Twice a year, the MTN Solution Space selects 10 early-stage start-ups to participate in a 12-week mentor-led programme that is designed to help entrepreneurial teams test and validate their business models. The next VIP will take place from 1 September to 30 November in Cape Town and applications for this close next week.
Valued at approximately R300 000, the VIP comprises several elements including expert mentorship, co-working space, boot camps, and skills development from the UCT Graduate School of Business, Africa’s top business school. The programme also offers access to funding and networks as well as exposure and recognition.
Tsepo Ngwenyama of the MTN Solution Space, who is part of the VIP team, says prospective participants need to have a minimum viable product (MVP) ready to conduct early-market testing and further establish product and market fit.
“We’re looking for teams that have the right balance of skills and ability to build, test and deliver. Furthermore, there must be commitment, discipline and the desire to help other teams and contribute to the community as a whole,” says Ngwenyama. Other requirements include the founder being the lead participant, who must also be able to attend on a full-time basis. This involves being present at the Solution Space for 30+ hours per week during the 12-week programme.
Participants in the programme to date include startups: Mygrow, AgriApps, Neural Sense, OneMoola, Last Mile for BoP, Utyre, Chat2Brand, FeastFox and ABCD Concepts. Mark Baker, CEO of Mygrow, says “The programme helped us to do things more wisely and less expensively, essentially being more successful in less time and at a lower cost.”
The upcoming Demo Day will see 11 start-ups celebrating the conclusion of this intensive three-month journey, a lot wiser and prepared to take on the business world. Presenting on the day will be VIP graduates Ayanda Cuba and Buntu Matole, whose projects include sports complex development in Khayelitsha. They are the co-founders of ABCD (About Brands Communities and Designs), a company aimed at providing practical and innovative solutions for people to have better access to resources, live healthy lifestyles and be active, as well as creating a platform for businesses and brands to better market themselves in communities.
“As a business, we need to strengthen not just our operation but also our business model,” explains Cube. “By joining the Venture Incubation Programme we get to interact with people who will interrogate our business and push us into growing it as a sustainable model. As the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, ‘The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness’.”
Also enrolled in the VIP is Stuart Murless, founder of Feastfox, a mobile app that facilitates bookings at Cape Town’s top restaurants, bars and cafes within a 30-minute timeframe. “Being able to tap into the knowledge and experience of expert mentors including GSB staff and partners of the MTN Solution Space, surrounded by other aspiring entrepreneurs who are experiencing similar challenges, is an invaluable learning opportunity,” he says.
To participate in the Demo Day register here.
Prospective applicants for the Venture Incubation Programme are invited to apply here. Applications for the next intake close at midnight on 4th June.