Startupbootcamp Cape Town’s FastTrack tours reach over 120 African startups

Startupbootcamp Cape Town may have opted to be based at the tip of Africa, but the accelerator is “aggressively” scouting for companies all over continent.

Philip Kiracofe (pictured), joint managing director at Startupbootcamp Cape Town, told Ventureburn that although the programme will operate from Cape Town it is very much a pan-African programme, having reached 120 African startups during the programme’s various FastTrack tours held between May and last month.

Through the FastTrack tours the organisation aims to actively source startups rather than merely waiting for people to apply.

Kiracofe said the best attended FastTrack was in Kampala where the organisation got more than 45 applications. Three companies from Uganda are among the top 20 finalists (out of 520 applications the programme received), he added.

The 10 startups selected for the accelerator will be announced on Tuesday August 8 in Cape Town.

“We are aggressively scouting for companies all over Africa. In the last three months, we have completed 15 trips in eight countries as part of the Fast Track tour. We have sat face to face with over 120 startups in cities from East and West Africa,” said Kiracofe.

FastTrack tours are being used to scout for and network with African startups

“We are solving pan-African challenges and our sponsors are all pan-African focused. It is just the Startupbootcamp model that you always have one city you operate out of and this happened to be the city where most of the sponsors were out of. By no means do we view ourselves as (only) a Cape Town programme,” he said.

‘Plenty of opportunities’

Kiracofe believes there are a plenty of opportunities in Africa and that startups from the continent were capitalising on these. He pointed out that the global population is expected to grow by four billion people and that 90% of these would be from Africa.

“So everything about Africa is going to scale three times or four times over what it is today and it is not possible to incrementally increase roads, food, clothing, water and money. Nothing grows incrementally,” he said.

“On the Fast Track tours we are finding African people with disruptive solutions to fairly mundane problems: logistics, transportation, sending money, (getting) food and water,” he said.

“Really good startups are not sitting around looking for programmes like ours, they are out there doing stuff, so the way to find them is by going out,” he added.

He said Startupbootcamp had started the FastTrack tours as a way to scout for startups and to communicate better with them. “Startups notoriously bad at explaining what they actually do and what their real value proposition is,” he said.

Connecting with corporates

FastTracks are also meant to serve as networking events where startups can connect corporates.

“The accelerator only has space for 10 companies, if we are going to move the needle in Africa, then 10 companies are trivial, they are a drop in the proverbial ocean,” said Kiracofe.

He said that although some of the startups that had taken part in the FastTrack Tours had not applied for the accelerator programme they had benefited from the conversations at the events.

“At the Fast Track events, our sponsors and mentors are present, these events present tangible business opportunities in a one day session. The startups come in and get some business advice which makes an impact on their value propositions, more importantly they get an introduction,” he said.

For example three startups got an opportunity from the CEO of Old Mutual’s West Africa division to go and present to his executive team. “FastTracks show that corporates are accessible,” said Kiracofe.

Featured image: Philip Kiracofe

Daniel Mpala


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