Why Hotels.ng Founder Thinks African Startup Incubators Are Failing

Image Credit: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/03/20/surge-in-tech-hubs-give-african-startups-a-place-to-grow/

Why Hotels.ng Founder Thinks African Startup Incubators Are Failing

Mark Essien, the founder of Nigeria’s hotel booking portal, Hotels.ng thinks that African startup incubators are not working. As featured by Medium, Mark says that African incubators are attracting the wrong kind of crowd. The type of crowd made up of ‘Founders’ looking to be taught how to build a startup. The kind of crowd that shows up every day at the incubation center just to be incubated. As opposed to the kind of crowd that are self-driven and have a problem-solving mentality.

Mark further says that for incubators to bring forth successful startups, they must start incubating the type of people capable of building up a startup in the first place. By bringing together smart people, who know how to play teamwork in addressing the challenges affecting them. He further criticizes the recruitment process used by the incubators, where people come and tell their life journey. Saying this does not help in selecting the right candidates to be incuabeted. The incubators also need to start teaching important skills needed in running a succeful startup. Such as taxes, bookkeeping, HR and marketing practices. This would go a long way towards enabling them start and run a startup successfully.

To me, incubators that can never work are the ones that select ‘teachable’ people, then bring in a bunch of experts to show them how to do things. The incubator then forces the startups to pivot to particular things (that the founder may not be knowledgeable about). The incubator them makes the found discuss every key decision with the incubator owners. I cannot imagine a scenario where this works.

“A working ‘incubator is one where they focus on finding the very best founders, giving them leeway to figure things out, look bi-weekly at growth metrics, has equal-partner discussions with the founders, and has people in place to show the founder specific technical things (e.g. finance, HR, marketing, etc). So more like an accelerator than an incubator.

I’ve seen the scene first-hand for a while now. I’ve seen what is working and what is not. You can’t teach someone to become a founder, stop trying. When he/she is ready, he/she will be ready. Focus on finding the people that are ready now, and just need capital and some key knowledge to move thing to the next level.

This article was done by Mark Essien, Founder of Hotels.ng and was first featured at Medium.

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