What does Silicon Cape do…. exactly?

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This is a question that I was often asked in my role as coordinator at the Silicon Cape Initiative. But it’s the wrong question – you should be asking what is Silicon Cape trying to achieve. Let me explain…

The Silicon Cape Initiative was formed on the premise that South Africans are generally very bad at advertising what we have and what we can do.

When you look at the various countries that have tried to stimulate innovation and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem there are 2 distinct camps. The first (read Russia and China) have tried to do it through building infrastructure. The have built large techno parks and tried to entice entrepreneurs to fill them with innovative companies. In most cases this approach fails, normally only after massive amounts of capital has been spent.
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The 3 main blog ontologies

To blog, or not to blog… thait is the question. I get asked it quite often and the answer is a general ‘yes’ – but more importantly you need to work out what type of blog to have first. This comes from the answer to the question: “Why?”

I have recently read a couple of articles about blogging (there are tons out there) but I perticularly like these 2. First is Mark Sunster’s comprehensive post with all the details on how, why and on what. Then there is also the balanced view from local entrepreneur Sheraan on the softer side of why he blogs and what you should think about before you start.

I think that on of the most important questions is “Why do you want a blog?” As far as I see it there are 3 different ontologies:
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The 5 roles you need in a startup

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There are a couple of key roles to fill in an IT startup. I’ve recently recalled a great blog on “5 People you commonly find in a startup” by John Sharp in a couple of conversations as I feel that knowing what your strengths are and what sort of team you need around you can be key to business success. The 5 types are:

 

Visionary – The person who come up with the idea. The type of person that identifies the problem that the team will solve and the high level look at how to do it.
Wizard – This is the operations side of the startup, the person who works the magic and makes the impossible actually happen.
Wiseman – They’re your investor or Advisor. They bring money and experience into the mix.
Willing Slave – One of the most crucial roles is the person who can actually build the product. Outsource this at your peril.
Deal Maker – This is the guy who can sell the idea. They get investors onboard, find customers and sells to clients.

Now that doesn’t mean that every startup has to be 5 people, only that these 5 roles need to be covered. The Wizard can be the Dealmaker, or the Willing Slave or Wiseman the Visionary. Most times there are multiple hats worn by the same person.

I was recently looking at an opportunity with a friend of mine. It is a great idea with huge scope and lots of potential. I turned it down. Right from the beginning there was an obvious overlap in our skill sets. We were both Wizards, which led to big overlap in operations and decision time – something a startup just can’t afford.

Knowing where your skills fit in your startup is an absolute must. In the same breath, finding the right mix of people so that your startup covers all the bases is just as important. Especially if you are looking for funding.

I’m very happy in the knowledge that I’m about 60% Wizard and 40% Closer. Don’t ask me to come up with a world-changing idea, but give me one and I’ll draw you a road map. Where do your skills lie?