Thirteen international startups have been selected by the VentureOut Challenge, an initiative of infoDev and CRDF Global, to compete before a live audience and a panel of mobile experts in Chisinau, Moldova on November 1, 2013. The winners included Apps4Africa 2012 Challenge winner ProWork.
Top mobile app entrepreneurs from 33 countries competed in the VentureOut Challenge. The goal: Internationalization of their mobile applications — entering new countries, continents, or going global with their amazing apps. Stakes are high: $10,000 seed funding; Mentorship with international and regional mobile experts; Dragon’s Den exposition in Chisinau, Moldova; and TechCrunch Disrupt Europe Scholarship to Berlin.
The VentureOut initiative was launched to help mobile app entrepreneurs to expand internationally. The finalists include ventures from Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia and represent mobile applications ranging from mobile health focusing on patient-centric health applications to location-based services and different sorts of entertainment including music, gaming and television.
The 2013 VentureOut Mobile App Competition Finalists
- GoMetro is a transit app for emerging markets that combines trains, buses, rapid transit and taxis into one app using multiple data sources. Alicia Ernstzen, South Africa, gometroapp.com
- Grikly is a business networking application that allows users to share contact details easily. Dwayne Samuels Jamaica, grik.ly
- Idram Mobile Wallet empowers users to make payments and transfer money using only their phone. Narek Vardanyan, Armenia, mobile.idram.am
- M.A.D.E. is a disaster and emergency focused native mobile app providing users with information about what to do before, during, and after natural disasters and national emergencies faced by the Caribbean. Ade Inniss-King, Trinidad & Tobago
- Manifesto instantly records video or audio with one tap and shares it seamlessly. Dorian Postevca, Moldova, seemanifesto.com
- Marodi.tv is a replay TV platform for mobile and web playing TV programs from channels in Senegal and Cameroon. Jimmy KUMAKO, Senegal, marodi.tv
- Nearest Locator helps you easily find the nearest ATMs, banks, eateries, hospitals, pharmacies and more. Ayoola ajebeku, Nigeria, getnearest.com
- Prowork empowers businesses by bringing project management and collaboration together on one platform. Francis Onwumere, Nigeria, prowork.me
- SweetSOA offers web services to businesses. Jerome Campbell, Jamaica, sweetandsoa.com
- Teddy the Guardian is a teddy that uses state-of-the-art medical sensors to capture, report on and share a child’s vital signs like heart rate, body temperature and oxygen saturation. Ana Burica, Croatia, teddytheguardian.com
- Tuning Fork is karaoke with real-time pitch verification. Dilara Rustam-Zadeh, Azerbaijan, tuningfork.az
- Waabeh is Africa’s audio market place helping with discovery and distribution of audio content from the continent. King’ori Maina, Kenya, waabeh.com
- X-Rift is a location-based augmented reality game for mobile devices. Daniel Tonkopiy, Ukraine, x-rift.com
All finalists will receive ongoing mentoring from exceptional entrepreneurs and investors from around the globe who have experience building companies and taking them global.
Beyond mentoring the finalists, infoDev and CRDF Global will offer resources for any growing mobile startup to learn necessary skills, make connections, and find inspiration to go global. The conference in Moldova will also include hands-on training sessions to help entrepreneurs identify and develop their customer base and learn other critical aspects of business modeling.
infoDev is a global partnership program within The World Bank Group. Its Mobile Innovation Program supports growth-oriented mobile app businesses by enabling entrepreneurship, building mobile innovation communities, and researching the app economy of emerging and frontier markets. www.infodev.org
About CRDF Global
Founded in 1995, CRDF Global is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, training and services. www.crdfglobal.org
In a very short period of time, Francis Onwumere has lead Prowork to become one of Africa’s hottest startups. With offers coming from investors in Silicon Valley as well as Africa and being named one of the Top 50 Global Entrepreneurs by Global Forum, one might wonder what makes them such a prize. In an interview recorded late last year, Francis shares a bit of the ProWork story!>
What do Richard Branson, David Cameron, and Apps4Africa 2012 winner William Senyo have in common? Aside, from all being dashing gentleman, they all played a role in the 2013 G8 Innovation Conference last week in London!
William was one of 130 brilliant minds selected by IDEO and British Airways to participate in the world’s first ‘innovation lab in the Sky’, UnGrounded. UnGrounded was made possible by a chartered 747 provided by British Airways which took these 130 individuals from San Francisco to London for events surrounding the 2013 G8 Summit. The UnGrounded flight culminated in a private tour of Britain’s House of Lords and a trip to The Siemen’s Crystal for the G8 Innovation Conference (where Mr. Branson and Cameron spoke) which was followed by the DNA Summit.
Baroness Scotland prepares to address her audience.
