The weekend of 6 to 7 June 2015 signaled the annual Startership Seminar – a national event where Fellows, who have ideas for viable ventures, have the opportunity to get practical about their business models.
The Startership process is a practical expression of the Association’s wish to help Fellows create and test business models and grow their insight into the realities of the journey we enable them to pursue. The practical nature of the event is made possible by other Fellows who have already started walking the ‘talk’ of entrepreneurship and now willingly lend their professional skills to their peers.
The forerunner to the Startership Seminar was a series of pre-Startership workshops that were held in Cape Town and Johannesburg during May. At these events Fellows were provided with the latest tools related to venture ideation, problem-solution fit, and customer validation. The sessions are designed to be a safe space where everyone can interrogate their venture ideas or side-projects. They leave the sessions with homework: to clarify their customer persona, total addressable market (TAM) and their quantifiable value proposition.
Using Bill Aulet’s book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship, as a guide, participating Fellows evolved their business ideas to the point where they felt confident enough to pitch it. At the Startership Seminar they received further guidance from advising Fellows who shared honest and practical truths of their own entrepreneurial journeys.
The top teams from the seminar (based on pitches) received support from the new Ventures Accelerator (through four workshops piloted this year). These workshops focused on helping Fellows with business ideas to gain customer traction, useful financial and business models as well as inexpensive, yet effective, marketing strategies. This formed a new phase in preparation of the final funding pitches that took place at the E2 Seminar, in conjunction with our Imbizo AGM on 6 and 7 September 2015.
The E2 judges were impressed with the quality of this year’s pitches, and Benjamin Shaw’s HouseMe service took the top prize of R50 000. Ben’s service is an innovative solution that optimises the rental market through an auction mechanism and other value-added services. Other finalists were Doug Hoernle’s MallApp, Kholofelo Moyaba’s Intelligent Mirror, Africanon (a database of African literature that is inaccessible on the retail market), and Sechaba Selialia’s Scoody fashion brand.
The Association now has over 20 full-time businesses started by Fellows and over 200 professionals applying their entrepreneurial skills in a wide range of South African corporates and sectors.
Future Startership initiatives will be focused on catalysing the impact of these Fellows in whatever spaces they operate in.