This past Saturday, I was speaking at the 140 Conference in Nairobi on Twitter for social causes in Nailab. Among the speakers and active participants were Paula Kahumbu of Wildlife Direct, Juliana Rotich of Ushahidi, Moses Kemibaro of Dotsavvy, Josiah Wanyama of Pamoja Media, Aly-Khan Satchu of Rich.co.ke, Mikul Shah of Eat Out, Ngeny, and the organizer, Soud. It was an impressive session where thoughts and experiences were shared and great conversations exchanged. While the sessions were great, this post is about what happened afterward.
I met up with Mikul at the back of the room to have a private chat about a project we will be partnering on in the coming months. Soud and the guy behind Ufahari.com joined us and the conversation quickly shifted to the common factor uniting us all, entrepreneurship. We are pursuing entrepreneurial ventures each with different levels of successes and that became the defining factor in the conversation. While many young Kenyans have entrepreneurial ideas, Soud aptly pointed out that those enjoying success are those adept at execution.
NaiLab and iHub are what incubators for emerging Kenyan Techpreneurs. The core of their framework is to provide emerging entrepreneurs with physical platforms like office space, bandwidth, conference rooms etc. to use while they develop their business ideas. However, according to Mikul, the ability to create impressive tools and tech products is only but a small part of the much bigger picture. Our friend from Ufahari.com told us the concept behind Ufahari.com. We had a difficulty understanding some things which we considered limitations of the Ufahari concept. Mikul had a lot of questions and in his straightforward manner went ahead to ask them. These questions and the answers we got revealed what Mikul meant by execution being the key in any entrepreneurial success.
I recently met with Mercel Werner of Flametree Systems and the question he asked me with regard to my startup was, tell me the big picture? That was the time it hit me that my big picture wasn’t that big. I began to realize that if there was someone else running my business, the results would be very different. Again, it all boils down to execution.
From Nailab, Mikul and I walked across the building to the iHub which is on the other side. There we met with Eric Hersman (@whiteafrican) and in a way the conversation about execution ensued once again as Mikul showcased his Eat Out website. Eric said that there is no shortage of ideas but the young people with these ideas cannot scale them because they fail to foresee the big picture and set actionable strategies towards getting there. While sitting there and listening to these great business and technical minds speak, I began taking apart my own business approach and wondered whether it would look any different if any of them were running it. YES is the answer.
The truth is, anybody can have an idea but execution is what sets apart the wheat from the chaff. I am not sure whether iHub will coach its participants in strategy and execution but it is obvious that nurturing ideas without teaching business strategy etiquette will see mediocre businesses emerge from otherwise great ideas.
Just from listening to the above conversations, I made a conscious decision to change my business strategy and I am already reaping its fruits.