I have recently entered the startup ecosystem and to state it mildly, it has been an interesting experience. I ended up in tech on purpose…jk. I didn’t know I could make the leap. Having worked in construction as a project manager, construction tech researcher and consultant, this has been a completely new playing field. While there are overlapping principles, most of the time, these spaces are worlds apart. I think it’s my entrepreneurship experience that got me in, but who’s to say, maybe I’m just that adaptable ;). Regardless, I love the experience. It has now been 5 months, and in retrospect, I have a few things to share, about what this journey has been like.
What I love about it.
1.Why are there so many acronyms?
The first thing that struck me about the ecosystem is how niche the vocabulary is. The talk is different. It’s all about GTM strategies, identifying ICPs, establishing PMF, figuring out if the UOE is great, what the user TAT is and KYC talks. The imposter syndrome didn’t miss the chance to make an appearance. Regardless, it was a refreshing change to be in a room where I knew nothing.
2. You are a part of the company.
I sat in my first company-wide strategy meeting this year. From an industry where it was strictly hierarchical, sometimes with good reason, I was slightly taken aback that our CEO wanted my opinion on the company’s plan for the year. Company-wide brainstorming was a first, and being a part of it gives a sense of belonging and more importantly, an intimate understanding of why you’re doing your daily tasks.
3. A remote first working environment.
In construction, this was likely never going to be an option. I have written on literally building remotely, though that is a very oversimplified version of what it may look like. Working fully remotely has given me the flexibility to live anywhere, and optimise my life for me. Previously, I spent 3 months every year sitting in traffic on my way to and from work. Yes, 3 months! About 4 hours a day! I always wonder where I’d be if I got those 3 months back. I could have used it to better myself, learn a skill or just do nothing! In contrast, in the last 5 months, I have traveled freely and lived in places I can… well, afford! Hopefully next year, I’ll be writing my story as a digital nomad.
4. The accelerated learning experience.
It’s been 5 months, and it has been a rollercoaster. I have helped in strategising, done product research, iteration and experimentation, hired, trained and onboarded 9 people, and reviewed 300+ pitch decks from varied industries (fintech, health tech, agtech, construction tech, e-commerce, logistics, real estate, tourism — you name it, I probably have). These decks are from different markets, mostly within Africa, but with a couple from Europe, Asia, LatAm and North America. I have had an insight into the African tech ecosystem that I can only call privilege! I will be writing more on this, in days to come.
What I’m still adapting to
1.The fast-paced environment.
It’s all about the plan — execute — document — learn — iterate — plan — execute — document …. It’s a rapid never ending cycle. In an ecosystem where fast growth and iteration mean a win or a loss, the same effects trickle down to individuals in the system. But hey, fast growth equals fast learning. At least it has for me.
2. There’s no opting out of networking.
Be it events, social spaces, or professional spaces, it’s all about networking networking networking. You must know X they’re in this space, doing Y. They are the previous founder of Z, now working in W which overlaps with our company’s goals. Everyone is relevant, especially in the space I’m in, which addresses the pain points of key stakeholders such as founders, investors and operators.
It’s safe to say I’m at the beginning of knowing I don’t know a lot! I’ll use this platform to shamelessly talk about the obvious topics, cause I just didn’t know. I’ll share my insights, learnings and mistakes. I just can’t wait!