What we’ve seen, what we’ve heard, what we love about #VIPWS18
The first Venture Incubation Programme ran in the summer session of 2016. Since then, we’ve seen 40 teams graduate from two cohorts a year. With each cohort, we see teams grow, ideas develop and networks expand. The teams work together and collaborate with each others as they build, measure and learn on the programme. We watch with gratitude as the individual founders take their first tentative steps in the programme; and with humility as they graduate with confidence, determination and resolve.
This year has been no different. As we do with every cohort, we reflect on what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard and what we love about the programme. We asked the Solution Space team what they consider to be the highlights of #VIPWS18 at the V&A Waterfront hub.
Gcobisa Mqanda, Solution Space Co-ordinator
My highlight was definitely seeing how the teams took ownership of the social aspect of the programme. They took charge and arranged our social gatherings with creativity and innovation. I loved, especially, how Go Motto encouraged us to use their navigation app to get to Beerhouse for the beer tasting experience arranged by Ask-Jean. It brought a different dimension to the socials, and also brought their products alive for us. We could actually see them in action and test them in live situations.
Sarah-Anne Alman, Solution Space Manager
A highlight for me was seeing how the teams were constantly iterating. They showed immense flexibility test and trial their ideas; and not begin wedded to their first version. They were always iterating to find better solutions. Sometimes the teams were overwhelmed at the decisions they needed to make, but being coachable helped: they understood that the feedback they received was in their best interests. And that’s so important in problem-solving. This cohort has been really strong in that respect.
We’ve also seen great generosity from facilitators working on the programme. They’ve gone beyond what they were paid or contracted to do, connecting the startups to their own networks. The startups were also great at sharing their expertise with others, even if that knowledge wasn’t linked to their core business, such as advising on website design, or offering to solve financial conundrums.
My other highlight was seeing how much the businesses achieved in such a short space of time. Our incubation programme accelerates the business model development process for founders. And, as the teams get better, we get better. We’re learning about the pace and the right amount of support to find the balance between nurturing and accelerating.
And finally, we’ve seen a more engaged ecosystem that has helped the startups make important connections. We’re even starting to see other startups coming to check on the competition. This is a clear indication of the calibre of our programme, as other founders sit up and take notice.
Tsepo Ngwenyama, Marketing & Communication Associate
My highlight has been hearing the different reasons why the teams have applied to the programme. It gives us a chance to hear from them what were the drivers behind the decision to join. A common theme has emerged for us, which is that startup teams are seeing the Solution Space’s credibility and the work we’ve done with teams in the past. The teams in this cohort all talked about the value and substantial guidance they’d receive from the learning, which would equip them to launch. This is far more valuable than any cash injection.
Shiela Yabo, Solution Space Programme Coordinator
Yes, this has been my highlight, too. The teams recognise the Solution Space as the doers; we don’t just talk. The feedback we’ve received is that the teams appreciate the structure of the programme. The training, the clinics we run, the office hours, and other elements, make the teams accountable to each other — and this pushes them to do better.
We’ve also been able to lock down a few partnerships to support startups in piloting their product. In one case that happened within a month of the programme starting. That’s been a big breakthrough for us. We’ve also seen corporate partnerships growing too, which reflects our growing reputation. This has helped us to be proactive in facilitating introductions with potential customers for the startups.
Our corporate partners have also been much more involved and engaged at an individual level. Several executives have spent time with us, understanding what we do, offering feedback to startups. This is testament to how our partnership is about more than just money. They’re seeing the value of their investment playing out in the work we do with the startups every day.
Congratulations to the teams who graduated from #VIPWS18. We wish you all luck in the future and look forward to seeing your businesses grow from strength to strength.