Following their participation in Test Drive 3, LeFinTech is now under Turbine’s Incubation Program. LeFinTech’s mission is to design and develop experiences that make entrepreneurs’ lives simpler. We had a chat with the founders to know more about themselves and their Test Drive journey.

Meet the Founders

Neha Gunnoo

Driven by passion for digital projects, technologies and entrepreneurship, Neha is a consultant in Brand Content Strategy and Digital Marketing. Skilled in project management as well, she has worked in multinational companies such as AfrAsia, Accenture, and Barclays Mauritius. Neha brings her expertise, specializations and years of experiences in LeFinTech.

Nayar Joolfoo

Nayar is an experienced Linux and Cloud Engineer. Being very passionate about technology, he likes to experiment with various technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. Being the lead developer at LeFinTech, he creates the most innovative software solutions to the common hassles which many businesses have.

What is LeFinTech about?

LeFinTech has been created to help entrepreneurs and small business owners focus more on their core business while leaving finance and admins to robots and chatbots.

We have the fastest and easiest registration process which requires no dedicated application to be installed on your mobile phone or laptop. It starts with a simple ”hello” on our Facebook page and our chatbot will execute your work while you can focus on building up your business idea.

Services that we offer:

LePocketCFO: The first virtual CFO in Mauritius dedicated to SMEs

We have a full blown chatbot application that allows sales orders, quotes, invoices to be sent and filed from a simple chatbot interface.

LePocketCFO does all your bookkeeping activities; from quotations to payment receipts just like any other CFO, anytime and anywhere. It is available on a 24/7 basis, user-friendly and quick! All your processing is done on our secure encrypted servers. Even your most complex tasks can be simplified into 3 simple steps with LePocketCFO. It’s a CFO in your pocket!

Image Source: https://lefintech.ltd/landing/

 

LePocketShop: An E-Commerce Platform via Facebook Messenger

We want to help SMEs to get online faster, in a cost-effective and efficient way, and at the same time participate in the effort of flattening the infection curve.

So, we have come up with a simple solution that enables an e-commerce platform via Facebook Messenger. Each SME can have a chatbot set up on their Facebook Page where customers are to place orders quickly and safely and proceed to payment through a digital gateway. This minimises touchpoints to order food and essential items, while allowing more SMEs to leverage e-commerce, for little to no upfront investment.

It allows small businesses who do not have the required capital for a full-fledged e-commerce solution, to get a ready-made solution almost instantly.

What was your thought process when you saw the AD of Test Drive and how was your experience of participating?

We have been following the Turbine Test Drive since the first edition and realizing how it encourages fresh and pioneering ideas. We were both pleasantly surprised when our business idea was accepted by the Turbine Team.

We had the golden opportunity to network, build relationships with the other Test Drive participants and shared our business ideas with each other.

We cannot stress enough on how the workshops were an eye-opener for us to ponder in every possible direction as new business owners. We even had the chance to learn about the mistakes, failures and successes of the entrepreneurial experts.

But most importantly we had fun. It was late night work, but we made sure pizza was there too!

Do you guys have any advice for someone with a business idea?

We were given this idea by our mentors which we’d like to pass on to our readers now: ”Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything!”

Therefore, we should not just keep our ideas to ourselves but rather go out, speak to people about it, test the market whether it is actually solving a problem or not.

 

LeFinTech is currently offering free trials on both of their services – they can be reached by email on contact@lefintech.ltd

 

The 4th edition of Turbine’s Pre Incubation Program  began this week. This year due to the impacts of COVID-19, the application of Test Drive 4 was extended to encourage more people to come out with innovative solutions to combat this crisis. Out of 125 projects, only 8 have been selected!

How does it work? 

We kicked off the Test Drive Program with a Meet & Greet session on 6 May 2020 with all the participants, Turbine’s team and business coaches online. During this period, the participants will receive 6 online workshops delivered by Turbine’s experts namely Gemstone Training, Jane Delorie, Chen Hindi, Marc Israel and Aarti Gundooa from PwC. This time, exceptionally, all the workshops will be conducted through webinars with the continuous support from our business coaches as well.

The aim of the workshops is to support participants develop their ideas into a business plan and a Pitch within 6 weeks.