William Senyo (Co-Founder of SliceBiz) and Jon Gosier (Apps4Africa Team)
Working together on the UnGrounded flight!
Arriving at the Summit
William and Kimberly Bryant of BlackGirlsCode.org
It was an exciting weekend and we’re glad SliceBiz was selected to participate. For more on the British Airways/IDEO UnGrounded initiative, visit http://ungroundedthinking.com
In 2012, the Apps4Africa: Business Challenge asked young tech developers to submit their business ideas aimed at solving local problems through a series of brainstorming sessions held in six countries across Africa. The brainstorming events, which engaged local stakeholders, partners, and local US Embassies, focused mainly on engaging and encouraging the next young tech CEOs and teams of change makers that could innovate, create, and transform their technology businesses to provide more employment opportunities and strengthen the economy of their region.
We’re excited to announce that of the near 300 submitted applications, from nearly 1000 people, three winners have been elected for funding:
Team - Titus Mawano
Country - Uganda
Award - $10,000
Website - http://ffene.com
Ffene is a low cost business management platform that enables small and medium businesses to leverage technology to reduce overhead costs incurred due to administrative tasks, freeing up resources that can be redirected to growth initiatives. Currently, Ffene can be used for accounting, customer relationship management, product management and generation of reports.
Team - William Edem Senyo, Heather Cochran
Country - Ghana
Award - $10,000
Website - http://www.facebook.com/SliceBiz
SliceBiz, is a disruptive crowdsourcing web and mobile investment platform providing alternative funding for startups. Our mission is to unlock a whole new funding market for startups to access finance by creating the framework that will make it easy and appealing for middle class Africans to invest small amounts of their disposable income into high-growth startups with proven potential to give high return on investment. The solution SliceBiz is offering is to leverage web/mobile (& offline) platforms to create a connection between startups looking for funding and business-savvy young professionals/middle class looking to invest.
Team - Francis Onwumere, Opeyemi Obembe, Ernest Ojeh
Country - Nigeria
Award - $10,000
Website - http://prowork.me
Prowork is a mobile first enterprise class project management and collaboration solution for businesses. It’s like Basecamp or Atlassian’s confluence but mobile and easier to use, more powerful, with real time collaboration everywhere, anywhere. Prowork is accessible via mobile, the web, SMS and a robust API to allow developers to extend the functionality.
Appfrica and the U.S. Department of State, with the support of the World Bank, would like to extend our congratulations to the 30 final innovations that have been selected from the Apps4Africa 2012 Competition!
Our expert judges are now voting on the innovations that should be invested in this year. BIG thanks to The U.S. Department of State, The World Bank (Africa), Nic Haralambous, Liz Ngonzi, Loren Treisman, Makhtar Diop, and Wayne Sutton for your participation in the judging process!
TYAN - OpenApp (Zambia)
The Business Planner (Zimbabwe)
Ama Sampo (Zambia)
Spell Africa (Nigeria)
Alsvas (Central African Republic)
Prep-hub (South Africa)
Youth Village (South Africa)
Click Tradex (Ghana)
Opportunity Pour Tous (Cote d’Ivoire)
What Happens Next?
Out of these finalists, 3 innovations will be selected and funded with $10,000USD each. Appfrica will continue to engage these innovators, providing mentorship, additional exposure and additional funding opportunities.
Look out for our (3) selections to be funded in the coming weeks!
The Apps4Africa 2012 team: (L to R) Marieme Jamme, Thomas Genton, Barbara Birungi, Jon Gosier, Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson
Loren Treisman is the Executive of Indigo Trust, a grant-making foundation based in London that funds and supports technology-driven projects that bring about social change in Africa. She supports a wide range of programmes that focus mainly on innovation, transparency and citizen empowerment. Her portfolio also includes innovative projects that utilise information technologies to support development outcomes in any sector including the health, education, human rights and agriculture spheres. The Trust also supports technology innovation hubs across the continent.
Only two years ago, when we started funding in the tech for social change space in Africa, it was hard for people to imagine the tremendous potential for this sector to stimulate change on the continent. Mobile phone penetration was growing exponentially and submarine cables on both coasts were beginning to make high speed broadband internet a reality. Still, the power of these technologies to increase transparency, improve governance and impact upon social change across a range of sectors including health, education, agriculture and human rights was yet to be realised.
At Indigo Trust, we believe that the best solutions to Africa’s challenges will be devised by those affected by them. Technology makes this possible. As technology becomes more widely available and people are able to utilise this tool to access, share and create information, citizens are able to stimulate the change they wish to see in their own lives and communities. Young people are often early adapters of new technologies and crucially, they often have the drive and passion it takes to turn a good idea into a viable enterprise or product. Now, the young people of Africa can be the change makers in their societies.
