Building Your Team of Advisors

by: Angel Nonye-John on

With tech startups and social enterprises, it’s not uncommon to see a board of advisors. While it’s known to be an essential part of the startup team, early stage founders often have many questions about startup advisors and what they provide. From the day to day, the Mansa Colabs team has noticed recurring themes and questions about advisors.

Who are startup advisors?

Advisors come from all sectors and have a variety of experience. Typically, they have expertise or experience that the founders lack. Advisors haven’t necessarily started their own startup or social enterprise. You should look for advisors with strong expertise in a particular domain and look at an entrepreneurial background as a plus.

What do startup advisors do?

Have you ever wondered how you should develop your cross market entry strategy in Nigeria or UX design? While you can just attempt trial and error, guessing with your strategy can be costly and possibly finish startup resources. Advisors play the role of a sounding board. They can advise you based on their experience and observations in a particular country or sector. Apart from being a mentor of sorts, the best startup advisors will have access to large networks of prospective strategic partners, team members, clients and investors.

How to compensate startup advisors?

It depends. See your relationship with your advisor as a long term deal. At first, your team of advisors will probably be unpaid. However, as your company grows and they deliver, you should compensate them in some way. Also, advisors are also best positioned to possibly invest in their advisee companies.

How do I find advisors?

First, decide what kind of advisors you need. Map out your learning needs or skills gap and identify 2-3 types of advisors for your startup. Start tapping into your existing networks. Think about people who you have met through mutual acquaintances or events. Make you and your advisors are clear about expectations and commitment.

How can Mansa Colabs help?

Here at Mansa Colabs, we have a Virtual Advisory Service (VAS) for smaller advisory support for startups in Africa and the Diaspora. Through our VAS, we match early stage startups and social enterprises with advisors in our network through a month-to-month subscription model. We charge a minimal fee for the VAS subscription. For those interested in more hands-on advisory, like conducting market research in Ghana or business development in the Diaspora, we work with the individual startup to create a mutually beneficial arrangement. 

To inquire about our advisory services email us at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday Roundup

by: Angel Nonye-John on

Photo: Genii Games, 2015 

From games culturally inspired games to solutions for talent acquisition, the news from the tech scene is thinking local.

Blooming Gaming Industry: Locally produced and focused gaming companies are cropping up all over the continent. With industries such as Nigeria’s expected to grow 20 % annually, game developers are optimistic about the industry outlook. - Via SmartMonkey TV

Hubs Must Act Like Startups: AfriLabs director, Tayo Akinyemi addressed the value and  business models of existing hubs. While many are serving the local communities needs, the activities and services on their roster don’t lead to long term sustainability. - Via Disrupt Africa

Finding Great Talent: Don’t find and keep great talent by making them sign their lives away. Instead, be well rounded, supplement pay with passion, and always pay on time. - Via Harvard Business Review

Open Access & Ebola: Many of us are familiar with the current uses of open access software during the Ebola crisis. But it doesn’t end there. Doctors have benefited from open access scientific journals that would otherwise be costly or difficult to access. - Via Tech Dirt

Tech in the Wild: iHub ventured out to Tsavo, Kenya to assist rangers in anti-poaching efforts.  A team’s experience developing mobile app to combat poaching - Via iHub

Stories We Like

Three South African artists create blog portraying SA in their eyes - Via Destiny Man

Infographic shows where Africa’s mobile money fits globally -Via Memeburn

Let us know articles you would like to see in the next newsletter on our Facebook or Twitter.


Insight: Mobile and E-Commerce Moving Forward

by: Angel Nonye-John on

It is increasingly common to read about the rise of e-commerce in Africa. Although e-commerce is not currently the most profitable industry for investment, the growing middle class provides strong opportunity and potential. Additionally, mobile commerce, consumer attitudes and tech developments are making e-commerce an industry that transcends class barriers.

Here are 4 insights about the future of mobile and e-commerce in Africa:

Increasing Consumer Optimism: A number of reports such as Ten Things to Know About African Consumers from BCG have noted that consumer optimism is on the rise. Consumers across the continent have a positive future outlook on their local economies and personal finances. A recent poll by NOI Poll, a Nigerian polling service, showed that Nigerians are positive and hopeful about their economic situation despite Naira devaluation and depressed crude oil prices.

Service Apps That Are Better Focused: It seems like there is a new and creative service app everyday. While they do provide solutions to concrete issues in the service industry, these businesses will have to think beyond the multiplicity of service hangups. As Brian Ascher highlights, though the Uber/Airbnb model has the ability to disrupt other service industries, consumers will not find convincing value in every tech solution. While the economic landscape in Africa is changing, most people devote their income to housing, food and education. These companies will need to focus on their consumer and test the best ways to add value.

Infrastructure: This point really doesn’t need an introduction. Lagging infrastructure will continue to be an issue for the mobile and e-commerce industry, especially delivery service platforms. However, the story isn’t all doom and gloom. OkHi is a Kenyan company tackling the sparsity of physical addresses. We wish them luck and hope to hear about other companies taking a unique approach to develop infrastructure.

First, there was the mobile device: Unlike their western counterparts, the majority of African consumers were introduced and acquainted with mobile devices before personal computers. This pattern will be an advantage for mobile commerce companies because building consumer trust will be less of a battle. Even so, internet privacy and security will need to be addressed moving forward.

Well enough from us. We want to hear from you?

What are your viewpoints on the future of mobile and e-commerce? How does it apply to your start up?

Engage with us on our twitter or facebook!

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