These workshops consist of the following topics:

  • Lean Canvas
  • Value Proposition
  • Milestone Plan
  • Market Research
  • Online Marketing
  • Revenue Model
  • Pitch Deck

Investor Pitch & Prizes

The most important part of the Test Drive is the investor pitch where all the participants have the chance to pitch their projects to a panel of investors, professionals and business angels. Usually, the best project is rewarded with a cash prize followed by an opportunity to be incubated at Turbine.

This year 3 different prizes will be offered by our 3 sponsors MCB, PwC and Spoon Consulting.

  • Rs75,000 will be offered by MCB to The most impactful business idea
  • Rs75,000 will be offered by PwC to The most promising business idea
  • Rs75,000 will be offered by Spoon Consulting to The most innovative business idea

Pre Incubation & Incubation 

In the last 3 years, Turbine has pre incubated more than 90 aspiring entrepreneurs to develop their idea. 20 starts ups have been incubated with us and we currently have 8 start-ups under the incubation Programme.

Turbine provides its incubates with a free workspace in its co working area and weekly coaching sessions by its business coaches Marc Israel, Alexandrine Maigrot, Michel Juanico and Aysha Julie. The incubates also acquire visibility and recognition for their work in the entrepreneurial ecosystem through Turbine’s platforms.

 

Visit our blog to read more on our previous Test Drive Programs and the success stories of our incubates!

After participating in the last edition of Test Drive, KonekTwa has been incubated at Turbine this year. KonekTwa is the first influencer marketing platform in Mauritius. Its founder Adarsh Gujadhur, a graduate in mechanical engineering and a dance choreographer shares his Test Drive journey with us.

What is KonekTwa?

KonekTwa is a platform for local brands/advertisers to engage with local content creators and influencers for their social media ad campaigns, all while promoting a community of influencers to help each other prosper. We promote and sensitize brands to the world of influencer marketing as well as sharing the knowledge of marketing on social media platforms.

What was your thought process when you saw the AD for the Test Drive?

I had known about Test Drive since its second edition back in 2018, but I always second guessed myself to apply it. An entrepreneur’s life is a tough one, so they say and I was not sure I was up to the task. Seeing its ads on social media platforms encouraged me to apply because it somehow maintained the barrier that allowed me to cope with rejection- in the worst case scenario. I should also mention that I did not apply the first or second time I saw the ad, I kept the deadline in the back of my mind and worked on a presentable way of explaining my idea and that’s when I applied.

What was your experience of participating in Test Drive?

Test Drive was an absolute delight! It structured my business in such a way that today, I feel more confident with the company I’ve launched. Getting to interact with reputed experts from each area of a start up helped me properly gauge and make informed decisions about my business moving forward. The weekly meetings with the mentor created a safe space for me to discuss my fears, obstacles and successes. The workshops provided me with knowledge that I lacked and opened my eyes to fresher perspectives.

Lastly, the sense of community created with the contestants of Test Drive is something so special. We felt like we were on the same boat, we all have a vision of our future and we were all striving to get there- a common goal. The sense of community that Turbine creates is special, not just with the participants, but with the staff always at your service, the former start uppers helping as much as they can and the beautiful infrastructure allowing the ease of communication and work.

 Do you have any advice for someone with a business idea?

It is okay not to have all the answers. Test Drive and Turbine fully understands the struggles of an entrepreneur and helps you as much as they can in every aspect of a start up.

 

Starting one’s own business is a daunting undertaking.
While some people are buzzing with business ideas, others have all the qualities of an excellent entrepreneur but have not yet found the right idea to execute.

So how does one go about finding the right idea? And what is the right idea for any specific person to execute?

This article will explore just that – how to find the right idea that you are best suited to execute.

How do I know what I will be able to execute best?

The right business idea for anyone is that in which they have a personal interest in and that they, with all their unique experiences are best suited to execute. The best way to explore this, just like the best way to solve any problem, is by asking the right questions.

  1. What is it that you do that brings you the most satisfaction?

 

Like with any career counselor, coach or mentor, the advice here is to find something you enjoy doing. An innate interest in what you are doing implies that you will have drive, ambition and motivation in the work that you will be doing. This is crucial when the entrepreneurial journey gets hard and when you have those rough days at work, at least you will know it would have been your choice to embark on this journey.

