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There are no Facts Inside Your Building

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

Winner of 2018 SeedStar Competition

There are no facts inside your building. Welcome to this week’s edition of the SKA Newsletter- providing quotes, quick updates, and a curated list of good articles on important events and interesting stories. This week we have a couple updates on Steve Blank’s Customer Discovery Model that we are following for our flagship project Vumbua along with profiling a very interesting company doing good work in an emerging market, and of course, at the end, you’ll find links to articles, videos, and upcoming events. “What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.”                                                                                 - Dave Thomas, Wendy’s founder

Storm King Happenings & Other Updates

Update #1 There really is no rest for the wicked…… in his third workshop in three weeks, Dan Evans attended the Seedstars Summit, the world's largest grand finale competition for startups focusing on emerging markets, held at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale(EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. While there, he was able to introduce the Vumbua concept to groups of potential investors, in a separate event from the main pitch competition which was a great experience and garnered some valuable feedback.
The EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland. There were tons of impressive startups in attendance from all around the world. The overall winner was agrocenta, a Ghanaian startup that connects small farmers directly to an online market, cutting out layers of suspect middlemen and enabling the small farmer to sell their goods at a fair market price. Agrocenta also supplies market information to farmers so they know the current market prices and are empowered to make smart decisions. Additionally, agrocenta runs a transportation firm that transports the goods directly from the farmer to the buyer.

Update #2 

As we’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, the SKA team is a  huge fan of serial entrepreneur and fellow Veteran, Steve Blank, and we are using his roadmap to build our flagship project Vumbua. The first step of this four-step process is Customer Discovery- interviewing and learning from potential customers, which in this case are private equity and venture capitalist that invest in frontier/emerging markets. The team has interviewed a handful of financial firms in New York City and has already captured some great insights from leading practitioners in the industry. We’ll use these insights to tailor our product to address the biggest pain points firms face when investing in emerging markets.

A few key insights from the potential customers we interviewed:

  • There is no “one answer” to how firms conduct their market intelligence and due diligence process. One thing that is clear: Acquiring reliable and real-time information about Emerging Markets is difficult, costly, and time-consuming.

  • Emerging and Frontier Markets pose significant challenges to both investors & businesses: reputational risk, links to corruption, being on the wrong side of ‘politics’

  • Concern about tail risk ...what are we missing? Tail risk is the possibility that an investment will move more than three standard deviations. Potential links to corruption keep them up at night.  

  • Site visits are important but need to be effective...where do they spend their time to be most effective?

  • We heard lots of stories of “people who are not what they seem…”

  • And perhaps most importantly...validating Steve Blank’s mantra to talk to the customers, we have discovered an entire sector of opportunity that we, based on our backgrounds had limited prior knowledge: Regulatory compliance. During one of our initial interviews, we discovered that a medium-sized asset manager spent over $3M in a year to comply with regulations mandated by the Patriot Act called Know Your Customer (KYC) and other Anti-Money Laundering regulations. This complaint has been echoed numerous times since then….bingo.

Geopolitics Africa opens its borders to Free Trade (Fair Observer) 80 business leaders accompany Mnangagwe to China (Chronicle)

Emerging Markets Zimbabwe plans sale of state-owned businesses to cut spending (BusinessDay)

Tech of the Future Blockchain solving African problems as adaptation grows (Moguldom)  

Random Heavy rains in Kenya reveal a crack that shows Africa will Split into two continents(Quartz)  

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