Ideas don’t sell – African startups need proper business skills

Michele Grosso, the founder and CEO of insurance company Democrance, believes that startups in Africa lack business skills. This is one of the observations he made while serving as the on-the-bus mentor for Ampion Venture Bus initiative.

In a chat at the lobby of Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos, Nigeria Grosso told Ventureburn that even though startups in Africa are passionate about their ventures, they often lack the business skills that are expected in a person trying to run these types of businesses.

“This is probably due in part to lack of proper business education; they don’t have access to a wide international business community except at events like DEMO Africa which don’t happen every day,” he said.

But he admitted that our startups guys in Africa are hardworking — and their drive is unparalleled.

“The drive that I saw in Africa, the drive and hardworking spirit that I see in Africa spread across the countries and I have never seen such in other parts of the world. It is amazing,” he said.

Read more: Ampion Venture Bus: an NGO’s mission to drive impactful innovation in Africa

But it’s a gospel truth that drive and hard work are not always enough to guarantee the success of an African startup which was why Grosso said startups need some fundamental components for them to even be thinking of probably succeeding.

Ideas don’t sell

Considering the fact that several required (or desired) components of the ideal startup ecosystem are missing or are inconsistent in Africa, Grosso gave an insight into something he knows much about — mentoring African startups.

He said while a lot of startups are born out of pure idea, an idea itself doesn’t sell:

An idea can be the best in the world but if it doesn’t answer a real and existing problem in the society, the idea doesn’t help. The primary role of the mentor is to understand the idea and to help the team go through the process of deleting the idea and start from the problem the idea is trying to solve in the target market. Then you build up the idea, then you build the product.

According to him, entrepreneurs would also need access to mentors’ experience that would help in preparing them to face the external world.

Paul Adepoju


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