It’s already been a year since the 2012 ZOL Startup Challenge and what a year it has been for Footballzone, the company behind Zimbabwe’s leading soccer website Soccer24.
Every startup needs a big break that transforms an idea or innovation to the next level and ours was the 2012 ZOL Startup Challenge where we came up as runners up. I would not hesitate for a second to encourage any local startup to take the great opportunity and this year from what I understand its bigger and better seed funding pool of $25 000 including 3 years’ worth of internet access from ZOL and there is just so much more value from the event.
For any start-up anyway in the world the challenges are immense, the odds are just against you but in Zimbabwe what you’re up against is even greater and you need all the help you can get .The lack of funding, access to reliable and affordable internet,ZESA and mentorship to name a few are challenges local techies face.
Here is why you should grab this opportunity:
The ZOL Startup Challenge is one of very few (if not only) initiatives locally that gives seed funding specifically to tech startups, with many entrepreneurs locally bemoaning that the traditional funding or borrowing institutes just don’t understand tech start-ups or just view them as too risky to fund. The platform provides a solution to that problem by availing a credible opportunity to finance your start-up.
Meeting other tech entrepreneurs
Meeting other entrepreneurs is always a great, what the challenge has the ability to do is bring entrepreneurs together to share ideas and experiences. I personally found it very encouraging to meet up with people who had similar experiences to mine, talking about overcoming challenges and forming relationships that could help us assist each other. Sometimes what you simply need is to know that you are not the crazy one and you are not alone in the startup jungle!
Meeting with the decision makers
Closely aligned to that is the ability to mix and mingle with industry leaders, underestimate this at your own peril-this one is crucial! What you can get through Tech Surge is access to the key decision makers of most of the leading Tech companies in Zimbabwe, it’s a perfect opportunity to discuss how your idea or product can benefit them or how you can work together. The beauty about this is you don’t need to win the challenge to benefit from this, networking with the people that matter is necessary for the growth of any start up and your business will benefit tremendously from this.
Thanks to the title sponsors ZOL you get a whopping three years of unlimited internet, imagine that no more internet worries for the next three years! If the internet is the “life blood” of your business (as is the case with us), you have so many other issues to worry about having your internet needs addressed for the next few years. This is a major plus for any startup. I can testify after using it for a year it’s fast, reliable and uncapped to!
Platform to launch your product
Chances are high that no one has ever heard of you or heard of your product, this is a perfect opportunity to launch your product to the market and announce yourself to the tech world and beyond. During and after the ZOL Startup Challenge we received many opportunities simply because people now knew who we were, these varied from partnerships,potential funding to out-right acquisition offers from beyond Zimbabwe! The ZOL Startup Challenge announces your start-up to the world and you never know who is looking and listening…
Something I really appreciated from the Challenge was the feedback from all the judges, the same panel that was there last year is back this time around. The panel brings a wealth of experience and expertise in various fields and their advice will definitely help you refine your startup even if it means you are not among the winners you can get valuable feedback that will increase the chances of your start-up doing well in the long run.
The different elements above contribute to what any startup should be aiming to achieve initially and that is growth it’s been quite remarkable the lift we got mainly due to the ZOL Startup Challenge. We have grown from simply being a local soccer website to a company specialising in providing a range of digital football content services.
The Soccer24 Website now has fan base of more than 96,000 Facebook fans, more than 50,000 unique visitors each month and growing each month. We have managed to seal content distribution deals with Gikko and Econet. Sealed advertising contracts with a number of brands. Launched exciting services like the recently launched Tracking Prediction game for Zimbabwe Soccer matches and the Afcon Mobile app, and we have a number of a value dded services and products to launch before the end of the year.
Like any other start-up we still have our challenges even as we grow but we are well on our way to achieving our ambitions and making our mark on not only the Zimbabwean but African tech scene largely thanks to the challenge.
So what are you waiting for, go ahead and apply for the ZOL Startup Challenge 2013,this might just be the break you startup needs!
This guest post was authored by Godwin Chiparaushe, the founder and CEO of Footballzone, a company which owns and manages Zimbabwe’s premium soccer website www.Soccer24.co.zw. Footballzone was a runner up in the 2012 edition of the ZOL Startup Challenge.