Open space for technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in Nairobi.

iHub By Jessica Colaço / October 20, 2010

The VCs versus the Entrepreneurs


On Monday the 18th of October, 2010 from 2:00-6.00 pm at iHub, 8 tech start-ups pitched to a panel of 5 venture capitalists and live audience of over 100 people in the tech space in Nairobi at Nairobi’s Innovation Hub – *iHub_  The audience comprised founders of tech start-ups, aspiring IT entrepreneurs, students, IT enthusiasts and media who took home valuable lessons  from both the VCs and the Entrepreneurs.

List of Entrepreneurs:

  1. Mikul Shah from Eat Out which is currently the most comprehensive Kenyan website offering consumers the opportunity to search for listed restaurants and outlets based on various criteria such as area location, type of cuisine, price range.
  2. Tangus Koech from mTrader which is an software platform for stock trading on mobile phones and Personal Computers. It provides up-to-the second streaming market data and statistics.
  3. Sagini Onyancha from which is Kenya’s leading recruitment portal by registered users/visits.
  4. Mark Kaigwa from Gotissuez which is a consumer-powered online feedback suggestion box for African companies.
  5. Richard Ondiek for SIM only PayPhone. The GSM SIM Card will provide payphones that will allow users to insert their SIM card to make phone calls, check balance, send money.
  6. Peter Waa from Paysure Limited has developed an application that allows internet merchants to accept local currency payments for online transactions with customers who are using local bank cards.
  7. Kamande Muiruri from Digital Networks provide electronic medical records (EMR) and financial management solutions for the healthcare sector. Their software, Business Outlook™ for Medical Clinics, helps doctors automate patient records and billing at their clinics.
  8. David Kuria from Pewahewa Music Limited which is a fully Kenyan owned business entity that operates an online music store that seeks to empower local musicians by making their music not only easily available and accessible for their fans, but also as affordable as possible.

List of Venture Capitalists:

  1. Dr Vincent Kouwenhoven | eVA Fund (eVentures Africa Fund): Dr Vincent Kouwenhoven is Founder and MD of eVA Fund. Dr Kouwenhoven has been active in venture capital in Digital Media in Europe since 2000, when he founded eVentures
  2. Rosemary Mulwa | GroFin: Rosemary Mulwa is Business Development Manager at GroFin Kenya and is responsible
    for establishing, maintaining and growing a profitable investment portfolio.
  3. Kellie Murungi | Open Capital Advisors: Kellie Murungi is a Certified Public Accountant (Kenya) who brings professional expertise in investment analysis, accounting and strategy consulting. She has worked extensively with African small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) as an independent financial advisor, operational manager and portfolio manager.
  4. Paul Ohaga | Fanisi Capital Limited: Paul Ohaga is a Partner at Fanisi Capital Limited. Ohaga has extensive corporate finance and transaction experience which has seen him advise, make and monitor equity and quasi-equity investments as well as conduct valuations and advising on disposals
  5. Pim de Wit | Africa Media Venture Fund: Pim de Wit has a long (life)time experience in off and on line media. After his departure as CEO and chairman of Sanoma Magazines in 2005 he took the initiative to establish Africa Interactive,a fast growing press and content agency with a network of over 1400 reporters in more than 40 African countries.

Why are sessions like these important within the tech community?

These type of “VCs versus Entrepreneurs” sessions are vital within the the community because they bring out valuable lessons and answer unanswered questions such as: What are VCs looking to investing in? Examples from the Monday session:

  • Open capital says that in Kenya they find very good ‘geek’ ideas but not enough business ideas. …”What we look for is the proposal that will address tomorrows issues. You must be able to foresee and articulate it…”
  • …”Better well copied than badly invented says another VC…”
  • Revenue Models used by Entrepreneurs. For instance, Eatout’s revenue model is based on restaurant subscriptions

With a turnout of over 100 people from the tech community, they are definitely eager to gain more insight into the VC and investor world. However, this is not sufficient enough as we need more local investors supporting the local innovators and in return we need the local innovators to be able to foresee and articulate their business ideas.

Thus forums such as these provide valuable lessons for both parties; the VC and Entrepreneurs. As they can better understand each others needs and work on them thoroughly before the next “pitch”. Hence the iHub is an enabler and catalyst with the tech community to enable information dissemination and social networking diffusion between VCs and the tech community.

Author : Jessica Colaço

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made and African-made solutions. As an upcoming angel investor, she courts local and international investors to invest in great tech ideas and companies at idea and concept stage. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of WMIAfrica and AkiraChix, ISOC-Kenya Chapter, Treasurer, ACM-W Nairobi Chapter Chair, TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya's business scene by Business Daily on 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her endeavour is to put Kenya and Africa on the map for technology achievements and spur innovation within the country and continent! She blogs at:

  • kempes at 04:39:41AM Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Thanks Jessica for the good post! Are there any other lessons learnt from the session?

  • artsim at 08:30:01AM Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Thanks for the recap, any chance of the video being available for download?

  • Kenyanpundit at 12:00:57PM Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Thanks Jess, some feedback I got suggests that some of the entrepreneurs could have been better prepared as far as their pitching – any plans to do some one on one coaching with entrepreneurs before doing another similar event…the art of the pitch is not natural and even the best of the entrepreneurs in the US get tons of advice/support on how to sell and refine their ideas…seems like this would be a natural thing for the ihub to facilitate.


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