The key here is to find a way to monetize what you love doing.

 

  1. What in your daily work/ life frustrates you and others around you the most?

If you are met with a problem everyday that you would like solved, chances are that other people would like it solved too! If the problem is big enough, people may even be willing to pay for it.

Sometimes, the consumers of your solution need not be your customers. At times, they can end up becoming part of your offer itself. For example, nobody pays to have a Facebook account, nobody is paying to watch a YouTube video and we certainly don’t pay to scroll through Instagram.

Technology today has disrupted the way in which we do business. Your end consumer need not be your customer.

  1. Think about the biggest challenges the world is going to be facing in the next 15 years.

If this statement makes you think of Elon Musk, then Bingo! The truth is, short lived problems have short lived solutions. Brainstorming humanity’s next big challenges and their solutions does not only the opportunity to find a lucrative business idea but also offers one the opportunity to be of service to the global community.

Granted, not everyone can decide to fly rockets to the moon or launch hyper loops capsules to solve the world’s commuting problem. But humanity does not only suffer big problems.

  1. Perform SWOT Analyses for companies.

A SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Have a look at the diagram below:

The key result of an exercise like this is that it offers you an insight on what the opportunities a company must develop based on its strengths, and also what threats that they need to minimize. This in turn provides you with an opportunity to provide those solutions to those companies.

Conclusion:

There are many ways in which one can come up with a business idea, there also exists a non-exhaustible number of good business ideas to exploit. However, a business idea without execution remains a wish, a dream or any intangible phenomenon you want to call it. To understand if a business idea brings value to its consumers, one must be sure to test it:  And this need not be an resource intensive activity.

Find out more about how to test your business idea in the following article:

https://turbine.mu/how-to-start-a-start-up/

Following Test Drive which was organized in October 2019, Recyclean is one of the 6 projects that has been incubated in the beginning of this year at Turbine. Sharon Lennon shares with us her journey and explains how she came up with Recyclean.

What were you doing before starting your entrepreneurial journey?

I am 32 years old and my entrepreneurial journey started 12 years ago when I had to take over the direction of a family business. After 10 years of ups and downs, I took the decision of shutting down the company mainly due to financial issues. I had a dream of opening a restaurant one day and I was able to achieve it in 2018 along with my mother. However we had to put an end to it for some medical reasons.

But being an entrepreneur at heart, I had to find a new business idea and I came up with Recyclean.

What is Recyclean?

In April 2019, while surfing on the internet I came across an environmental solution that exists in Namibia. With the growing concerns for environmental issues, it was clear to me that there was a business idea to develop for Mauritius as well. I created Recyclean to provide to households a weekly doorstep collect of their recyclables to sort and deliver to recycling factories in exchange of a monthly fee.

It will not be wrong to say that Mauritius has an uneducated population when it comes to recycling and going to segregation points which are generally located in supermarkets’ parking lots takes a lot of time.

Recyclean was born to address 2 issues that are convenience and gain of time. We therefore decided to be the link between those who want to recycle but either don’t know how to do it or do not have the time to recycle.

What was your experience of getting started? How did Test Drive help you with this?

Having learnt from previous failures, I did not want to make the same mistakes. I had to find a solution that would provide Recyclean with the right structure, professional expertise and coaching to help make the wisest decision. Following interview with one of Turbine’s coaches it was rapidly clear to me that Test Drive was exactly what I was looking for.

Three weeks of workshops and coaching have proved the Test Drive to be even more than what I expected. It is more than just a shared workspace, more than just coaches guiding your decisions, it’s a family. A family with every member ready to help at any time. Be ready to be challenged along the way and to have your business challenged from workshop to workshop.

What advice would you give to someone with a business idea?

The best advice I could give you if you have a business idea and you really want to do things correctly right from the start, is to enroll in the next Test Drive Program. You definitely won’t regret and the worse that can happen is that you’ll be making friends while sharing pizzas.

