is in fact lacking is funding to help techpreneurs take their ideas to market, start-ups to upscale their ventures and angel investors to take those already in business to the next level. Bombarded with new ideas on a daily basis and with queries on what it is doing to help assist budding application developers and ICT entrepreneurs, the Kenya ICT Board is trying to match innovators with financiers. Through its Tandaa Kenya initiative, it recently organised a forum where budding techpreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists.
The presentations were made in front of a live audience and stakeholders watched as VCs negotiated for a stake in some of the start-ups, while giving a bye to a good number. Those represented included Fanisi Venture Capital, Africa Media Venture, eVA Open Capital, Aureos Capital and Grofin. Techpreneurs had ten minutes to make their pitch and persuade the financiers to part with funding.
Business Post listened to three of the presentations that appeared to impress the investors and later spoke to one of the money men on what it takes to get financing.
- By Collins Nabiswa
To grow, we need a boost
Mikul Shah, Managing Director, Eat Out Kenya
Eat Out Kenya is a website offering consumers the opportunity to search for listed restaurants and outlets based on various criteria such as location, cuisine, price range and by genre. The portal allows users to look for restaurants, peruse their menu and book a table online.
Officially launched in January this year, it will revolutionise how Kenyans dine by becoming the most comprehensive online restaurant guide covering the most obscure eatery to the most chic. I am currently not giving away substantial equity but what I am asking for from venture capitalists is support in terms of marketing, research and product development.
This is the time to get on board as increased internet access is going to drive internet-based booking systems. I am ready to offer a 10% equity stake and any investor who believes in our venture and objectives is welcome.
“We are looking for an exit strategy”
Mark Kaigwa, director, Gotissuez.com
Gotissuez is a consumer-powered online feedback suggestion box for African companies. It allows consumers to vent their frustrations with companies on our “notice board”, which we then filter and send to concerned companies. Using the feedback, they are able to improve their service and products. We have been doing this for two years and in this period; we have been using our resources for the venture.
We have clinched deals with several local companies among them Wananchi Online and Nakumatt. We are expecting more companies to take up the service especially telecoms players. We are looking for a venture capitalist who can match our investment or take over the firm. We are basically looking for a profitable and acceptable exit strategy.
A low cost solution for lack of phones
Richard Ondiek, Creator, SIM only Payphone
Our business is inspired by a mismatch in the mobile communications sector, where 30% of low income people own a handset and staggering 60% own SIM cards. My innovation of a payphone that allows users to insert their SIM cards and use as opposed to the current ones, where you pay for airtime and time spent on the machine.
Apart from making calls, users will also be able to use valued added services like texting and money transfer. The idea is still in its formative stages and I have applied for an interim patent from the authorities. I am looking for financiers who can help in the creation of the actual prototype and subsequently mass produce them for commercial market.”
Want our cash? Bring a money making idea
Paul Ohaga, partner, Fanisi Capital
Most entrepreneurs often ask us what criteria we use to select startups for support. In a nutshell, all we are looking for ideas that are fundable. We are ready to invest and offer support but we in turn want to be assured of returns, either in the short or long term. We are also looking for viable, scalable ideas that can be commercialized for the mass market. Priority goes to ventures that appeal to the mass market and which can be replicated in other markets.
For us to consider an innovation, it must have demand in the market. Remember we are looking for business ideas and not a contraption that shows how clever you are. An innovation must make business sense, meaning it must have potential to make money— lots of it if possible. We are not interested in innovations that have no commercial value.