Marc Israel is Turbine’s newest addition to the team of coaches who accompany our startups. He’s an engineer by qualification, having majored in Robotics which he claims was not a very sexy choice at the time that he was in university. He made up for that by serving in the French army for some time.
He has subsequently developed a very impressive professional track record in launching his own IT services company which he sold with the intention of catching a break from the hustle and bustle of his Parisian life, little did he know, he would never be returning there as a resident.
Marc started consulting for Microsoft and was subsequently appointed as Director of Marketing in Cloud Computing there. After 17 years of service, he left Microsoft last year. He explains that he had been experiencing an increasing amount of pressure from the corporate world and that he felt the need to start something of his own again. He moved to Mauritius and now has a company in Technology and Digital Transformation in companies around cloud computing and slowly exploring AI.
Mauritius being a tiny market, he was lucky to have had Mauritius as a target market when he was working at Microsoft. This means that he knew a lot of people in the industry before starting his own venture. Despite this, he was still bootstrapping at the beginning. He knew that he had to expand beyond Mauritius and use technology as a leverage for that.
Our incubated had quite a few salient questions that Marc candidly responded to. Here are a few of them:
- How do you convince your customers that the solution you are offering is the right one?
He asks for pain points within the company, he explains. Be it in the production line, or in IT, or in anything that they can come up with. He says it is important to know to ask the right questions that need solutions. This may not come over night, but can become apparent after a couple of meetings. Once this process is complete, he says it is important to obtain a proof of concept for the proposed solution.
He emphasizes that there are still certain myths around AI. This is the reason why he has decided to launch a series of Talks called AI Tuesdays: To educate more people in Mauritius around AI.
- When you don’t have a big brand’s credibility behind how do you go about creating trust with your target market, especially Mauritius?
First of all, it isn’t always the best thing to be associated to a big brand, beyond positive brand equity, it can have tons of opponents. If your target market is Mauritius, then you need create awareness around your project.
If your target market is not Mauritius, then forget about Mauritius and try tackle international markets. Scale from the get go. Think about what you can offer for free now that you can get money from later: Think about how you can attract as many people as fast as possible. Scale is the essence of the game.
It is also important to give some thought to your value proposition and think about what you are you offering that other people are not and how you are doing it. Think in terms of customer benefits, don’t fall in love with your features.
- With regards to scaling to Africa, what is the advice you would give?
One of the first things to keep in mind when thinking about scaling to Africa that Africa is a continent, not a country. Often what works in one country will not work in another. Target is key!
Secondly, it is also important to note that out of approximately 1 billion people in the entire continent, you will probably only be target about 30% to 40% of the population, which as a percentage seems small but would still represent approximately 300 to 400 million.
As a final piece of advice to entrepreneurs wanting launch their startups Marc suggests to go swift and to go fast. Acquiring business is one of the main priorities that you must set for yourself.