OPINION: A rickety bridge between startups and resources

As the South African market is attempted by various entrepreneurs aspiring to succeed, there is an evident gap between entrepreneurs and investors, accelerators and resource providers.

Interview anyone that knows a bit about the technological industry in South Africa, and it will become clear that there is no lack of innovation.

However, it seems that support is often either unaware of or invisible when it comes to entering the market.

This was evident at the latest Geek Girl Dinner in Cape Town, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Thursday, last week. Attended by anyone who has an interest in tech, but open to females in particular, a lot of the questions aimed at the panel clearly illustrated a lack of connection between those who start out and those who have the means of helping out.

Debate arose in the crowd when an anonymous attendee called out that it is really difficult to know how to do what is required to make it work when there is no support. Her statement was immediately countered with a reaction from the other side of the hall, saying there is enough help out there for everything from office space to funding, if only one looks out for it.

The subsequent response in defence of the initial complaint came from another woman, who was adamant about being an “expert googler” despite no findings of these companies or institutions offering support.

When speaking to entrepreneurs, who are generally in need of funding, the realisation comes that money is only the tip of the iceberg as mentorship on business decisions and other market-related challenges are in high demand.

The importance of networking events, such as Geek Girl Dinners, 27dinners and even 88mph’s Friday Drink Tank sessions are crucial as a platform for interaction which is vital for the growth of emerging businesses.

Especially in the tech industry where most interactions are online, and thus faceless, meeting up with those who know and can offer advice or more practical support is often key in the survival change of any startup.

While being an entrepreneur is essentially driven by initiative and success, an earned rather than granted status, any idea is in need of the right type of soil and input to make it grow.

Innovation can go far if South Africans who have made it reach down and pull those up in need of help because someone once did it for them.

Entrepreneurship is a great solution to challenges the South African economy faces, including high unemployment rates, poverty and lack of government support.

The sustainability of creating a network of support with open communication channels and willingness of an accommodating community will not only increase the chances of startup successes but also build a bridge from which the market can find a stable foundation.

Posted in: Startups

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