Report from the field and the lab: Challenges and opportunities developing AKE ventures (Part II)

Things are wrapping up at the GESCI hub in Nairobi with the start-ups preparing for the last pitching event on the 28th and the Policy Forum on the 29th which will officially close the GESCI-AKE program.

The first pitching was used as a baseline survey of how well the Start-ups were prepared for fundraising. The judges of the pitching session where: Lydia Ndiho (Camscorp), Mitoko Dennis (14West film Production Company), Geoffrey Otieno (ADMI training institute), Duncan Onyango (AKE consulting Games tutor) , Tom Manda (AKE consulting Animation tutor), Victor Omondi (AKE’s Manger) and Jerome Morrisey (GESCI director)

Based on the emerging gaps identified on that event, the start-ups have been doing work around 3 themes:

  • Developing a viable business plan: Start-ups needed a more solid understanding of their market and emerging user needs.
  • Selling ideas in a clear way: Everybody was told to work and develop more effective presentation skills and to polish the resources they where using (e.g power points).
  • Pitching effectively: The Start ups elevator pitches were not yet up to standards and needed more work.

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While working on that we will share here some of the probes sent by the start ups this week. Thanks to all!

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Kiwo Films working at the GESCI-AKE hub

For Kevin and Ian from Kiwo Films the most challenging thing they are facing right now is “lack of equipment to get work done”  But they are confident they are “a team of reliable and dedicated individuals with a common interest“, which is a good and promising direction for the future.

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 Screenshots of some of IocincCode current prototypes, and an image of the team debugging together in front of the screen.

Mista from IonicCode reports that they have been conducting a bit of  research for their projects  “with the help of  our tutor Duncan who bought some cool kids text books where we got inspiration for various concepts. At the moment we are working on tap math game, a painting game, a pattern game and picture maker all in both languages Kiswahili and English. Right now we have to take them for testing to primary schools. As soon as the schools reopen we will be able to get enough feedback from teachers and from the school kids on how to improve them further”. The games are still in development phase and the team is constantly improving on them.

The IonicCode team feels that their biggest challenges are now. 1) getting good illustrations artists to add the African feel to their educational games. 2) recording the sounds needed for the games, as finding the right people to do that had been time consuming. 3) Of course the issue of bugs in some of the games. Coding is always tricky, but they are confident: “we were able to achieve the logic of the game, they  can be played in our devices!”

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VerbHouse’s value proposition, team and details from their current portfolio

 

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Snapshots of Makossiri’s web presence

 

 

 

 

 

Value Proposition Statements for AKE startups

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Dear AKE participants, lets collect your start up value propositions:

What ?
Value proposition statements(*) are short texts (1-2 paragraphs) that are used in branding and marketing to hone one’s brand identity.

Your start up name:

Members of the start-up:

Proposition:
For (target customer – who are you targeting?)
who (statement of need or opportunity of your target customer)
the (product or company name)
is a (product or company category)
that (statement of key benefit / compelling reason to buy).
Unlike (primary “competitive” alternative),
Our product (statement of primary differentiation – what makes you special).

… And WHY you are doing what you are doing, your passion, from your personal perspective!

Please answer these simple questions as a startup (do not send answers separately but coordinate and send one per start-up) and send your response to Victor, Andrea & Minna by Friday 10 February. You may want to do this ASAP to help you prepare for the pitching event.

Remember:
When creating a brand, you are always “looking outward”, that is, thinking about what you can do for your customer, how your clients would see you.

You final text (that you can post on your own marketing platforms) does not need to be this formulaic – but start with answering those questions above and send your answer to us. After that, you can hone the text to your liking.

For example, this is the Value Proposition for Apple MacBookLight:

MacBookLight. Years ahead. Our goal with MacBook was to do the impossible: engineer a full‑size experience into the lightest and most compact Mac notebook ever. That meant reimagining every element to make it not only lighter and thinner but also better. The result is more than just a new notebook. It’s the future of the notebook. And now, with sixth‑generation Intel processors, improved graphics performance, faster flash storage, and up to 10 hours of battery life,* MacBook is even more capable.

More information:

http://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/cse403/06sp/lectures/ProductPitches.pdf

https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/10-value-propositions-you-wish-you-had

https://sumome.com/stories/value-proposition-examples

* Geoff Moore popularized this concept in his book Crossing the Chasm.

Participant Interview – Artari kreations

Artari kreations is one of the several media ventures under development by AKE participants right now. They describe themselves as a techno-artistic company that specializes in music production, sound design, animation, web design and mobile development who are harnessing all the learning and skills they have been developing during AKE program. The team behind Artari hope they can have a full fledged startup by December as they have already started doing projects and have received many requests for their services. We spoke with Maurice Makau and Wilson Andika, 2 of the members of the team, who shared with us some thoughts on Artari and their story so far.

Q: Your venture seems to be precisely at the essence of the GESCI-AKE programme, could we ask you to tell us about your experiences? How the Artari Creations came to be?