 

 

 

 

It is daunting to be your own boss. It is so easy to fall prey to the day to day activities of a business and to let that become your routine. As a founder, it is important to get out of that routine every now and then to have a bird’s eye view on a situation that one may find themselves in. Here are 5 points to check yourself on.

1.     Falling in love with their idea

It is difficult to tread the fine line between believing in your idea and being in love with your idea. Believing in your idea equips you with the resilience you need as an entrepreneur. You will often be approached by individuals who will question the feasibility, or the impact of your business idea and it is important for you to have studied the matter enough to be able to defend why you believe in it.

But falling in love implies something different.Granted, love is blinding: But in business, this can cost you a lot. Falling in love with your business means that for some reason you have some deep emotional attachment and an emotional stake in your company’s success or failure. The result of this can lead to the founder(s) being, excuse the pun, blinded by all the bright aspects of the business and often ignoring the red flags. It can also mean that you end up relying far too much on your own efforts to make the business work as opposed to finding the sustainable ways for you to grow.

2.     Misunderstanding the Launch

Presenting your work to people can be a hard thing to do. It’s a brave thing to put one’s work out to the public and to have people use it, critique it and even at times compliment it. As a result, I often find entrepreneurs meticulously fine tuning their products before going to market. Now my advice here is by no means: “Forget attention to detail.”! It is however important to stay lean in the early phases of your venture and the reason for this is twofold:

  • Staying lean as a business means you are deploying the exact right resources to a precise aim. It saves you time, money and a lot of other resources.
  • Launching your business is very similar to testing a scientific hypothesis. Your aim is to assess the customer’s needs and the best way to do so is to keep your product lean. The more features (variables) you add to your product, the more difficult it becomes to truly assess the feedback. Staying lean allows you to limit your variables and to get accurate customer feedback.

The launch of your product need not compete Apple’s new iPhone releases. There are several ways in which you can launch:

  • Launching through a party where you invite your friends and family and ask them for their honest, anonymous feedback.
  • Launching to your online community: Create a social media page and assess what feedback you get. Are you getting genuine interest? Or do you need to add more value to your product?
  • Launch at Universities: this can be an excellent way to gauge customer feedback if you are building a product/ service that caters to a younger age bracket.

Another unfortunate, yet common, misconception is that if you release your product or service too soon, then other people may start copying it. However, the truth of the matter is that launching at an early stage identifies you as the first mover, enables you to gauge your customer feedback first hand and starts generating trust amongst your customers.

3.     Not paying enough attention to regulatory frameworks.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t always the most glamorous job. It is a thrill to be accountable for your own business but if Spider man’s grand father taught us anything: with great power comes great responsibly. Running a business means being accountable and creditable to stakeholders. These can be your clients, your partners, investors and even your employees. It means paying your taxes and obtaining the right licenses and permits. Failure to do may result in fines and/ or delayed delivery of services both of which are not a very appealing phenomenon for stakeholders to want to work with you.

There is a reason why they say being employed is a secure road to take: Being an entrepreneur means payroll for employees, accounting and taxes. It can be easy to take it for granted when you work for a big company, but it becomes a challenge when you don’t have the resources dedicated to do just that in your company. These are also very sensitive aspects of businesses, as small mistakes can end up costing you a lot.

4.     Not innovating in time

Innovation can often be tied to the word startup but, a startup that is innovative is in fact always diversifying what it has to offer to its consumers and by so doing is creating barriers to entry.

Not innovating in time can have disastrous consequences for a company of any size. It allows the competition to catch up with what you offer your customers, decreasing your share of the market. A good example is the strategic failure that caused Kodak’s decade long decline in growth as digital photography took over bigger and bigger portions of their customer base. In this situation, Kodak didn’t exactly fail because they failed to innovate; they released the first digital camera in 1975 but failed to market it correctly by fear of damaging their already lucrative film business. This allowed time to their competitors to develop their digital solutions which ended up significantly damaging Kodak’s revenue over the decade that was to come.

5.    Human Resources Management and Leadership

A business depends heavily on the human resources it is built with. There comes a time in every founder’s journey when they must decide between hiring the more competent person versus hiring the person that is just starting out but is asking for less. One might initially think that this could be good for the business cash flow, after all cash is king! But it is also important to note that if you treat your employees correctly, show them that their development is also important to you then they actually become assets that grow and generate more and more revenue for you as you start to expand your business.

