Tomi Davies is the “Collaborator-in-Chief” of technology services company TechnoVision which advises clients on technology-led transformation and early stage entrepreneurship in Africa. He sheds light on starting up as a tech entrepreneur and growing as a founder.
– By Harry Tomi Davies (TD)
Starting out as a Tech Start-up
As a guide to answering this question of “Where do I start?” especially if you really want to get your start-up funded, the question of what exactly it is that you’re building, measuring and learning should start with some old-fashioned thinking about what you see in the future — YOUR VISION! I mean taking yourself through a process that recognises you’re preparing to build a business (and that’s exactly what your start-up is!) that can change the world!It is critical to begin with a think-through of the journey you are starting on while you’re still a start-up because once you’ve started, while you might evolve, pivot and scale you’re never going to get to start the same company again. For how to do this, take a look at my article “What’s the vision for your startup?”on Medium – http://bit.ly/2NmoHnh
Demonstrate Your Mastery as a Start-up Entrepreneur
It is your responsibility as the founder and owner of the venture’s vision to figure out and be sure to document how the business will function from a process and procedures standpoint. At the minimum, you should be able to describe the buy-side (i.e. procurement, vendor management etc), inside (i.e. human capital, design, development, production etc) and sell-side (i.e. marketing, sales, customer relations, etc.) of your operations.It is important to demonstrate your mastery (and as appropriate lack of knowledge) of your envisioned (or semi-built) organisation in anticipation of helping potential investors, partners and employees understand how you see it all working operationally to deliver your proposition.Research, think through and get advice if need be to bring to life on paper just how you expect your startup business to work, highlighting key roles and responsibilities of the different units that will make up the company. You should also (if possible) identify the main activities that will make up the daily operations of the business and any issues associated with them that you foresee.
Courses and Programs for Tech Start-up Entrepreneurs
Personally, I’m a big fan of Eric Ries’“Lean Startup” and the “Build, Measure, Learn” process which is evolving as I write, thanks to the likes of Steve Blank. The VC4A Startup Academy is a FREE online resource dedicated to the next generation of African startup founders; you can take your business to the next level by learning about the latest insights and listening to advice from 35 experts like me active in the African early stage ecosystem. It can be found at https://academy.vc4a.com/
At each stage of my personal development, I have been privileged to have an amazing array of mentors throughout my life including my late brother Akin Ogunmade-Davies who built Nigeria’s first ever indigenous Public Relations firm ROD Publicity with his two partners, Jim Obi who built Equitable Life Insurance – the most lucrative Agency in New York, and Nicholas Negroponte, a co-founder of MIT’s Media Lab who created the One Laptop Per Child organization. Today I still benefit from the mentorship of both senior and junior mentors who guide me in building businesses and their industry expertise.
Start-up Quick Tips
Make sure, as I said earlier, that you have a compelling vision that is sustainably innovating the solution to a problem in a compelling way; choose great co-founders who share your vision enough to build it with you then launch fast; let your proposition to the market evolve with your understanding of your customers; Avoid distractions to your strategic focus while making sure delivery of your offer delights customers. Spend pragmatically and measure everything you can in the business. Above all, don’t get demoralized and don’t give up.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.
Harry Tomi Davies (TD) is "Collaborator-in-Chief" of technology services company, TechnoVision which advises clients on technology-led transformation and early stage entrepreneurship in Africa.TD is a seasoned technology strategist and project development expert with significant market intelligence, research and project management capabilities. Recognized for consistent success in building teams, he specializes in developing cost-effective approaches that use technology to streamline corporate processes and enhance operational performance.