Startupbootcamp
29 Sep
  • By Brownie Points
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Our Startupbootcamp Journey – Week 1 & 2

Brownie Points has officially completed 2 out of 13 weeks of the Cape Town Startupbootcamp programme – the very first of its kind in Africa.

Only two weeks in, but already so much has happened. Let me fill you in on the details…

Rocking the Foundation

Week 1 was all about getting to know each other, breaking down our business model (and our way of thinking), and slowly rebuilding it, stronger and sturdier, from the bottom up. In his kick off presentation, Philip (Co-MD of SBC Cape Town) emphasised why Africa’s startup ecosystem is so vital: by 2100, we’ll likely have over 11 billion people living on this planet. And where will the majority of these extra 4 billion people be? In Africa. This puts us Africans in a unique position to innovate better and faster with the rising billion in mind as the new main market.

Business Model Innovation

For startups, the most important factor is business model innovation. Yes, you can spend a lot of time coming up with new or different features for your product, but that alone won’t shift the needle. If you don’t have the ideal customers aligned with a powerful value proposition, if you’re using the wrong channels and relationship builders, or are monetising the wrong way, even the most innovative product won’t get you far.

Behavioural Dynamics

Then we dug deeper, learning about our own behaviour and thought patterns that might be holding us back. This was a scary session for pretty much all of us. But if you don’t grow with your business, your business stops growing too.

From being a perfectionist, to not truly listening, to secretly lacking self-belief, we discovered the “little demons” lurking in the darkest corners of our minds.

“From a personal perspective, the #1 critical success and growth factor of a startup is the mindset and attitude of its founder(s).”

And too often founders prioritise their business over their mental and psychological well-being.

The Lean Way

Zach (Co-MD of SBC Cape Town) and Yatharth (UX guru) gave two great workshops on Lean. Essentially, the lean way is based on building, measuring and learning as much and as fast as you can. First, identify all the assumptions your product is based on, and (dis)prove them as fast as possible. Then build a prototype (you can build an app in as quick as 5 minutes) and test it with anyone who would have a vested interest in your solution. This shouldn’t be your family and friends… they’re biased towards making you feel good.

Breather

At the end of the week we had drinks at Cafe Roux, listening to The Kiffness set up for that night’s album launch, and embracing two days to regroup and refuel.

Mentor Madness

Week 2 was all about mentors. SBC is a mentor-led programme, which is one of the many reasons its model has been so successful with over 450 alumni startups. We spoke to more than 40 mentors in 3 sessions to figure out which of them would be an ideal fit for us. It was a taxing few days, but overall an amazing experience.

As the founder of a startup, one can feel isolated from the rest of the world. Entrepreneurs often think differently to others, and it can be a lonely path paving your product’s way to the masses. Meeting these mentors, some of the most successful and insightful people giving their time and passion for free, eliminated this feeling. They showed us how we as open-minded entrepreneurs should be thinking more out-of-the-box. Or, get rid of the box completely.

Highlights

While all of this was an absolutely invaluable experience for any startup, I had two more experiences that stretched my mind even further.

  1. Firstly, during one of our deep dive sessions, Philip and Zach emphasised that Brownie Points should be shooting further. We shouldn’t be waiting for a prototype to test before onboarding volunteers and we should be aiming to onboard hundreds more than initially thought.
  2. Secondly, Yatharth showed me how we need to focus more on the softer side of our product, to create a design and user journey that appeals to volunteers and connects with them on an emotional level. Volunteering is all about the passion and connection to doing good and we need to convey this message more clearly through Brownie Points.

If I were to turn back time, knowing then that I wanted to work on my own dream and grow as a business, I’d far rather have done this 3-month programme than 3 years of conventional tertiary education.

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