Turbine’s third Test Drive was run in October 2019 and IKES won the first prize out of 15 participants and out of 115 applicants to the Test Drive Program. Incidentally, the company is also one of the 6 projects that has been selected for the Incubation Program at Turbine. Founder Ben Javed opens up to us about his motivation to start Ikes and his experience with Turbine.

 

About Ben

Ben Javed is an IT engineer specialized in networking/ telecommunications/ videoconferencing and he started his career in 1999 at Blanche Birger and then joined Currimjee Informatics until 2007. He then proceeded to join La Sentinelle team in 2008 to handle the “Showbizz” business unit, all the while being the Commercial Director of Radio One . He left La Sentinelle in 2010 to start his own entrepreneurial journey with Event Creators, an event management company. Along with two business partners, he scaled up the company from three working staff members to 10 full time employees with an annual turnover of Rs 15M. Ben has been involved with Event Creators for the last 10 years as Sales/ Concept Director and has now decided that it is time for a change. He tried to make a move by turning a hobby into his latest  business venture, IKES.

 

WHAT IS IKES?

IKES is a business venture  with ecology as a priority. The business aims to transform used wooden pallets  into trendy furniture and to make it available at an affordable price. The up scaled furniture is then delivered right at the doorstep of each customer.

The plan is to offer three services and products to different segments of the Mauritian market:

  1. Selling/ Renting  of ready made furniture as per current trends – to hospitality & event industry.
  2. Ready to assemble pieces of furniture for DIY enthusiasts to indulge in their hobby at home.
  3. Workshops and a Makerspace for those DIY enthusiasts who would like to take their assembling skills to the next level through a space that provides all the tools and equipment for them to make more complex structures possible.

Ben answers a few questions for us:

What was your thought process when you saw the ad for the Test Drive?

When I saw the ad for Test Drive, I was in a research and development ( R&D) process to ascertain where and how to start the business venture. I was analyzing the market and gathering all information about the business requirements. Seeing the Test Drive program made me think it would be the perfect opportunity to go through that process in a structured manner. It was also an opportunity to get professional feedback on the strategic decisions I was looking to make.

How was your experience of participating in Test Drive?

I come from a scientific background and have never had any business learning experience except some themed workshops on specific subjects. Participating in Test Drive has been the best entrepreneurship training so far with a pragmatic approach to key business implications: Marketing/ Financials/ Strategic Planning/ Forecasting and creating an overall vision and while testing it at the same time! The business experts who delivered the Test Drive workshops were able to deliver valuable and actionable knowledge to the participants  while the business coaches provided helpful information of what was expected from the participants. I found myself thinking about a wider view/ long term vision of the business this way. In an addition to this, the network and exchanges with that I had with other participants to the Test Drive Program helped me make more educated and well thought out assumptions about the various different aspects of the new business idea.

It was so interesting to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds working on such different projects and still being able to find real synergies with them.

What advice would you give to someone with a business idea?

Test Drive it before taking any step!

 

In attempt to keep its incubated entrepreneurs inspired and motivated, Turbine organizes Entrepreneur’s Talks. This is an opportunity for founders of new start-ups to learn about the journey of seasoned entrepreneurs, to ask them for advice and to exchange ideas with them.

Julien Faliu is the founder and CEO of Expat.com. On January 15th, 2020, he shared his journey as an entrepreneur with us.
Expat.com is a support network for people who have embarked on the life abroad journey. Julien explains that today, the company operates on three axes:
(i) Country guides for expats.
(ii) Community building around
And these first two are completely free for anyone who would like to use them.
(iii) An online marketplace for services/ products catering to expatriates.

Motivation to start:

As an expat having worked in many different countries himself, he found that wherever he went in the world, there was a lot of information available about the country to tourists but not to expatriates. Furthermore, it is often difficult to find the right and qualified professionals in a country if you are not from there.

He got his initial business idea in England in 2003 where he was selling health insurance to people online. He was in London and was selling insurance to people all over the globe. He was fascinated by how he could be selling a product to someone in New Zealand and be making money even while he was sleeping.

