Kenyan startups need to improve on several key areas that include graphic design, integration of their applications, specialized skills and work on products capable of scaling up Kenya’s technology exports. This was mentioned by Manoj Changrampatt during the MVP Demo Day #MVPDemoDay held at the Strathmore University. Manoj was the keynote speaker at the event. MVP Demo Day is an event organized by Founders Hive. The event has been held previously in the United Kingdom and is now scaling into the African market. The event which, will now be held monthly, seeks to offer advise and mentorship with plans to offer seed capital in the future to participants, whose ideas are scalable.
Manoj also noted that Kenyan startups should take advantage of the opportunities available in the Kenyan market to both grow and scale their business ideas. “Kenya is a fresh market with educated consumers, leading in internet usage in Sub-Saharan Africa and with a massive young population. Startups need to understand the market and in turn, the consumers to be able to succeed.” he added. Manoj also lauded the role played by Kenyan University in churning market ready graduates as well as the continued creation of a good market environment by the government, allowing for growth of ICT.
During the event, several startups presented their ideas and in turn received input from the audience as well as the judges. Among those that pitched their products include SEMA, an online software as a service platform, that manages online feedback by integrating its plugin to a client’s website. Sufuria.com, an online platform that offers chefs a platform to showcase their prowess also pitched. The website plans to scale into different platforms as well as social media sites, thereby offering users a wider choice in culinary matters. Others included Darasa, a cloud based information retrieval startup, incubated at the i-hub that seeks to digitize the 8-4-4 Kenyan curriculum.
The keynote speaker also urged startups to identify their resources and in turn build capacity, which will allow them to compete effectively. “As a startup learn the basics of finance, sales and marketing and even valuation. Get mentors and advisers, to take you through the journey,” he added. He also emphasized the importance of startups having a business plan to guide them on their next steps as well as a product plan to keep them focused on the end goal. He also insisted on the importance of startups understanding trends and transitions as they grow. Other key aspects startups need to understand include researching to understand the consumers as well as build content around them, which will allow people to understand them and their business.
On the key trends, going forward in the Startup scene in Kenya, Manoj singled out what he referred to as the “Big 5”. These included eCommerce gauging on the continued growth of B2B and B2C businesses locally. “There are businesses such as Hello Food, EatOut Kenya, Jumia, all angling for a slice of the eCommerce business locally. Startups can also align themselves in this segment”. Entertainment solutions particularly around music are also a key trend. Others included business to business apps that offer essential information such as where to find meat or where they can sell their goods. Gaming is also another area where tech startups could focus on.