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These PIVOT East selection criteria will help your startup wherever you are

pivoteastIt’s just a week before one of Africa’s most watched startup competitions and conference, PIVOT EAST, kicks off in Nairobi. The competition will see 25 startups compete for the top spot in each of 5 categories.

The competition is only open to East African startups but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the valuable lessons they learn through the process. To prepare participants in advance, PIVOT East share their selection criteria in advance of the competition. Going over it, it’s clear that these are important questions any startup should ask themselves. They are important because usually we’re so excited and determined about our ideas we are not hard enough on ourselves to to see and take the necessary steps to fix flaws in our ideas and the execution plan. So we thought we’d re-share here.

  1. Know if the problem is worth solving. It’s ok to know what the problem is, but it is worth solving. What’s the market size for it. Do the numbers make sense in attracting people and investors to work with you?
  2. Are you addressing the problem? How exactly is your solution an answer to the problem you have identified.
  3. The market may be big, your solution may address the problem perfectly, but is anyone willing to pay you money for it? Also, it’s ok to say you will make money in certain ways but has this been tested? The lean startup model comes to the fore. Have you made any effort to ascertain, even without the technology fully built (or built at all in a lot of cases) if people would pay for such a solution?
  4. Who and what is your competition? Our experience with this question in the startup challenge is that startups usually think the competition is the other startups trying to address the same problem. PIVOT East put it well in their criteria when they not only talk of competition as ‘competition’ but as ‘alternatives’. These can be companies addressing the same problem in the same, slightly different or radically different ways. But it may also just be the current tedious way your future customers are resorting to because of the lack of your proposed solution. Coca Cola and water.
  5. How are you going to acquire customers? It’s great to have a winning idea but it’s more important to know how those customers are going to be acquired. What type of customer are you going after first? Where are they and how are they going to discover and start using your solution?
  6. Do you have the dream team? The importance of a team that can deliver cannot be overemphasised. We quote PIVOT East: “Team composition and complementarity of skills, suitability of team structure to deliver on business goals, sense of commitment to the startup by team members is vital.”
  7. Have a plan. “How’s your roadmap or projections for growth within the next 12 months for, it could be in terms of: – Revenue, Users, Customer discovery / development, Key partnerships & Investments”

Do you have other tips that startups would find useful?

image credit: PIVOT East

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