I was surprised the other day when my presentation at an event was abruptly stopped by someone who asked the question..” What do you mean you are still a startup? The TechVillage has a community of over 200 people and you have been doing this for over a year now?” I completely understood where this question was coming from and no, I did not say we are a startup just because being a startup is “cool”… it actually is not!
…So here is the deal.
When we describe what startups are, we point to how they are “searching for a business model” (Check.) How they might still be doing things that might not actually scale (Check) and how they are “resource stressed” and operating on shoestring budgets ( Double Check!) So by all means, the TechVillage is still a startup, we tick all of the boxes! Which is not to say that we have spent the last year and a half sitting on our hands. The TechVillage has grown a virtual community of over 200 people working from different parts of the world! We hosted an awesome 5-day event called The TechFest, which was essentially our coming out party and we help organise monthly Pitch Nights. More importantly, we are home to some really awesome startups based in the City of Kings (Bulawayo.) All this has been made possible by a team of visionary entrepreneurs, and a community, no an army of villagers who volunteer their time, effort, skills and energy to help bring the vision to life.
The biggest misconception I feel is that people don’t quite know how to classify socially oriented organisations. They do not know whether we are an NGO, owing to the fact that we drive social change, or a private company, given that we also generate revenue from the work that we do. The thing is, it is possible to do good and do well at the same time. Just because we are actively and aggressively growing a community, doesn’t mean that we do not have business goals… let’s face it, no one and nothing runs on fairy dust and unicorns.
…As a StartUp.
The TechVillage is a startup that has been helping innovators and entrepreneurs (customers) build companies by providing them with resources, technology, mentorship, relevant education and a community of other entrepreneurs(value proposition.) While we have delivered these services using a virtual model (channel) and interacted with our community through various online boards, groups and forums including WhatsApp groups (customer relationships,) our customers and community members have taught us that more physical interaction is necessary. Building on the feedback we got from the increasing number of events (key activities) that we have hosted, we decided to set up a physical space for our entrepreneurs in Bulawayo. Even though work on getting a space started over a year ago, we have finally found a home for the TechVillage. This startup is finally morphing into a business and it is all thanks to our growing army of villagers.
We can’t wait to show you just what it is going to look like! You can also join the TechVillage community, joining the community is free, just click the sign-up button and do check out our site as well!