OPINION: Startup success the new financial ‘fallback’?

OPINION: Startup success the new financial ‘fallback’?

As the startup community grows on the African continent, the new buzzword for school leavers could become ‘entrepreneurship’ rather than ‘university’, ‘college’ or perhaps even ‘gap year’.

With daunting unemployment statistics in countries such as South Africa, even scholars with a degree or three are not guaranteed the job their parents recommended them to study for.

Even more importantly, the job they were thinking of for themselves to be successful in is making life a burden rather than an opportunity of self-accomplishment.

Furthermore, tertiary institutions do not have enough seats to meet the demand for afterschool education.

As the lack of self-enrichment opportunities in the traditional way is evident, experience offered by self-starting can potentially mean more in the market than book knowledge.

Matt Pretorius, BComm student at the University of Stellenbosch, has started an event series called PitchIN Stellenbosch through which students are encouraged to pitch their business ideas.

The university has started a Stellenbosch Ideas competition with the same purpose, also offering support to winning ideas through a panel of experienced entrepreneurs as mentoring judges.

Speaking to HumanIPO at the INSAINe breakfast, he said the knowledge learnt through university courses is often experienced as lacking the practical aspect when it comes to industry engagement.

Although nerves of steel, determination and active innovation are key ingredients to a successful startup, no one can keep a business from being established as long as regulations are respected.

An idea solving a gap in the market does not only supply an opportunity for employment, but also adds value to a community, making an entrepreneur a necessary role player in the ecosystem of society.

Taking into regard the life changing, life simplifying or life enhancing solutions offered by startups from the African soil within the last few years, the entrepreneurial journey is a worthwhile pursuit.

The older generation may still be weary of its lack of security as the adventurous path of an aspiring businessman or -woman with an idea to drive his or her path forward without the guarantee of riches.

However, sitting around waiting for an opportunity has never made anyone any wealthier.

The venture capital scene on the continent is still unsure and stingy in some aspects with understandably risk-averse investors.

However, interest from abroad is growing together with the success of startup accelerators equipping and mentoring young ideas into established revenue models of success stories.

Entry into the market through the road formerly less-travelled in an individual capacity is becoming a growing trend as the community grows, also offering more support in tech hub spaces such as Jozi Hub, the Bandwidth Barn and even BlackBerry labs in South Africa.

Similar developments across African countries, especially on the tech scene, offers opportunities to developers, hackers and other techpreneurs to build businesses for themselves and create job offers for locals around them, joining the startup revolution.

Though failure may be part of the process, the attitude of never giving up can add every step or misstep as an important experiential addition to the road of accomplishment.

Collaborations can also help in building stronger teams as networks form an organic sustainable support structure through exchanging ideas, introducing contacts and sharing solutions.

Furthermore, the choice of a technology startup is invaluable as it breaches cultural and geographical borders in the online and mobile space, which offers international opportunities.

Eric Edelstein, serial techpreneur and co-founder of Zunguz, believes coding should be taught to children from a young age as this can lead to a job placement anywhere.

One need not wait to graduate to start entrepreneurial exploration as inspiration can lead to success at any stage once action in the direction of business engagement is taken.

Marc Elias, founder at startup accelerator Seed Engine, believes a startup can begin on the side and flourish under the nurturing of skills and hard work.

Society’s mentality about a future career could be as open as its ideas attached to success are and the records of thriving locally-built businesses.

Posted in: Startups

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