A: We are glad about the compliments you raised over the existence of our small venture that is yet to grow. The set up for Artari Kreations was drafted on February, early this year. We wanted our venture to address challenges in four artistic areas: music design & production, animation & motion graphics, web design & application development and finally graphic design & illustration. After realizing that we had among ourselves what we needed, the real formation came to be. The team came together during the first stages of the AKE up-skilling face when we started doing things to prove that it could work and that we could deliver the right things to the first clients we encountered. It’s a good experience having this venture, although there exists a few challenges here and there. For a start we are good to go.

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Members of Artari Kreations with other fellow participants of AKE2016 during a showcase event completing the AKE skilling phase at the GESCI Office in Nairobi (Image by GESCI)

Q: What are the most pressing issues now? Where are you putting effort these days?

A: Artari Kreation is just in its genesis phase, we should grow and develop. Like any other business, marketing and sourcing for clients is an inescapable hurdle. Fortunately the challenge gradient has been less steep for us because of the strong network and friends of the team members. Also, we believe we have an interesting mix of multidisciplinary thinking in our team. This allow us to come up with productive and commercially feasible ideas that can easily make sense to our clients and that we can sell.

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An interactive visualization of the skills of Artari team made for their website. (Image by Artari Kreations)

 Q: How are you getting the word about Artari out there?

We already have our website launched (artarikreations.co.ke) and are now busy working in a couple of job requests. We have developed a strong social social media presence on networks like Facebook , we created a youtube channel, and constantly work to fine tune things like google search. We are working under the concept of ”artari creative brothers”.

We are still exploring more mechanisms of instilling more marketing features into our branding system at the same time that we try to utilize all the already available resources and information.

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Artari team members at work, creating!

Q: What is the most pressing issue for the future of Artari?

Improvement and quality! It is our dream and desire both for the whole AKE program (and your research), and also our clients and our business as well.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.52.38Artari creations is a joint creative effort of: Francis Ndambuki, Maurice Makau, Wilson Andika, Pharis Mukui and Kennedy Njeri Wangombe

They are joined by Chela Nancy and Edna Taabu as special guests.

 

It seems AKE program is managing to provide an inspiring place where like-minded and complimentary skills meet to learn, try out things and help each other.

Participant Interview – Willis Abuto

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Willis Abuto

In this series of blog posts, we will highlight experiences, insights and talents by the GESCI-AKE participants. Our first interviewee Willis Abuto has been working for several years with an impressive list of clients: VICE Media, Comic Relief, BBC, Ndani TV, Afrofilms International Ltd and TeCaPicha. We asked him about his secret sauce for success.

How to get started?

Q: How is it that you started your own “start-up” in sound design and engineering? Did you work on that already before GESCI?

WA:  I begun working as a freelance 2010 but never was too serious with sound recording until I met my mentor in 2011, when studying TV & Radio production. Now I am studying more sound recording and sound design at GESCI.

My big break came when my mentor connected me with my first international assignment. Networks and relationships are key.

How to foster client relationships?

Q: How did you build such an impressive clientele?

WA: Once you get one big break, and do your job well, you get referrals. Your reputation does travel. International clients tend to lead to other international clients.

That said, I belong to many social media groups in my field and connect with professionals all around the world that way. All my social media accounts are for professional purpose. I also keep in contact with my former clients. I get in touch to say hello and to find out about their future projects. They know that I’m interested in them, and know that I’m up-to-date with their work.

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Filming with BBC in Kenya

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Filming with BBC in Tororo, Uganda

How to become a great creative professional?

Q: How would you advise someone stating his or her career as a professional in the field of creative industries? Any specific tips?

WA: DO YOUR BACKGROUND RESEARCH — and continue to learn more, every day! This is really, really important.

First, you need to know what your field looks like right now. You need to research new technologies coming to the market so that you can convince your clients what to do and how to do it — and that you can do it. You need to know what you need to learn to keep up with industry standards.

Second, you need to research your client. You need to know the company you will be working for: How they operate, what they have done in the past, with whom have they worked, and even what their rates for creative professionals are. I use professional social media groups to connect and find out from other creatives about details like that so that I can match the standards of my clients and know to ask for the correct rates for my services.

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Filming Iten Women group perform their traditional songs in Kenya with VICE Media

Q: How about the business-side of things? How to become a business-savvy creative?

WA: As I said, doing research is a big part of it. A significant part of my work is about keeping up-to-date. As is constant networking. I’m looking forward to all the new contacts and insights I can get via GESCI.

But I’d also like to add that us creatives also need to be smart about collaborations. We do teamwork, and it’s great and fun, but at the end we’ll all go our separate ways and need to make a living. So for example, when I get an assignment by someone I don’t know that well, say, an independent who is just starting or established, I will make sure I ask for a part of my fee upfront. This way I am on the safe side of the business.

What is your favourite work project  – so far?

WA: That’s a tough question… I’d have to say the one for VICE Media that we just completed, about Kenyan long distance runners. With the Rio Olympics, it is about to get worldwide exposure as it’s to live at the conclusion of the Rio Olympics 2016.  The VICE crew is without doubts professionals.

Follow Willis Abuto on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn. And read more about Willis in this article – The SOUNDMAN!

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Last day of shoot with VICE in Kenya.