At the time, Julien was still employed, and he had a brilliant idea that he pitched to his boss at the time. The idea was simple; instead of buying clicks online through different websites that would post the ads, they would implant their insurance calculators on various websites. They would pay the websites that they had identified as strategic partners and would be buying leads instead of clicks.
Around the same time, he started targeting individuals with similar needs and pains by means of a blog that would post relevant content for those pain points.

When he arrived in Mauritius, he started working full time on his project. At the time he had less than half a million rupees to get started but he did it anyway. He knew he could code, and he knew he could work hard.

 

Resilience and the growth of the company.

These were early days when he had launched expat-blog.com and he says that what got him through everything was having a network of friends that supported him and a girlfriend at the time, now wife, that understood his work to drive.

He was honest with himself about what he could and could not do, but he also knew where his shortcomings lied. And that for him, this was graphics. He says that design and branding is an important aspect of a business. This is the reason why he started looking more into his branding and his design. At the time the expat-blog.com logo looked like this:

Today it looks like this:

The process of rebranding his company in this way was painful for him. Especially re doing the logo. The branding was so close to his experience in starting off the business that there was a sense of loss when he decided to give up the original logo. Re-branding from expatblog.com to expat.com also came with its challenges for Julien. He shares that when they had first changed the domain, it had certainly cost him a bit but not just in the bank.

Making the switch also brought about a loss of about two thirds of the traffic to their website. This had seriously threatened the viability of expat.com, the only plus side of this was that Julien found a way to deal with the stress by working out. During that period, he lost almost 10Kg.

 

Founder Lifestyle:

Julien says it is important to surround yourself with people that you trust and can depend on. He also says that having a healthy coping mechanism when it comes to stressful times is very important. As a founder, he finds it very effective to be a counsellor/ advisor to his customers. This builds trust with them and it is the reason why they will keep coming back to your service when compared to others.

A word of caution:

It is important, he says, to become weary when big chunks of your revenue come from one client. He learnt this the hard way. He says dependency, whether it is on clients for revenue or whether it is more internal in that there is a lot of work that depends on one person. Beware!
If you have a staff member whom a lot of work relies on, they become a threat to your business, unless you can find a way of aligning your interests towards the company.

In order to build a start up, it is always important to find product market fit. One of the ways to do this is to build an MVP and launch it. This article explores how to build an MVP, which should be the first step to building your startup.

 

 

What is an MVP?

Definition: An MVP stands for a Minimum Viable Product – not Most Valuable Player!

An MVP is the first version of your product, with condensed functionality and a small set of users, think of it as a prototype. The simplest, most basic version of what it is you want to create.

Building an MVP is a crucial part of building a lean process or a product. This means designing and building it with as little redundancy as possible.

How to build one?

 

1.     Research

Say you have thought about the start-up you would like to create. The first thing to do is your research. This does not need to be an elaborate, 3-month long process where you deploy the scientific method to ascertain how accurate your hypothesis is.

Speak to your potential users, and if you don’t know who your users are: Houston, we have a problem. You should not be developing anything unless you know who you are targeting.

When thinking about a business idea, there are two key questions you need to answer

  • What is the problem I am trying to solve?
  • Who is looking for this solution?

Once you have answered these two questions, lock them down and don’t compromise on them. Remember this diagram:

 

2.     Building your MVP

 

There are countless tools that allow you to build a MVP almost free of cost. In Mauritius, it’s easy to say that they are no viable or affordable online payment facilities, but the truth of the matter is that you don’t need one: When Airbnb launched their MVP, they had no payment facilities – users where paying home owners with cash on arrival. They also did not have any map views that allowed users to view where exactly the space they were about to rent was. And the cherry on top of the cake is that one of the founders was coding part time.

 

 

If you want to start prototyping, here are a few tools that might help:

 

 

3.     LAUNCH!

Launch, and launch quickly. Don’t fixate on making whatever it is you are building perfect.

Starting social media pages costs nothing. So for the third time, LAUNCH IT!

Once that is done talk to your users, understand how they use your solution, get as much feedback as you can. Remember to keep these two factors fixed.

  • The problem you are looking to solve
  • The target customer

 

This will bring us to our next step.

