Saunders spoke at the INSAINe breakfast in Stellenbosch, on Friday, April 26, about launching a startup and being prepared for the risks of entrepreneurship.
HumanIPO reported earlier this month on the PitchIN events and its partnerships to assist youthful entrepreneurs in launching their ideas as businesses.
“Tech entrepreneurs assume everyone likes computers, but most people hate it because they don’t understand,” Saunders told the attendees.
He recommends practical exposure in combination with academic courses with IT-focused degree programs as a solution.
“Practical experience can have an enormous impact, and it is something that is not encouraged or supported enough in South Africa and in computer science related courses in particular,” he said.
Furthermore, he recommended tech internships at established companies to connect with the industry.
“Young innovators should interact with a broad variety of companies as the interaction can bring a change in attitude which is very important.”
Speaking to HumanIPO, Saunders said: "There is a cognitive gap… between the inventor and the user."
Acknowledging the challenge for a single individual to see all the perspectives, he deems this skill as a demand when it comes to innovative businesses.
Saunders said: “A diverse team is a necessity for bringing services and products to the market.”
He recommended entrepreneurs build a business model according to real data. “Think how the world works,” he said.
It is also wise to consider all the “what ifs” to cover the business for future possibilities.
“Think in scenarios, but don’t play God,” the South African entrepreneur, who worked previously on an oil refinery startup in Saudi Arabia, advised.
He warned startups against being too optimistic and pointed out a business should be built on a “shared understanding”.
The key ideas of the enterprise under development should be based on what really matters as “the key features can make or break your startup”.
He added: “Know what you can change, but [see] what can make a difference.”
He deems failures useful in experience and for predicting potential issues which can be planned to overcome in advance.
“Anyone who’s been through a failed startup can play devil’s advocate”.