This sector is still in its infancy, but it’s an exciting time to be involved. There’s a tangible energy across Africa. Technology innovation hubs are springing up across the continent-from KINU in Tanzania and Hive Colab in Uganda to Co-creation Hub in Nigeria and Activ Spaces in Cameroon. These hubs are places where techies and social activists can access high speed internet, training and mentorship opportunities. Most importantly they can share, collaborate and innovate.
These hubs are a crucial part of the local technology ecosystem which will stimulate local innovation and entrepreneurship and ensure that world class applications are developed in-country. This will both stimulate Africa’s economic development and ensure that social projects most effectively address the needs of beneficiaries as the teams creating them will have a better understanding of local context and culture.
We’re delighted to be supporting Apps4Africa and thank them for inviting me to sit on the judge panel. Beyond the competition, we recognise that entrepreneurs need support to transform their prototypes into viable products. We’d be keen to support some of the best projects coming out of the competition. We’ve been supporting iCow, last year’s winner of Apps4Africa for almost 2 years and we’re inspired by the team and the product. It’s incredible to see the impact it’s making on the ground, increasing their incomes through higher milk yields and better sale prices for livestock.
The opportunity is here and now. Other funders and investors are interested in this space and support is available to turn your idea into a reality. If you’ve got a great idea for an application which can support young entrepreneurs, why don’t you get involved and be part of the change you wish to see in your community.
Those of you interested in entering the Apps4Africa competition have a few extra days, our deadline has been extended to Dec 31st at 11:59pm EST! All entries past that date/time will be automatically deleted. Make sure you enter by that time!
Thus guest post was contributed by entrepreneur, Liz Ngonzi. Born in Uganda and “raised” at the United Nations, Liz Ngonzi is an international entrepreneur, educator and speaker committed to facilitating relationships between organizations that “do good” with those that “do well”, with a goal of meeting their mutual strategic objectives through marketing and fundraising campaigns, and educational activities.
Liz has consulted to and advised organizations in the US and in Africa, focused on gender rights, youth development and public health, along with higher education institutions.
Based on her 20-year career in marketing/sales and ten of those as an entrepreneur, Liz also teaches nonprofits how to meaningfully and efficiently engage their stakeholders using digital media, and budding social entrepreneurs how to develop compelling value propositions for investors.
Liz currently serves as a 2011-2013 Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Cornell University Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, is on the adjunct faculty of New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy & Fundraising and is the Africa Adviser to Syracuse University iSchool.
Ten Ways to Improve Your Pitch
Among the most common fears in the world is that of presenting in front of others – in the digital age in which we live where our ideas and correspondingly ourselves, could be delivered to countless and faceless people around the globe, that anxiety is most likely amplified a thousand-fold.
Even for me, with 20 years of pitching under my belt, many years teaching and presenting at conferences — I still have some anxiety when having to pitch an idea. The good news however, is that my years of experience — both winning and losing pitches — and subsequent analysis of losses and wins has enabled me to develop strategies that I’ve summarized for you below.
If you only remember three things from this post, here they are: (1) do your research to understand what will get the buyer(s) to say “yes”; (2) always put your best foot forward by realizing that while content is important, presentation can be even more so; and (3) be open to learning about how you can improve for the next pitch, assuming that you have what it takes to keep moving forward in the face of adversity. For everyone else, here are my 10 points to consider in improving you pitch:
1. Research, Research, Research. Understand Your Audience
Generally speaking, you will most likely know the names of who your assessors are. Armed with that knowledge and a simple Google search (here are the results of my Google search on Jon Gosier, Founder and CEO of Appfrica), you can learn about who they are, glean information about what drives them and possibly what you need to do to win them over. In this day and age of information, failing to research and understand the people to whom you’re presenting your ideas is a HUGE mistake that could ultimately result in your loss.
2. Understand Your Battlefield – Know Your Competitors’ Advantages and Weaknesses
Anyone effectively going into battle knows the importance of understanding who their opponents are. Again, a simple Google search about the opposing parties enable you to understand how to manoeuver against the competition. Such results provide you with insights into strengths and weaknesses in terms of marketability of their product, team strength, etc. If you don’t have information about current competitors, you can still research those whose ideas won in the past, along with those who were less fortunate. You can learn a lot from those who were successful…and even more from those who were not!
3. “The So What Factor” - Think About What Differentiates You and Your Business From Others
I know that you believe you’ve come up with the next best THING. However, in order to make certain that you have, you need to make certain that you understand and more importantly, convey what’s unique about your offering. People come up with great ideas all the time, however what takes a great idea to a great product/service, requires a bit more work.
Does your idea save people time or their lives? Have you found a way to help them make more money? Does your business have the ability to make people happier? Whatever you are offering, make certain that it does so better, faster or cheaper than other competitors in your target market. Most importantly, make certain to convey that in your pitch.
