Africa Online: Check out “The Shift”

Technology is changing lives — even saving lives — in Africa, the world’s second most populous continent. For entrepreneurs, this also presents an opportunity of epic proportions.

In Rwanda, for example, where electricity is available to less than a quarter of the population, more than 60 percent of people now have access to mobile phones. And although only 8 percent of Rwandans are internet users, that number is growing rapidly.

In The Shift: The Entrepreneurs and Companies Bringing Africa Online, my good friend Elizabeth Gould who produced the Techstars documentary series on Bloomberg TV now reports on some of these inspiring stories of ingenuity and entrepreneurship in Africa. A production of BloombergTVAfrica, this will be an ongoing series about technology and entrepreneurship across Africa. In the first segment, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa are featured:

African entrepreneurship has really been moving forward for some time now. A while back I invested in a company called Mobius Motors, which is based in Kenya. Mobius designs, manufactures and sells durable, affordable vehicles designed for typical road terrain, usage and income profiles in the region. The company also makes transport platforms that local entrepreneurs can customize for various transportation businesses.

Here’s a second segment about Kenya’s mobile money revolution. It’s great stuff.

It’s exciting to hear about all the development taking place and the lives being improved across Africa, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the continent. I look forward to upcoming installments of “The Shift” with more compelling stories of the individuals and companies who are creating that future.

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Making Tech Stack Choices

I received this question today by email and I thought I would share my answer.

Here is my question. We are building a startup and are having to make a technology stack shift for reasons I can explain later. The startup is currently funded but we have a short time to put this together to receive more funding. Based on the skill set of the developers we have, we have chosen to go with .Net MVC 5 for a service layer, Mongo for a db, and knockout on the client side for an MVVM. One of the investors has advised us that .Net could be problematic for us when it came time for VC investors and a possible buyout later. The concern is that such investors or buyers will shy from a .Net based site. My question is simple? Is that true, has that been your experience and do you have any suggestions?

My answer was:

The answer is that yes, SOME investors and SOME acquirers will not be interested in .NET. Then again, some (for example Microsoft) will think it’s great! Don’t make tech choices based on potential exits or investors, make them on your ability to serve your customers. Create value, and things like investors and acquisitions take care of themselves. This is more likely to be an issue in a downside case, where your’e selling the company because you have to – that’s when things like tech stacks get considered as a major part of the equation. When it’s because you, your products, your customers and your data add tremendous value they’ll acquire you even if the code is written in MS BASIC with a BTRIEVE database. ;-)

Let me know in the comments if you disagree.

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Wha?!? A $5M business plan competition!

Wow, the folks in Buffalo are cranking it up. They’re created a $5M business plan competition. It’s called 43North and they will make the following awards:

1 $1m award
6 $500k awards
4 $250k awards

Head over and check it out. It looks amazing.

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Talking about startup communities at Startup Grind

Really fun time at Startup Grind. Thanks to them for putting on such a great even. Here’s the fireside chat from that event. These things never have real fires. I guess they don’t need that in California.

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1Q is too good to be true

I am an investor in a startup company called 1Q that can use your help and benefit you at the same time.  Sign up with 1Q and you (or a designated charity) receive $1 every time you respond to a multiple choice question sent to your cell phone via the app.  Companies pay $2 to 1Q for every response they receive.  Companies get market research from 1Q and you get paid.  Facebook, Linkedin, Google and other websites use your information to make money and none of them pay you.

You can receive questions based on the location of your residence, your current location and other variables.  For example, a question can be sent so that it is received only by 1Q members sitting in one of 31 NFL stadiums on a given Sunday; “Why do you drink Miller Lite?  A. Tastes great  B. Less filling  C. Not a fan  D. Never tried it.”  Companies receive a statistical breakdown of responses to their survey instantly.

You can register for 1Q at 1Q.com. If you have an iPhone or Android phone, access the link from your phone to download the free app.  Complete as much profile information as you like (the more information you include, the more questions you are likely to receive).  If you don’t have the app, questions will be sent to your cell phone by text message.

There will be a limited number questions sent to your phone during the startup phase but questions are expected to increase significantly in 2014.  If you like the app, forward this email to your friends.

One of the big questions I wanted to ask you as readers of this blog is that this is one of those things that sounds too good to be true, and many people automatically think it’s not legit. But it is. Would you use it? Why or why not? And how would you explain it differently?

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It’s Open Angel Forum #8 in Colorado!

November 18th, 2013 is the 8th open angel forum in Colorado. This is a simple dinner in Boulder with active angel investors. We usually have 4-5 companies pitch, and around 20-25 angel investors in attendance.  Open Angel Forum started because we think startups should never pay to pitch, and we prefer a simple dinner together to a more contrived event. There’s no cost to startups, and the format is simple and friendly.

Learn more at http://www.openangel.co/

Want to attend as an angel investor? Register here -> https://openangelforum.eventbrite.com/

Want to attend and pitch your startup to investors? ->  http://www.f6s.com/openangelforumboulder#/apply  (deadline Nov 5, 2013)

I hope to see you there on November 18th!

 

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