I've never been to Dar Es Salaam, but I imagine that methodologies that spark innovation there will be just as useful in Germany or in Amsterdam. This is especially true when the broadly-based idea that makes virtually all startups alike is that they lack resources, but that their teams are not short of the ideas and the guts and muscle to make anything work.
Microsoft BizSpark has been choosing several of these Africa-based startups to interview to highlight what makes the lessons these startups learn on a daily basis similar to those faced by startups worldwide. You can see some of those startup interviews here and on our Facebook community page. You can also go to the DEMO Africa conference page, if you have not already signed up to attend DEMO Africa.
This is Natalino Mwenda, who is acting CEO of Rasello, a company he hopes to pitch at DEMO Africa on October 24-26 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Natalino answered a couple of questions for us in the run up to DEMO.
What have you learned about managing a technological business that you would pass on to the next generation?
The foundation of any successful business is a good idea that addresses a consumer need or desire; however, a good idea alone is not always enough to launch a successful business, and your first good idea is not always the greatest. Because technology and the world around us are so dynamic, innovators and managers also need to be flexible to evolve their ideas and businesses accordingly. The Rasello today is different from the initial concept of Rasello. Our company’s evolution is the result of an ongoing process of idea refinement through feedback from our early users and through our network of mentors who have provided invaluable advice and support. One of the important pieces of advice imparted to us is that when you are resource constrained, a good approach to building a business is an incremental approach (i.e., focusing on one key functionality at a time) guided by the larger vision for the company. Finally, managing and growing a technology business is not easy, so having a supportive network of family and friends around you to encourage and support you, particularly in the face of adversity, is really important.
Has starting your own company provided any answers about your life? Have you discovered something about yourself that you didn’t know before?
The journey of developing Rasello has been a time of a lot of personal growth and insights. It has taught us that no dream is too big, and that they can only be realized through a conscious decision to wholeheartedly commit ourselves to making the dream into something tangible. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to achieving your dreams is belief in yourself. Rasello was an idea in my head for months before a friend nudged me to develop it further. If you are able to overcome the self-limiting hurdle, nothing is unachievable if you apply hard work and dedication with a little luck. Rasello was dreamt up on the streets of Dar es Salaam and is now a platform currently utilized across Africa (and beyond) by businesses to gain insights about their consumers and communicate to them.