Last Friday, players in the tech industry converged at 14 Riverside for the launch of Metta Nairobi. Metta is a global community of entrepreneurs and innovation and the launch in Nairobi was the second flagship location after the headquarters in Hong Kong. Metta seeks to bring together startups, innovators and large companies together in a single space allowing them to connect on both a local and international scale. VC Fund Nest, an early stage and seed round venture capital fund is both an investor and backer of Metta.
“Metta Nairobi is a space for people to meet local founders and local stakeholders from corporates, researchers and anyone to do with innovation,” said NEST CEO Lawrence Morgan speaking to Techweez. “Traveling around the world, a stakeholder would like to know where startups sit, where they pitch. So we want to create that natural home for startups and innovators. A place where entrepreneurs can meet and achieve commercial outcomes, network and learn through events because everyone with a similar mindset converges,” he added.
The word Metta means a meeting of like minded individuals in a language used by Buddha. Lawrence says this embodies what they are seeking to do and what they want to achieve. Metta Hong Kong launched 7 months ago and the space has witnessed massive success so far according to Lawrence. “We set out to make Metta Hong Kong the thriving hub of innovation. Since then, we have hosted more than one event a day in that space, from government to corporations and even startups. It has grown to become a firm community and what has made it successful has been the fact that members have championed content and events. We are hoping to do the same here in Nairobi,” he says.
Metta was founded on the realization that there was need to help nascent entrepreneurial ecosystems coalescence. “Innovation often takes place in isolation. A telco will launch their solution, a startup offer their solution but there is not real conversation between players on how best to work together for success,” said Lawrence. Metta seeks to be the place, where these players can have these conversations and find out how best they can plug into each other for success.
“There is some similarity in the innovation ecosystem here and in Hong Kong and we can have them “cross-pollinate” where an idea has relevance to the Asian market can explore that possibility. One of the reasons we have not seen this cross-pollination has been the lack of a community and having this similar space in different places across the world means an entrepreneur can easily plug in and find out what works best for them in different markets,” he added.
So what sets Metta apart from the traditional business clubs? “Metta is about people in innovation. The traditional business clubs include businesses in a whole variety of sectors, but we are looking to work with corporate with a focus on innovation while creating a community aiming to foster the same,” said Lawrence. “Metta is also a universal platform to look at innovation from a broader perspective. One of the first events we held focused on fashion lab and this creates a platform for tech and to meet these other industries and find the ideal spot for innovation,” he says.
Why the location? “14 Riverside houses some of the largest companies in the world here from SAP, Intel, Visa and others. The location also houses the Dusit D2 Hotel which attracts international visitors. This location makes it easy for these companies to meet with startups or even for a visiting investor to from a stone throw visit this location and meet startups and companies that matter,” he says.
Success for Metta would be having the ability to connect local ecosystems to the global grind, where the local entrepreneur has access to the global opportunities and global firms. “We have nascent ecosystems and we can help these areas scale to the global front by serving as a connector through our space,” he says. Metta Nairobi started in June and has seen its membership grow to 150 since launch. “This is a space founded on the three core tenets of Community, Connectivity and engagement.”