The journey of Entrepreneurship is not an easy one. Mainly when you are young, not rich and “fool” of ideas. But being an African abroad wanting to go back to Africa, I told myself that this is essential. Then I started to walk in the valley of the unknown. Even though I am young and still inexperienced, I would like to share a part of my story, knowing that someone can be inspired by one way or another.
The myth of the idea
Most of people start with an idea. Me, I had a lot already. Since Ouagadougou, I remember writing ideas I had in a paper notebook and now I have a lot of those. I even write in piece of paper that I put in my wallet(crazy right?). But the thing with being an Entrepreneur is not about having an idea, I believe it’s more about the actions you undertake in order to make your ideas become a reality. It is easy to understand it for someone who can speak some French. The verb that comes from “entrepreneur” is “entreprendre” which means “undertake”. If you know the meaning of “undertaking”, you will be close to the idea I have about an Entrepreneur. “Promise to do a particular thing”, “commit oneself to and begin (an enterprise or responsibility)”, all those are what an Entrepreneur should be doing. It is not about being successful, not about being rich, not about having an idea. It is about committing yourself to make your idea a reality. And there is no formula to be able to do that, there is no learning to be Entrepreneur. I believe being an Entrepreneur is a transformation. You transform yourself, you change your mindset and sometimes even your lifestyle. So it’s not an easy thing, that is why few people effectively become Entrepreneur. I am not even sure to be Entrepreneur and I don’t think about being Entrepreneur, I just promised myself that I want to realise this and I am doing my best to keep my promise.
The myth of getting rich
In order to be rich, I decided to do business, not entrepreneurship. I believe that an Entrepreneur has to learn to be a Businessman. Yes, those two words have different meaning. One objective of the Businessman is to make a lot of money in short time, they are the one who have the profit. One objective of the Entrepreneur is to make an idea come true, they are the one who have the passion. I am learning to be in the middle, to put my businessman suit or my entrepreneur tee-shirt when I need too. With this business mind added to my job income, I fund myself my own ideas as an entrepreneur. Because hey, not everyone get funding by an investor.
The Taiwanese Investors Funnel
I live in Taiwan currently. And as an African “fool” of ideas, I used to believe that I can meet an angel who can fund my projects. Yes there are some angels in Taiwan. But either you are Taiwanese, either you are in an ecosystem which already protect the investor (professional investor). Most of the projects I have (actually all), are for the African continent. In my little experience of meeting investors in Taiwan, I saw there are 4 stages they have to overcome before they can accept to accompany you.
The first stage: Awareness
The 1st stage, for most of them, is for those who don’t know Africa. For them, the western world (歐美 O-Mei) is the place for business and Africa is filled by the desert, the forest, a lot of animals and few naked indigenous playing with Lion pets. Believe me, I met some who told me “my dream is to go to Africa to see a giraffe”. Those Taiwanese match with the general idea people have about Africa. Luckily, my friends Weichen and Pepe, are doing their best to clear those misconceptions about it, with their wowAfrica.
The second stage: Interest
The 2nd stage is for those investors who actually know Africa, they think they know what they are interested in, but they actually don’t know what they want. Those investors don’t listen to you and to what you have to say. They are impatient for you to finish so they can talk about some ideas they have. A typical example would be when you talk about this technology product you want to build and later the “investor” asks if you know someone in solar energy or if there is a stock market in Africa (lool). If you are not careful, you will probably end up jumping from ideas to ideas with every time a promise for investment.
The third stage investors: Decision
Here is when things start to be interesting. The 3rd stage investors are interested about what you present and they want to help you. But the thing is they know nothing about you. Those are the investors you should keep in touch with. You will probably meet some for a lunch or a dinner, so that he can know more about your life. Just get ready for the typical questions (Why did you come in Taiwan, What does your parents do for living, How many brothers and sisters you have, yes everything they want to know). But it will be the opportunity to know more about your leadership skills, your team if you have, your background, etc etc.
The fourth stage investors: Action
Now that they know you, they need to trust you. They will start helping you in some ways. But what I noticed is that when he/she will decide to invest, they will not do so because your idea is great, they will do so because of you. They invest in you (and your team), not in your idea. This is a much bigger investment. Taiwan is not like the US where people gamble on your project, even if they try to do so with some competitions or environments like Taiwan Startup Stadium, at least not like this for foreigners. If you are lucky to win a competition, this is great. Otherwise, it is not simple to get an investment in Taiwan. Even in the world, how many entrepreneurs get funding ? less then 1%. Read by yourself
Beyond the money
And why do you even want to look for an investment ? Is it really necessary ? Normally, you should be able to build your startup little by little without investment, right? Instead of finding investment, I decided to find support. And I found a lot of support: advices from experienced people, take-away discussions about your ideas, connections who can help you or bring you value. This support allowed me to shape my journey, to take better decisions, to move forward, to always have an option. Still now, some people contact me and say “hey Amon, I found this video about something that can help you in your idea”. Those kind of support are much more valuable than the money you can get from someone. In addition, I decided to invest in myself. I never hesitate to spend money for a training I find important. I do my best to participate to exhibitions, forums, conferences: this is where you can find ideas to improve your idea, people to be interested in your idea.
If there is only one thing I wish you take from this article, it’s to “be focused”. As young people, we easily jump from ideas to ideas, projects to projects or doing a lot of things at the same time, spending our energy where there is little impact. And most of the time, without even finishing what we plan to do. We are always first to give ideas and last to go for its execution. We should learn to focus on few things at a time. To focus in a time and a space. And focusing one for example an idea will amaze you because you will witness all the changes, the steps, the evolution of your idea from zero to one, one to hero. Focusing is skill I still fight to get and not to loose.
Start up yourself
After all, the most important thing besides your idea, your journey, what you want for your life, the most important, is “you”. Most of the thing you want will require you to change yourself. And seriously, how do you want to change the world if you cannot change yourself ? Yes. You have an idea, you want to create your startup. That’s great, but know that you will have to startup yourself by one way or another. Entrepreneurship is a journey. Pack your bag and hit the road.
With the lovely review of Filza Lenia Sambo.comments powered by Disqus