The VCs versus the Entrepreneurs

By Jessica Colaço
  Published 20 Oct 2010
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On Monday the 18th of October, 2010 from 2:00-6.00 pm at iHub, 8 tech start-ups pitched to a panel of 5 venture capitalists and live audience of over 100 people in the tech space in Nairobi at Nairobi's Innovation Hub - *iHub_ The audience comprised founders of tech start-ups, aspiring IT entrepreneurs, students, IT enthusiasts and media who took home valuable lessons from both the VCs and the Entrepreneurs. List of Entrepreneurs:
  1. Mikul Shah from Eat Out which is currently the most comprehensive Kenyan website offering consumers the opportunity to search for listed restaurants and outlets based on various criteria such as area location, type of cuisine, price range.
  2. Tangus Koech from mTrader which is an software platform for stock trading on mobile phones and Personal Computers. It provides up-to-the second streaming market data and statistics.
  3. Sagini Onyancha from which is Kenya’s leading recruitment portal by registered users/visits.
  4. Mark Kaigwa from Gotissuez which is a consumer-powered online feedback suggestion box for African companies.
  5. Richard Ondiek for SIM only PayPhone. The GSM SIM Card will provide payphones that will allow users to insert their SIM card to make phone calls, check balance, send money.
  6. Peter Waa from Paysure Limited has developed an application that allows internet merchants to accept local currency payments for online transactions with customers who are using local bank cards.
  7. Kamande Muiruri from Digital Networks provide electronic medical records (EMR) and financial management solutions for the healthcare sector. Their software, Business Outlook™ for Medical Clinics, helps doctors automate patient records and billing at their clinics.
  8. David Kuria from Pewahewa Music Limited which is a fully Kenyan owned business entity that operates an online music store that seeks to empower local musicians by making their music not only easily available and accessible for their fans, but also as affordable as possible.
List of Venture Capitalists:
  1. Dr Vincent Kouwenhoven | eVA Fund (eVentures Africa Fund): Dr Vincent Kouwenhoven is Founder and MD of eVA Fund. Dr Kouwenhoven has been active in venture capital in Digital Media in Europe since 2000, when he founded eVentures Europe.
  2. Rosemary Mulwa | GroFin: Rosemary Mulwa is Business Development Manager at GroFin Kenya and is responsible for establishing, maintaining and growing a profitable investment portfolio.
  3. Kellie Murungi | Open Capital Advisors: Kellie Murungi is a Certified Public Accountant (Kenya) who brings professional expertise in investment analysis, accounting and strategy consulting. She has worked extensively with African small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) as an independent financial advisor, operational manager and portfolio manager.
  4. Paul Ohaga | Fanisi Capital Limited: Paul Ohaga is a Partner at Fanisi Capital Limited. Ohaga has extensive corporate finance and transaction experience which has seen him advise, make and monitor equity and quasi-equity investments as well as conduct valuations and advising on disposals
  5. Pim de Wit | Africa Media Venture Fund: Pim de Wit has a long (life)time experience in off and on line media. After his departure as CEO and chairman of Sanoma Magazines in 2005 he took the initiative to establish Africa Interactive,a fast growing press and content agency with a network of over 1400 reporters in more than 40 African countries.
Why are sessions like these important within the tech community? These type of "VCs versus Entrepreneurs" sessions are vital within the the community because they bring out valuable lessons and answer unanswered questions such as: What are VCs looking to investing in? Examples from the Monday session:
  • Open capital says that in Kenya they find very good 'geek' ideas but not enough business ideas. ..."What we look for is the proposal that will address tomorrows issues. You must be able to foresee and articulate it..."
  • ..."Better well copied than badly invented says another VC..."
  • Revenue Models used by Entrepreneurs. For instance, Eatout's revenue model is based on restaurant subscriptions
With a turnout of over 100 people from the tech community, they are definitely eager to gain more insight into the VC and investor world. However, this is not sufficient enough as we need more local investors supporting the local innovators and in return we need the local innovators to be able to foresee and articulate their business ideas. Thus forums such as these provide valuable lessons for both parties; the VC and Entrepreneurs. As they can better understand each others needs and work on them thoroughly before the next "pitch". Hence the iHub is an enabler and catalyst with the tech community to enable information dissemination and social networking diffusion between VCs and the tech community.
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