East-African startup scene
What's more you can hope from introduction of a new country than being able to follow one of your CEO's to destination unknown. This time the CEO of Fuzu Jussi Hinkkanen toured me aroung Uganda and Kenya. He is a veteran of Africa since the days of Nokia and could give me a proper deep dive to different cultures in the continent. Starting from colonial times (often chaotic) and it's effect to different parts of Africa to origins of high culture development we ended up reflecting history to current startup life ecosystem in these countries (Jussi is very analytical in all aspects).
Kampala innovation week was good insight into Uganda's rising startup life. It's still early stages and "Big in Uganda" seems to be the ultimate goal to many teams, but few professional approaches were also discovered.
- There is no such thing as innovation around "Nice to have" products in Africa. All ideas are based to the fact that there is a urgent need for the solution in the country.
- When business angel network is undeveloped and does not really understand the need and help the companies, they approach with offers like 20k€ for 90% of the company. Startup ecosystem always needs passionate investors to boost it.
Kenya is already on a premier league. Super angels and local VC's are ready invest 6 figures to promising companies. Mobile network covers the whole country with solutions that impress me. Innovation centers are located in nice areas.
I also heard stories of Nokia's innovation centre that had amazing inventions on portfolio that could have made a huge difference in African development.
- Compared to Finland the teams work passionately easily 10 hours a day added by commuting 2 hours in quite chaotic traffic ONE WAY!
- Many of team members have been trained in-house for the role as the schooling usually provides outdated or even false information and habits to students. Many have never worked in an organisation before graduating. Leadership must dedicate a lot of energy to guiding and support.
Overall I definitely think that we could learn a lot of African startup mentality. How about as simple thing as a smile to start with!
Analogy of a startup failure at Karen Blixen's estate in Nairobi. Coffee plantation with wrong team and soil added by bad momentum.
Startup group art picture. Some are not sure what to do, why and how.
Fuzu testimonial at Nairobi office wall.
Kampala innovation week panel. Jussi on the right.
Kampala innovation center.
Just to make sure about Africa's geography for the ones that did not get it in school.