Don’t ask for money

Demo Day

Yesterday, the Co-Creation Hub held a demo day for ten startups. The point of most demo days is to ask for money. But not this demo. The startups at the CcHub-led and Intel-funded Growth Academy were asking for advice. Sort of. They were demonstrating their ventures to potential strategic partners like Rack, MainOne, Accion Microfinance, Oracle, a couple telcos (I forget which), and more.

Agatha Gikunda, Intel

Agatha Gikunda, Software and Services Lead, Intel East Africa

I really dig the idea of pitching to well-heeled strategic partners. Not everytime ask for funding. Sometimes, ask for support, advise. You know what they say. Ask for money and you get advise…but ask for advise, and you get money? Yeah, that.

The funny thing is a lot of startups would kill for a chance to get a meeting with MainOne, MTN et al to discuss possible strategic partnerships. Instead, I saw executives from these companies making direct overtures to specific startups. If you stared hard enough, you could see the lightbulbs go on in their heads. For the average startup, getting to this point would usually take hours of waiting outside in a humid reception over months. 98 percent of the time, all the waiting is for nought. Here, these connections were happening in minutes.

The other remarkable thing is that this “demo day” is happening after the Growth Academy startups have been in the programme for just one week. “This is the beginning of a 3 month process”, said Femi Longe, at the end of the pitch session.

Flipping the accelerator/demo model on its head means that potential partners (and funders) have been introduced to the startups at a stage in the 3 month acceleration timeline that makes a lot of sense for all concerned. For the ones that pan out, the benefits of said partnerships will begin to manifest before the programme elapses. Way to go, CcHub!

Want to meet all ten Growth Academy startups? The list is here on TechCabal.

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