4. Content is King, But Sizzle Sells – Showmanship Can Make All the Difference
You can have a great idea or even be the most brilliant person, however if you do not know how to package it in a way that sells…you will fail to attract investors. If you do not currently have that talent on your team, I strongly suggest that you bring in someone who understands how to make your pitch “look and feel” more attractive to the potential investors.
This can include graphic designers, stylists (if you need to pitch in person or have photographs taken of your team) and great photographers / videographers who can capture your team and its business in the most attractive manner. For those on a tight budget, I suggest finding someone with a camera/video-enabled phone to capture your story through photos / video, even if they’re not professional ones…just do your best to make them look so!
5. Curate Your Digital Brand – Don’t Let Your Facebook Posts Kill the Deal
As much as we all love to share all of the happenings of our lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and other social media, I suggest that you review what you’ve posted online thus far and consider removing anything that would make your grandmother blush and even more importantly…make a potential investor re-consider whether or not betting on you or your fellow team members would be wise!
For additional information about how to curate your digital brand, review this link and check-out this link about how to manage your digital footprint. Another great resource you can use to improve your digital image is brand yourself, a service that aims to improve your Google search results.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice – Never Go in Cold
We all spend a lot of time getting everything ready for the pitch and sometimes forget to visualize success and practice toward that goal. As much as you may be incredibly busy getting the demo or power-point presentation ready, you have to take the time to practice for the pitch (if you’re fortunate enough to do it live or in front of the potential investors). If the pitch has to be done via postings, then you should consider recording it. You’ll definitely want to have a script that you follow for taping. I always tell people that YouTube is a great resource if they are trying to find how to do something. Here is a link to various Youtube videos for those trying to pitch to investors online.
7. Social Media is Just That….Social – Engage Others to Support Your Brand
Many entrepreneurs believe they have to do it all themselves, however, the good news is that through social media, they can leverage others to support their ideas. When my team and I were trying to get votes for our Africa, Tech & Women: The New Faces of Development panel at SXSW (a major US technology and music conference), we took to social media to get that much-needed support.
We even bombarded our email and mobile phone contacts with messages seeking support of our panel. The result was that our panel was selected from 3,200 entrants and one of 600 talks, not an easy feat, given that Africa still doesn’t have the reputation for tech innovation, and women are still definitely in the minority when it comes to tech.
8. Mind Your Manners – Personalized Thank You Notes Go a Long Way
I’m pretty “old school” when it comes to acknowledging others and have a preference for hand written notes. However I know that it is easier to send a thank-you notes via email, particularly when you’re doing so in/from Africa. Whatever the format, my experience has shown me that it makes a great deal of difference to send individualized notes to all those whom I’ve met following a pitch.
To do so, you have to make certain that you ask each of them for their business cards at an appropriate time during the pitch (if it’s in person) or work hard to find their email addresses if their contact details are not not posted on the site where you register (if online). I can tell you from experience that those who receive thank you notes from you following the pitches will remember that gesture, because most people seldom do so.
9. Seek Feedback – Why Did Your Pitch Rock or Bomb?
Alongside sending out thank you notes / emails, requesting feedback from investors / judges is a rarity. Those who take their responsibilities seriously (barring rules against doing so by the organizers of the pitch) will most likely provide you with feedback on why your pitch failed and possibly pointers on how to strengthen it. Whether or not they respond, it always makes sense to seek feedback in the event that you get it…it only makes you better if you do!
10. Be Your Best Cheerleader - Celebrate Having the Courage to Do What Most People Can’t
At the end of the day, the fact that you were brave enough to come up with an idea and present it to folks who could potentially bring it to fruition through their time, talent and resources – means that you’re a winner. Take the time to celebrate that!
Even if you did not make it through this time, if you take the time to obtain and review the feedback (post mortem included) and commit to pitch other people, if you do so armed with the aforementioned knowledge and have the confidence your ability to work through disappointments, you’ll eventually get better.
Follow Liz on Twitter: @LizNgonzi
Sitting at the first Africa CEO Forum this week, in the heart of Geneva, I asked myself if this was the right time to open the debate on Africa’s private sector future. Was Geneva the right place? Critics will rightly argue that this sort of event should have been held in Africa.
Over two intensive days, top African chief executive officers shared with attendees from all over the Africa, Europe and Asia, some latest trends and best practices, discussed the future of the continent’s private sector, and received awards and accolades.
Speakers such as the outspoken Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim tried to boost the narratives of Africa’s position compared to China and India but with little solutions to offer. When I asked him why the event was not held in Accra or Johannesburg, Ibrahim replied by stating that the reasons were more infrastructural and logistical than anything else.
We were in Geneva at the Africa CEO Forum where we met Dr Hischam El Agamy. He shared some tips on how to be a Great Leader. We caught him at the Casablanca room! Here what he has to say! Enjoy!!