Not every African app is a company, experts

Not every new application programme grows into company if necessary business leadership skills are lacking, says Andrea Bohnstedt, an independent risk analyst.

Bohnstedt, speaking at the Ignite Summit yesterday in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, said techpreneurs should take advantage of the business knowledge of their investors if they were to take their developments to the next level.

“The unfortunate thing about most startups in Africa is that they are formed by techies, who sit behind a computer screen the whole day working on brilliant ideas,” she said.

“However, there is a missing link to educate these people on how to turn a good idea or app into good companies.”

Though investors are providing capital to fund these ideas, Bohnstedt says most techpreneurs lack knowledge when it comes to matters of good corporate governance to market their apps.

“We’ve seen many cases where people come up with very good ideas, but that’s just it, good ideas,” she continued.

Bohnstedt, who is also the publisher of Ratio Magazine, says that most innovators are still reluctant to exploit the rich business ideas that investors bring with them as they invest in their startups.

“They try to resist these ideas, and try to work on their own, something that does not always end well,” she said. “These people (investors) have been in the business of investing for a long time, been there, and seen it all. They must have a lot of first hand experiences on good or bad business management, something that innovators can richly benefit from.”

She urged innovators to try to learn as much as possible from the investors as they grow their ideas into sustainable businesses.

For their part, investors have started to realise the existence of this missing link and are going a step further in mentoring the startups, teaching developers good corporate governance and marketing skills.

Kresten Buch, founder of 88mph, an African seed fund accelerator, agrees with Bohnstedt.

“There is need to link the techies with more experienced business people, to help them scale their business ideas into companies,” he says. “This is something we are now focusing more on, something that will increase the traction of the startups, and attract more investors.”

Aside from investing in startups with potential, 88mph runs three-month accelerator projects enabling developers to learn from mentors in business and build their companies.

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