After some thought about what technology subject matter would be the most appropriate for an introductory article, unexpectedly, an impromptu discussion with a distressed “technopreneur” has provided me with this subject. In the following paragraphs I will give my candid opinion of the local technopreneurship ecosystem.
To start with, the exhaustion and frustrations tormenting the technopreneur I had a discussion with are not peculiar to him alone. Rather, they are experienced by every entrepreneur no matter their stature or the magnitude of success. Interestingly, this earlier individual has thrown in the towel and is selling his online media business because he feels it hasn’t generated the planned revenue that he believed was possible when he founded it a few years ago.
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle and is not just about making money. It is about being an agent of transformative change. The major reason that we are not getting disruptive technology products and services locally is because we are obsessed with cloning concepts that have already proven their market fit globally, instead of creating our own technology.
For instance, there are so many news portals designed and owned by Zimbabweans; however the value proposition they offer is regrettably minimal. There will be one Google, Facebook etc., and instead of obsessing over creating another Google, Uber, or Facebook, why doesn’t one explore creating a plugin or plugins for these platforms which would earn you millions if not billions, if they solve a problem. Too many times we occupy ourselves with chasing the wind, and believe that we are very busy.
Silicon Valley is not a place that determines whether you will be successful as a technopreneur. Silicon Valley is a state of mind. Ushahidi was developed in Kenya and has become a global phenomenon as one of the leading technology platforms in Africa providing software and services to numerous sectors and civil society to help improve the bottom up flow of information.
Without shame, so many of our platforms lack the functionality to make them world beaters and gain real traction. We need to improve our creativity and design skills; otherwise we will remain a disillusioned and stressed group of self-claimed “technopreneurs” with no tangible products or services to shout about.
What I have realized locally, for example, is that most of these websites and blogs are lazily designed similarly, and lack comprehensive content or functionality to grab the attention of the users. Nowadays, the race is to grab the attention of the users because these are times of great choices and options. Every technology business desperately needs to gain attention share, without attention it is difficult to cross the chasm.
Any digital business automatically becomes a technology company, and what baffles me is why they don’t act like one. Maybe we are failing to understand what being a technology company entails, or we simply lack the business acumen to execute or implement our ideas in the best possible way for them to solve the various human challenges.
Show me, where is the money? Because from my vantage point I am not seeing anything that convinces me that breakthroughs are being made in the hunt for profitability.
This guest post was written by Nathaniel Mafemba. WhatsApp: +263 779 599 967.
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