Until recently there were so many gaps in the ICT entrepreneurship ecosystem that new start-ups did not have much of a fighting chance of success. However, even with the recent improvements there has still been an “equity gap” for newer start-ups. The creation of the Angel Africa network and its Angel Fair event next week may change things. Russell Southwood talks to co-founder and long-time ICT activist Eric Osiakwan.
The ideas for the Angel Network and Angel Fair came out of an informal lunch at the Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship where Andile Ngcaba (Convergence Partners) and entrepreneur Eric Osiakwan sat down with a gathering of like-minded entrepreneurs.
”The idea was to create a network of angels (see www.angelafrica.net) who could provide early start-up money and things like networks, mentoring and other contacts. We want to help people go through the classic cycle from idea to product to business more easily. In Silicon Valley, they know how to take care of all this. But in Africa, you need to provide what we’re calling ‘mentor financing’; in other words all the things that wrap around the finance itself”.
Eric met up with co-founder Jamie Clyde who among other things had launched the ‘SLOW in the City’ Business Club and SLOW Airport Lounges and kulula connect. They then approached the organisers (Art Logic) of Johannesburg’s annual Art Fair, which is attended by high net worth individuals looking to buy artworks. Out of this was born the idea for Angel Fair, which takes place before the annual Art Fair.
“The premise is not that this is a conference or summit. They meet to do deals: it’s putting together the high net worth individuals with early start-ups.” The day before the event itself there is a workshop for the start-ups on how to pitch their business and a dinner for the angel investors to “break the ice.”
The next day there will be a panel on the Ins and Outs of Angel Investing from people who’ve been doing it, who will talk about their experiences. Then there will be 10 pitches of 3 minutes each:”It will be tell us what you do and what’s so exciting about it and you get to mingle with the angel investors afterwards.
Then there’s a second panel of people talking about having been invested in by angel investors and a second round of pitches. After lunch, there’s then 5 lounges in which the angel investors and start-ups can get together. There will be 25 start-ups present, of which 20 get to do a pitch.
The ten start-ups announced so far are: Solar Light Africa; Bozza (self-generated talent content); Redcore Interactive (money transfer); MySmartFarm (agric information and management); SleepOut.com (hotel booking); KIPH (menswear retailer); Decasio (cloud-based solutions); Headboy Industries (dry bath gel); Xtreme Design and Engineering (cloud hospitality solutions); and Chowhub (restaurant discovery). Currently five are from South Africa and the balance are from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.