4 reasons why Internet usage in Africa is a fraction of that in the West

  Most Africans are Internet-virgins. Streaming video and playing World of Warcraft is not on the average African’s list of things to do on the Internet. The heaviest usage is watching music videos on YouTube. Devices are mostly mobile, and therefore have limited screen size and keyboard functionality. Again, this means most Africans are not…

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Why venture capital is difficult in SA (and Africa)

Venture capitalists don’t invest in products or jockeys. They invest in exits.The only way to justify the high investment failure rate is to have regular exits at valuations much greater than 10x.When taking into account the time value of money, dividends don’t cut it. Only selling the business can realize sufficient return for a VC…

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Some tips for non-technical entrepreneurs

A friend recently asked me for some basic tips on how to develop an app business… here’s a summary of my mail to her:High-level advice: Don’t build it and expect customers to come. They won’t. They’re busy. Sell it, then build it. Consumer apps are hard work and dependent on a huge amount of luck….

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Entrepreneurs stay away from overheads

Overheads in the form of recurring monthly expenses are the same as debt.Best case you hand in notice and pay-up for another month.Worst case you discover you must pay 12 months termination fee.Either way, it requires cash and it slows you down.When you’re in a small business, survival is all about cash and speed.Stay away from…

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The biggest lesson from the story of General Motors (My years at GM by Alfred Sloane)

Henry Ford completely dominated the motorcar industry for almost two decades, from 1907 onwards. His vision of bringing raw basic transport to the masses was epitomized by the Model T.His 70% market share entrenched economies of scale that no competitor could match, resulting in the Model T being the cheapest car on the road.Where he…

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Data networks should be priced like toll-roads

There are three truths about telecoms today:First, everyone wants free Internet access (WiFi preferably).Second, everyone wants both data and voice services on their mobile phone.Third, everyone wants  video content, it’s the killer entertainment medium.The modus operandi for telcos is to try and address all three burning needs on the same network, with the net result being lower data…

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Why public Free WiFi is essential in Africa

I’ve just returned from vacation where I was staying at a house that had no 3G or WiFi. All I had was Edge. It was like being back on a feature phone. Very, very, very frustrating. Edge is ok for sending short text emails, but attachments seem to clog the system and fail epically, and all…

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Business Brilliant extract: 7 secrets to being a multi-millionaire

(extracted from Business Brilliant, by Lewis Schiff) 1. Follow your passion and then follow the money. The money will not follow you. 2.  Play to your strengths. Delegate your weaknesses. 3.  It’s all about your network. 4. Heads I win, tails I don’t lose. No need to risk your personal savings. Make sure you’ve protected your downside…

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7 ways to fail

 1.    Too much ego or too little egoIt’s obvious that having too much ego is a sure-fire way to fail. But if you have no confidence you will also fail. Arrogance is like salt on a pizza. Too much and you ruin it. Too little and there is no taste.2.    Not listening or listening too…

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Success secret: Take an early big risk, then focus on not losing

Once you’ve read Art of War by Sun Tzu, the biography of Cyrus the Great, or any of the wisdom of Charlie Munger & Warren Buffett, you will quickly realise that the secret to winning is “not losing”.These guys all ensured that whatever they do, they can’t be killed if it doesn’t work out (financially…

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What do you do when you discover your business partner is not right for you?

  Sometimes you go into business with someone and after a couple months/years you realise you’ve made a mistake. He’s a crook, or lazy or simply doesn’t share your values.Time for divorce. How?The simplest option is to abandon ship. Start again and be more careful choosing a partner. This entails leaving behind all your effort,…

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Forced voting: Another reason I can’t live in Australia

  In Australia it’s illegal to not vote during national elections.I thought democracy is supposed to be about freedom of choice? To me, being forced to vote or go to jail (actually, iI think you pay a fine but I prefer the jail analogy) sounds like a tyranny.Also, forcing people to do things even if…

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