Unlocking Startup Success in Africa's Tech Scene

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SDS 033: Unlocking Startup Success in Africa's Tech Scene

Hey! thank you for reading issue 033 of Startup Definition Sunday (SDS).

SDS is the newsletter for new & aspiring founders, bringing you clarity one actionable tip at a time.

SDS arrives every two weeks (you guessed it) on Sundays.

In every issue you can expect:

  • 1 actionable tip you can implement right away

  • 1 article you should read

  • 1 gift for founders

Thanks to the folks at Beehiiv for sponsoring today’s issue:

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Let's dive in:

(P.S. I'll never sell your information, ever)


Welcome to today's issue of SDS.

Writing to you every two weeks brings me great joy.

In case you missed the most recent issue, you can find it here.

I've been working on some new ideas for founders who are fundraising and busy professionals looking to build an audience.

Starting in March, I'll be sharing updates on these ideas in a new section exclusively for subscribers.

I'm eagerly looking forward to your feedback as I develop these ideas with you.

It has been a whirlwind two weeks since I last wrote to you.

Two weeks ago was the Africa Tech Summit here in Nairobi, a gathering of hundreds of founders and investors.

Last week, I attended the ARM Labs Techstars Lagos Accelerator demo day for their second cohort in Lagos.

One of the highlights of both weeks was the opportunity to meet and speak with founders at various happy hours and events.

Whether in Nairobi or Lagos, I noticed a trend among first-time founders who shared their ideas with me.

Most pre-product pitches were making the same mistakes.

Before you build a product or pitch an investor, understanding these three things is vital.

Competition: Every founder knows that a pitch deck must include a competition slide. I have even written about how to show your competitive advantage more effectively before. You can read it here. However, that is not what I am referring to here. Too many founders rush to build a product before truly understanding the existing competition. Before developing the product, it's invaluable to spend time understanding what other players are doing. Studying the competitive landscape is an easy way to find out what hasn't worked. I've met several really smart founders who are reinventing a broken wheel when they have the opportunity to build a whole new vehicle based on the successes and failures of their competitors.

Market size: As an investor in Africa, a good chunk of my due diligence is spent verifying the market size of opportunities. Consider this: two cities in India - Delhi and Mumbai - have populations equal to the entire country of Kenya. Not enough founders spend time figuring out if the addressable market of their solution is large enough to warrant raising VC money. VC money requires VC returns, which can't happen without a large or growing market size. While pitching investors may seem productive, before developing the product, it's better to determine if the market is large enough to warrant going through the fundraising marathon.

Speak to customers: Related to the above point, despite what social media posts may say, investors are not the most important stakeholder for your company. Your customer is the most important stakeholder. Before building a product or pitching another investor, spend time asking your customers effective questions about your product. If you have a product that customers love and pay for, investors will not be far behind.

Now, allow me to offer my two pesewas:

Spending time doing the unsexy things like market sizing or going out to ask customers questions may seem like a waste.

If you do these three things well, the investor conversations at the next Africa Tech Summit will be a lot more productive. I can guarantee that.

If you or someone you know should be receiving 2024 issues in their inbox, consider joining SDS so you don't miss exclusive sections in future editions.

What'd you think of today's edition?

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If you only read one thing this week, read this...

A short read from the team at Hustle Fund titled: Why you should not outsource customer onboarding.

Why is it worth your time? One, it is a quick read. Two, the article makes a strong point on why founders should personally spend time onboarding customers, especially for the first customers.

Founder's Corner

As an investor, I know how challenging it can be for founders to get noticed by angel investors, especially without the right connections.

That's why I created an inbound form to allow founders to share their decks directly with me. It takes less than 5 minutes to complete. By breaking the mold and providing an alternative way for founders to connect with investors, I hope to help level the playing field.

That's all for today! As always, thank you for being an engaged reader.

Until we meet again in two weeks, here's how we can stay in touch:

  • 🐦 Find me on Twitter

  • πŸ’¬ Hit me up on Linkedin

  • πŸ’Œ Email me

  • πŸš€ Sponsor SDS (Reply to this email)

I’ll see you in two weeks,



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