BongoHive yesterday hosted their BHLaunch event at Protea Hotel ‘towers’. The goal of the event was to give start-ups who have product in market the opportunity to grow their fledging companies. The BHLaunch event is part of BongoHive’s Discovery incubation program.
At the BHLaunch were 7 start-ups looking for different investment levels. The start-ups at the event were Fixer, Your Insider, Zedhair, 360deals, Tamanga Tickets, Mafashio and Street Culture. Read our review of the event here. The concept is brilliant and an opportunity for anyone whose company is struggling to make the leap from a garage to an office; register for the BongoHive Launch program here. It was fantastic to see the Ambassador of Sweden, Managing Director of Cavmont Bank and the ZICTA Director General (Margaret Chalwe-Mudenda) at the event in their personal capacities.
As a wantreprenuer, I have thoughts on what needs to be worked on by start-ups on the BHLaunch Discover program. Firstly, as I have mentioned numerous times on this blog we have to digitally exist in Zambia, even if it is by domain name alone! I commend the only start-up at the event to have a Zambian domain name 360deals.All the start-ups have mentorship from a digital hub in Zambia, but independent web presence domiciled in .com and .net. Ensure that with the next batch of start-ups their domain is actually Zambian (.co.zm), keeping a smidgen of revenue local. This is something close to my heart as the co-founders at BongoHive will tell you. I had this discussion with them in the early days to not use bongohive.com but have bongohive.co.zm – if you are a Zambian business be a Zambian business.
Six out of seven of the start-ups used Facebook metrics as an indicator for their growth and market penetration. These are ‘good’ in the same way getting out of bed is having a good day. Zambian start-ups, digital or otherwise, have to make the effort to build their own online brand and not that of Facebook. Facebook is a social media tool to communicate and engage with people who may like your business, it is not a business tool to drive growth. If it is a digital business the growth will come from spending time on having a great digital presence that makes it easy for the customer to buy into your brand. If you have a physical presence, have a non-Facebook digital persona to ensure you control your message rather than leave it to the whims of your Facebook followers. The problem with Facebook is you cannot monetise your followers in the same way you can visitors to a webpage; either through advertising or e-commerce. As a ‘Facebook organisation’ you do not have any business intelligence about your followers except the few demographics Facebook cares to share. Facebook is a necessity but it is not your digital presence.
Whilst the start-ups did gloss over their estimated costs the numbers, all were north of K200,000.00. The presentations were built around requiring a single large investment. The companies should have had tiered funding requests based on different growth paths and growth strategies. I may hear one or two start-ups retort that the 5 minutes allocated was too brief. Nonsense. The time and metrics for judging were set prior to the event so preparation should have been geared accordingly.
My cheat codes for the next batch of start-ups:
- Have a .co.zm domain name
- Focus on the business
- Do not focus on what your business can do
- Use visuals – the audience or the judge cannot read slides filled with words in 5 minutes
- Screen shots
- Do not have any slide animations in your presentation
- Dress to present your business
- Match your company image
- Everyone will be in a suit – dare to be different
- Practise your presentation with a timer
Congratulations to BongoHive and the 8 startups (including the 1 NGO startup) on a great event and we wish you all the very best of luck.