Why I am launching Uganda's first Founders Lab

Entrepreneurship is a 26-hour day job and an 8 days a week commitment. That is the best way I can explain how much it takes to build a sustainable venture.

It is easy to describe an entrepreneur as a person who undertakes risks to bring to life an aspiration. But, the description says little about the hours of work, commitment and sacrifice one has to make. It will not mention the judgment you face from those closest to you, for exploring a path less traveled.

At The Innovation Village, we carry a belief that we should fix the broken innovation economy. As a nation, we are building and supporting our entrepreneurs the wrong way.

No wonder 95% of these are dying in their first year of operation. Currently, I spend my 26/8 - 26 hours and 8 days a week - sitting down with Founders and stakeholders. Aiming at exploring new pathways to a different story.

Through this journey, I have earmarked three challenges we need to overcome.

1. The challenge of FOCUS

Do any of these sound familiar?;

First scenario: A young entrepreneur walks into my office and pitches 6 startup ideas. All at 10%, developed over a period of 6 months and no least viable product.

Second Scenario: An entrepreneur believes he has the next big idea. S/he won’t bother sharing with you because you might steal it, yet you actually know 4 other people working on the same.

Third scenario: An entrepreneur changes the business model to match a grant objective. Believing that this is a viable plan to build a startup.

Fourth Scenario: An entrepreneur that hops from competition to competition. Hoping to win the prize money, instead of building their venture.

Firth Scenario: A corporate with a business that can become their life’s work. But, they will never quit their job because of the things that might go wrong.

I have had conversations with all the above. And, if they actually focused on one thing, they would be halfway to their destination.

2. The challenge of STORYTELLING

The British say “don’t blow your own trumpet.” The Americans say, “if you are lucky enough to have a trumpet, blow it."

If you are an entrepreneur and you don’t tell your story right, how will the world discover you? Half the opportunities we miss out on come down to our inability to share our stories of impact.

Again, do any of these sound familiar?

First Scenario: My business is just…. insert any words that paint a picture of someone completely downplaying their work. A potential $1M story sold as a $1 story.

Second Scenario: The fear of pricing right because people may not afford it. The best advice I have heard about pricing is;

“think of a crazy price that you believe no one will pay you for your services and then double it — then work your way to why they will pay you for it.”

Third Scenario: Ask any entrepreneur what they do and they will struggle to explain in a brief to the point. In fact, they might leave you thinking — 'why don't you find a day job?'

3. The challenge of our ECOSYSTEM

How do you build entrepreneurs in an early ecosystem where you don’t have investors? Corporate partners are yet to realize the opportunities they might tap into. The government is trying to help but going about it the wrong way?

How do you begin to connect the dots to the many independent initiatives? All which are competing with one another and together not delivering.

How do you brand Uganda as a destination for capital? Yet search results are more likely to bring up chairs flying across parliament first.

I have traveled the world. And, I am left convinced that entrepreneurial zeal is alive in Uganda more than anywhere. Unfortunately, all the 98% Founders I meet have one thing in common. They have got battered by the challenges that come with entrepreneurship.

They become victims of reality and spend their focus on the frustration and less on their vision.

The one lesson I have learned is that it is hard for all, but you don’t have to embark on this journey alone. You might be thankful for your own challenges if you listen to what other people have to go through.

The Founders Lab will gather those seeking new pathways to their entrepreneurial journeys. It is for those interested and dedicated to creating, nurturing and leading something.

It is for those that want to challenge assumptions and expand worldview of their struggles.

Together we will explore how to solve some of our biggest challenges. And, soon, this is where you will find the people you want to meet - to take your venture to the next level.

I am excited to be hosting Connor Sattely. A Business Accelerator Agent with HiiL — Innovating Justice for our first Founders Lab. Connor is passionate about building entrepreneurs.

You don’t want to miss out on his insights and journey of building 40+ companies a year across the globe. Are you a Founder? This is for you.

This Post first appeared on CK Japheth's Medium Account.

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