Broaden your horizons, Okolloh tells Kenyan startups

Broaden your horizons, Okolloh tells Kenyan startups

Ory Okolloh (CC image courtesy of DCI Moblog on Flickr)

Kenyan startups need to look at organisations other than tech firms who could benefit from their services, and look at business-to-business (B2B) opportunities rather than only business-to-consumer (B2C), according to Ory Okolloh of Omidyar Network.

Ushahidi co-founder Okolloh, who now leads Omidyar Network’s investments and transparency programmes in Africa and was recently named in the 2014 TIME 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, told the second Startup Grind event in Nairobi startups needed to diversify in terms of who they speak to in order to identify gaps that need filling and monetise.

She said there was a need for more cross sector activity for the tech sector to grow.

“There is too much talk, ignoring tech problems that could get you paid and give you a platform to do other things,” she said, saying she felt startups should talk with small businesses to see what service they can offer them rather than their fellow tech startups.

Okolloh also said Kenyan startups needed to follow the example of their Nigerian counterparts by focusing not only on but looking to work with other businesses. She said Nigerian startups had succeeded with this in spite of problems such as frequent power blackouts, lack of payments and insecurity, which she said have made Nigerian techpreneurs savvier and sharper in the market.

She also compared startups in Kenya with those in South Africa, where she said entrepreneurs were creative thinkers who were also bold, though in a conservative market not ready to take up the new innovations being churned out.

Conversely, Okolloh said, Kenyan startups lacked the boldness but their market was not as conservative.

“If we are thinking bigger and bolder we will grab it and run away with it,” she said.

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