2018 has been a great year with a number of South Africa startup ecosystem has recorded some amazing successes including exits and investments. There has been many conferences and events focused on startups. I’m looking forward to 2019 and I’ve got 5 things that I believe entrepreneurs and the startup ecosystem should do more of in the coming year and 5 that we must leave behind.
5 Things We Should Leave Behind
South Africa internet access costs are amongst the highest on the continent and there is no justification for this. High data costs negatively impact entrepreneurship and people from low income groups are the most excluded from the global digital economy. The various stakeholders must ensure that high data cost do not continue in 2019.
Entrepreneurs must focus on solving real problems and delivering real value and not focus too much on stringing buzzwords together. Entrepreneurs who are too focused on buzzwords usually fail to create anything meaningful.
Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs should get outside the building and talk to real customers to get their input and feedback during product and customer development. They should not sit in their offices making assumptions and building products and apps without talking to customers.
Businesses nowadays cannot afford to plan too far and make annual plans. They must treat a quarter like a year and have monthly and weekly reviews to quickly correct course. Waiting a year to see how you’re doing must remain in 2018 as you’ll be disrupted by companies that think in hours and deliver in days not months.
In a super connected world with emails, WhatsApp, slack, social media and phones many people are always on. This can leads to burnout, fatigue and unhealthy personal relationships. Create boundaries and have days and times when you disconnect in order to rest, relax and recharge. Being always on must remain in 2018.
5 Things We Should Do More in 2019
There has been a lot of cohesion and collaboration in the ecosystem and we should see more of that next year. For instance, Startup Grind, Heavy Chef and Silicon Cape came together to create Cape Town Startup Week. Also, conference organisers collaborate to ensure people coming from overseas can book fewer flights but attend more events.
Next year we should focus more on what makes the South African and African ecosystem unique and not try to replicate Silicon Valley. We have unique challenges, a unique environment, unique cultures and unique value systems.
We need to ensure that incubators and accelerators are making a big and positive impact on startups. We need to see more startups graduating and being bigger and better than when they went into the programmes.
I’d like to see more clarity on ESD and the information more readily available to startups. Instead of ESD being understood by a few consulting organisations, the information and language must be made more accessible so that more entrepreneurs can benefit from it and grow the economy.
While entrepreneurs need money, many do not know the type and size of funding and also the time to raise funding. There has been education around when to raise different type of funding and we should see more of this next year.