An alternative look at the Zimbabwean start-up scenario and a direct response to Why most Zimbabwean start-ups fail
Yes, that’s right. You didn’t miss anything. Zimbabwean startups ARE NOT failing. They aren’t failing enough. That’s because they are not many start-ups in the first place. The better question to ask is: Why there are not a lot of Zimbabwean start-ups.
Over the past 4 years, estimate statistics indicate that a lot (about 95% or so) of the few Zimbabwean tech start-ups (over 50, possibly below 100) have failed. While the article Why most Zimbabwean start-ups fail explores the reasons behind the earlier statistic, more attention should be paid to the amount of start-up activity in Zimbabwe.
Failure, while not desirable, may have been looked at in the wrong way altogether. Maybe failure should be considered a necessary and “not-to-be-feared” …for lack of a better word….thing that will be needed to propel the Zimbabwean tech industry to the likes of Kenya and South African tech hubs.
- Has a winnowing effect, separating the mediocre from the excellent, which raises the standards of ideas, execution and entrepreneurship in general.
- is the shoulder that some of the most successful start-ups have stood on. Most successful founders are marked with battle scars from past failures.
- Breeds success. While they are no statistics at hand, it is highly probable that they are higher success rates where failure rates are also high, than when failure rates are low.
Here are some of the reasons why there aren’t many Zimbabwean start-ups.
Copy and Paste is good. Originality is overrated.
There is nothing new under the sun. And on the internet. New ideas are harder to come by because almost everything has been done. Pablo Picasso said “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. Hi5 was in existence before Facebook . Altavista before Google. The Walkman before the iPod. Social networking, internet search and free email, and portable music. Same basic concepts, different execution. The Sawmer brother, How Three Germans Are Cloning the Web, have made millions for themselves in Europe duplicating not just the website design but business models of companies like eBay, Zappos and GroupOn. So…go on, steal someone else’s ideas and make millions with it. Entrepreneurship isn’t on how fresh your idea is, but how you successfully execute an idea. Any idea.
There’s even a name for it. Fear of failure. It cripples ideas to the extent that they never see the light of day. A lot of successful tech start-ups are buried as ideas and business plans that never saw the light of day because of fear of failure.
Capital. Or the lack of it
Too often the need for start-up capital has been cited as the reason why start-ups never get off the ground. While this differs on a case-by-case basis, there are some start-ups that could easily bootstrap their way until profitability without the need of any significant capital injection. In addition, would-be funders are keener to invest in an idea that has already started than one that is still in someone’s head.
Perfecting the idea.
Most tech start-ups are started by techies, whose real intentions are to “see-their-work-up-there” and make claim to the fame that comes with it. Fortunes are an added bonus. An element of vanity exists in everyone…let the geeks be. Unfortunately it also becomes the ultimate stumbling block as the need to create the “perfect” product/service becomes the motivation. But perfect never comes. Even Facebook is rolling out changes every other two weeks. Get an idea, create a minimum viable product and get to market quickly to test it. Fail and fail quickly.
They are a lot more reasons why Zimbabwean tech businesses aren’t starting up. Some genuine…some not. We need to explore more into the reasons why we aren’t failing more because as the rest of the world has shown again and again. Failure can be an option!