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Seedstars, a Swiss-based organisation that supports startups in emerging markets, is looking to “analyse” the possibility of expanding its co-working offering Seedspace within Nigeria, Romulo Navarrete, head of operations at Seedspace, a Seedstars initiative has revealed.
Seedspace currently has seven hubs, with three of these located in Africa — in Lagos, Nigeria; Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Cape Town, South Africa.
“In terms of the best-performing (Seedspace) hub (in Africa), I’d say Seedspace Lagos is by far the best and this might be because of the potential that Nigeria has an entrepreneurial ecosystem and also because in Lagos we deploy pretty much all our Seedstars activities,” he told Ventureburn.
Seedstars is looking to “analyse” the possibility of expanding its co-working offering Seedspace within Nigeria
The organisation is aiming to open 15 new Seedspaces globally this year, Navarrete revealed last week ahead of the launch of new co-working site Seedspace Cairo last Friday (4 May).
In an emailed Q&A, Ventureburn interacted with Navarrete to find out more.
Ventureburn: Have you had any applications for any local and foreign entrepreneurs and co-workers looking to be based at Seedspace Cairo?
Romulo Navarrete: So far we have four different teams occupying the space (as of a week before the launch – ed).
Within these teams, we have a mobile payment startup, a film streaming platform bringing foreign-language films available in Egypt, a marketing agency, and a software company. Also, we are hosting our Seedstars Academy programme in-house, where we train talents to co-create startups with us.
VB: What co-working sites does Seedstars have in Africa?
RN: We have Lagos, Nigeria; Abidjan, Ivory Coast (launched in February); Cape Town, South Africa; Cairo, Egypt. Casablanca (Morocco) is planned for this mid-year (June or July). They are all brand new hubs with the exception of Cape Town in which we did a joint venture with an existing co-working space.
VB: How are the hubs in Africa performing so far?
RN: In Abidjan we have around 20 or more members and itinerant digital nomads that come to stay at our co-living area. We also have a Seedstars Academy focused in edtech to tackle the access to good education challenge for Ivorians.
In Cape Town we have 50 or more members that range from startups, to SMEs and freelancers, not only South African but with a very large community of expats that have foreseen the opportunities in the city: this really adds a lot to the cultural mix we always have loved! Furthermore, we are receiving a group of 20 or more digital nomads in the second semester.
In Lagos we have over 90 members.
VB: You say that the aim is to have 15 hubs around the world by the end of this year. Where in Africa will you open next?
RN: Our next opening is Casablanca, Morocco and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
VB: What so far has been the best performing Seedspace (in terms of number of participants and startups assisted and revenue earned by Seedstars)?
RN: In terms of best-performing hub, I’d say Seedspace Lagos is by far the best and this might be because of the potential that Nigeria has an entrepreneurial ecosystem and also because in Lagos we deploy pretty much all our Seedstars activities.
We not only have a physical hub with co-working and co-living (co-living for the moment reserved for the internal staff) but also run a Seedstars Academy (training talent for venture building), Seedstars Growth (acceleration programme), Seedstars World (startup pitch competition) and we are the home for two ventures that we created in the fintech industry: QuickCheck (micro-lending platform) and InvoizPaid (factoring).
No wonder also that we have several finalists for the Seedstars World competition that are from Nigeria! For this performance, we are looking to analyze the possibility of expanding within Nigeria.
VB: What should those looking to partner with Seedstars and then get their hub or co-working space rebranded as a Seedspace know?
RN: We are quite open to discuss with potential partners and dig in further to have an agreement that best suits the interests of both parties.
The most important aspect of the conversation is definitely the cultural fit and alignment with the vision. We are looking for partners that, just like us, believe that entrepreneurship and technology can indeed make a difference in emerging markets and that they walk the talk.
From having a similar view on the business, then we jump into the specifics of the business of having a hub.
We want to make an impact but we are fully aware that we need to be sustainable, and for this we have some “real state” requirements: spaces over 1000 square metres, in emerging ecosystems and strategically located within the city. We then have a team dedicated to analyse the feasibility of the project.
VB: What should owners of these spaces bring to the table for Seedstars? What kind of support do you get from Seedstars as an owner?
RN: In terms of what we bring to the table, we bring a proven business-model together with central services, such as marketing, people operations and finance.
This helps all the spaces to be aligned and suppresses a burden for the local entity, and most importantly, we bring our global community of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, press and corporates interested in innovation.
If ever somebody wants to enter into a conversation (with us on this) they can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Editor’s note (11 May 2018): In an email in November last year Seedspace Cape Town lead Nathan Heller told Ventureburn that there were currently Seedspaces in Durban, Nairobi and Addis Ababa. However, these are no longer listed by Seedstars as part of the Seedspace network.
Heller explained in an email this week that there was an affiliate model in progress at the time, but that this is no longer the case and that the organisation now has “a much clearer and more permanent own hub model and partnering with existing hubs eg Cape Town taking place”.