 

4.     Iterate

 

Iterating means to adapting your product while keeping the feedback you have received in mind.

There is a clear difference between Iterating and Pivoting. Remember the diagram from Earlier?

Here is the diagram explaining the difference between an iteration and a pivot:

 

And there you go… Getting started on your business is as simple as this. So launch your business idea and apply to Test Drive!

 

Some references for this article:

In October 2018 Turbine,  ran the first edition of the Test Drive Program. Connectme was one of the 30 projects pre-incubated at Turbine and one of the 4 of them that followed through into the incubation program.

We asked Jason Delorie, the founder of Connectme, a few questions about his journey as an entrepreneur with regards to the first phase of the start-up called Tutorme.

How did you choose your first are of activity? Was there a specific reason why you chose to start with the education sector?

As our co-founder, Eva Graham,  is an educator herself, she has an intimate understanding of the sector and has faced many of the pains all tutors on the island face. With deeper investigation into the local tuition experience, we quickly identified that parents/students were facing multiple pains of their own. Like how to find the right tutor in an industry that relies heavily on word-of-mouth?

I was surprised to learn that over 80% of children in Mauritius receive tuition (according to stats.gov.mu) There had to be a better way for parents to search, evaluate and book trusted tutors to ease the process. For tutors they needed to increase their customer reach and focus more on what they do best, teach. Rather than administrative tasks. Thus, TutorMe was created, a web-based platform connecting tutors and parents.

How did you decide that to go forward with this specific idea?

Looking at the bigger picture we realised that the issues being faced are not limited to just the Tuition industry. In fact, most customers and providers are facing these issues across all services industries. This led to the formation of ConnectMe Ltd holding company with the mission to leverage technology to ease connection and communication of customers and service providers on a hon a human level.

What are the key challenges in your entrepreneurial endeavor?

As with any business we have faced multiple challenges. After registering the company, we had difficulty opening the necessary bank accounts to start trading pushing back our launch. We are now looking at our next big challenge of raising capital to sustain our growth. This will pose it’s own challenges in terms of recruiting the right team and leading them to build the service we are looking to offer.

Where do you see the company in 5 years/10 years?

The goal would be two-fold and could certainly happen simultaneously: To expand to the African continent by starting with Kenya as point of anchorage. And secondly, or simultaneously, expanding to different service sectors as the aim of the company is to connect customers to professional and trustworthy service providers.

 

What advice would you give to those who want to enter entrepreneurship?

My personal advice would be to really validate your concept, the more in-depth research and understanding of your customer the better decisions you will be able to make. In addition, I would encourage budding entrepreneurs to be part of the startup ecosystem, ours was that of Turbine, it has allowed us to share our experiences and learn from others facing similar problems while always being open to change and pivoting.

It has also provided us with an ever-growing network, once you meet one innovator, you are very likely to find others. It can truly create a point of advantage to become a part of a dynamic community who are always supporting one another.

 

How do you plan to raise fund to sustain growth?

As we are early on in our journey, we are aiming to raise seed funding from Business angels rather than VC’s. Although they are some investors in Mauritius looking to provide seed funding, they are few and far between. This, I believe is a great disadvantage to the Mauritian startup ecosystem as small amounts of funding are essential at the early stage to ensure entrepreneurs can grow their business to its full potential.

 

Why Kenya as a point of entry into the African continent?

We are exploring Kenya as our future route to the African Market due to my personal connections from having lived there for 16 years. In addition, the startup ecosystem, particularly in the technology sector is not only robust but booming with a lot of international attention. Lastly with the growing middle-class access to customers in our target market is high.

 

 

How have you benefited from having Turbine Incubator to accompany you during these early stages of the company?

It has helped a lot. The Test Drive program has allowed us the opportunity to ascertain whether the business idea was worth exploring or not. We met a lot of interesting people during this program as well. Furthermore, being part of the incubation has been very beneficial to the startup as a support structure. The subsidized coworking over the past year allowed us to work with an intern at the office place, the weekly business coaching kept us in check with regards to our targeted milestones. We have also been able to consult with experts from different industries as well as get an insight into different subject matters such as accounting and marketing.