Tips on successful application to launch your startup at DEMO Africa 2014

Here are some tips from our partner DEMO Africa on how to participate in the continental startup event that is scheduled to take place later this year. This pre-event tour aims to rope in Africans from the east, west, south and north parts of Africa. The best 40 startups from across Africa will have a chance to pitch and launch their products/services in front of startup ecosystem players like VCs, angle investors, and tech acquisition specialists from across the region and around the globe.

As YourStory reported earlier, DEMO Africa has kickstarted its innovation tour at Kenya’s acclerator Nailab. The tour continued at Hive Colab, which is a collaborative work space and innovation hub in Uganda, where Zimbabwe’s tech hubs took part in hosting the tour. DEMO Africa will continue with the innovation tours with Zambia’s Bongo-hive hosting the next tour today on 15th of May, 2014.

DEMO Africa 2014 - YourStory Africa

During the tour, Nailab’s CEO Sam Gichuru said, “The future, as has been demonstrated by the kind of innovation we have seen launched in the recent past, is bright for the techies in Kenya; Demo Africa goes a long way to give them the much needed platform to showcase their inventions to the continent and also connect them to potential investors.”

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Past DEMO Africa Judge gives tips on successful application during the innovation tour to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Hypercube played host to the team recently which saw the tech-eco system in Zimbabwe get together for the all-important sessions.

From the innovation tour session, Ali Hussein, a former judge in the 2013 DEMO Africa, explained extensively what the panel expects of a product to get a chance to launch on the DEMO stage.

Ali affirmed that the ultimate qualification is the ability of the innovated product to impact or change the marketplace into which it is introduced or create a new market. With many ideas cropping up in every corner of the continent, he stressed the importance of the ideas meeting a real need.

A clear business plan and a management team capable of delivering the product to market is a must. This is the pillar which supports the product to a successful entry into the market.

The goal of a business plan is to clearly and effectively communicate what a company does and how it will operate. The purpose will be to present the company strategy to investors as a road map for how you intend on returning a profit.  The plan should take the following in consideration. Core purpose & value/ mission statement, product description, market analysis, industry analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operation plan, management team, and financial projection. The process of formulating business plan helps you to think through how you are going to start, grow, and even exit your startup before you even embark on the journey.

The product must be ready. Judges are more convinced by ready products as opposed to only ideas which carry a vision for implementation.

Don’t show up merely with your idea that will change the world on a power point. Prototype it. In this day and age there can’t be an excuse for not having functional prototype for your startup idea, especially for consumer facing applications. Servers are dirt cheap compared to 10 years ago. Free and open-source frameworks like phonegap helps you build easily with speed.

Prototype makes it easy for others to take you more seriously. Describing your product becomes easy as you don’t have to tell, you just show. It helps you test your functional limits as to what’s possible technically vs. theoretically.

The application must be completely pitched. Thus the importance of following the key steps as outlined in the application site which is being hosted by VC4 Africa.

 The business must be registered to ensure legality and viability of thriving in the business environment.

“Beautiful ideas are cropping up every day, with all said and done every innovator must have the ability to link creativity, innovation and effectiveness. This is what will carry the day,” stressed Ali.

The shortlisting process begins in July. The judging panel will comprise IT and Business experts drawn from various counties across the continent.

The application process for DEMO 2014 closes on June 15, 2014. Startups are being called upon to submit their applications through All the applications will be vetted by a panel of judges comprising experts in technology and business who will shortlist the best 40 startups on their ability to link creativity, innovation, effectiveness and scalability.

The event is scheduled to take place between 22nd and 26th of September at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

About the author

Everything startups, tech, entrepreneurship, and the intersection of India & Africa. You can reach him via emmanuel[at]

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