Below is a blog post Charlie wrote for Lion’s Africa, just after Eduze pitch at Demo Africa 2013. The video shows quite how far the technology, model and pitching skills have come…
“Welcome, you have just landed outside your comfort zone.,” announced the pilot as I landed in Nairobi, hot, tired and terrified of what lay ahead….5 days of deconstruction, analysis and critique of our baby, our start-up Eduze.
I knew it would be tough – with our lead developer only coming two days later I had 48 hours to survive by myself, in the internet disconnected wilds of the Safari Park Hotel….
Ive never been one for sharing with groups, in fact I haven’t ever really been a great fan of humans in general…but the display of humanity and technology from all those involved with Demo was astounding. Smart, passionate people doing brilliant, innovative things to make the world, in both small and big ways, a better place. Truly inspirational.
It didn’t take me very long to realize I was surrounded by people that were like me; they thought about the world a little differently to most, and had decided to use their working lives to try do something about it. Now this sounds a lot more noble than it is really. We would all shrivel up and die with a ‘normal’ career, plus we obviously want to make it rain and then retire by the time we’re 40 .
However even then I think we would stay entrepreneurs – just beautifully self-funded. Fixing random problems that no-one else seems to see, to make life a little bit better. A bit like super-heros, but way more modest.
Talking of super-heros the Demo mentors were awesome- Susan and Connie deserve special mention for wrangling our visions and pitches into coherent & concise from dreamy and in some cases (including mine) dreadful. The workshop process helped me to redefine and reevaluate Eduze from the outside in – such a valuable experience.
As an entrepreneur working on your venture you very easily forget the bigger picture- you love EVERYTHING about your product and feel, really, it is all important.
So we try push as much info and detail about all the incredible stuff you are doing into one six minute pitch.
So its a bit of a cliche but the experience reminded me to K.I.S.S. regularly.KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
Don’t try inspire people with the nooks and crannies of your technology or the excellence of your no doubt excellent marketing strategy.
Instead remember that first spark; the embryonic process of having an incredible, novel idea and that sudden realization of just how amazing life and the world would be with it. Or more accurately how dull and grey everything looks without it.
It is that light that will forever bring people to your cause; inspire them with the simplicity and vision of a great idea, frame it with a solid business structure, then get them to hand over a stack of cash for a risky but thoroughly enjoyable ride.
I definitely left Kenya with a much clearer idea of what our business actually is and can be, and how best to share that with others..
We also left with some significant partnership and investment opportunities all thanks to the Demo Africa and VC4Africa teams, to whom all 40 start-up finalists owe huge thanks.
Let’s just hope the hotel next year has the same chefs and lunches, but better WiFi and internet connectivity.
Alternatively take us up on our offer of an entirely local and robust content and web network. No 3G, ADSL or even electricity needed…it’s a beautiful thing.