Ampion Bus Venture, an initiative of AMPION – a non-profit entrepreneurs support organization – which provides a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs all over the African continent to pitch their ideas to selected investors and network with other entrepreneurial mindset. Moreover, it serves as a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs to globalize and develop their business or start-ups.
Prior to ‘Ampion Bus Venture’ programmes in West Africa from 19th of September, Silicon Africa caught up with Fabian–Carlos Guhl, Co- founder and Managing Director of Ampion, to share with us some of the benefits participants are likely to enjoy from this year’s event. Moreover, He responded effectively about the need for another entrepreneurs Support Organization in Africa.
SA : What’s Ampion and its role in Africa’s IT sector ?
Fabian : Ampion is a catalyst for entrepreneurs. We put together teams of developers, designers and business people to build great startups in emerging markets. We want all the great African ICT sector talent to go from huge potential to successful businesses.
SA : Is Ampion only on IT sector?
Fabian : We focus on ICT startups for a few reasons. Firstly, as I said, there’s a lot of talent in Africa in this field. Secondly, ICTs have a huge potential for growth and investment in Africa. Thirdly, they are nimble and can quickly respond to problems . ICT businesses develop much faster than others.
SA : When did Ampion begun and how many countries have you been to so far?
Fabian : AMPION is the official emerging markets spinoff of StartupBus which began in 2010 and operates in the USA and Europe. In 2013, we ran a pilot bus, under the name StartupBus Africa, from Zimbabwe to South Africa. This year, we are running 5 buses in 15 different countries.
SA : Could you tell us about Ampion bus venture ?
Fabian : AMPION Venture Bus is a hackathon and a road trip rolled into one. We get applications from entrepreneurs all over the world. Then, we select the best candidates and put them on a bus (or 5!) where they become Ampioneers. These guys form teams and start coming up with new business ideas.
The buses drive from city to city on one of our four routes in West, East, North and Southern Africa, so Ampioneers can visit different innovation centres and tech hubs as well as meet a wide range of people. After five days, the buses end up at a major conference where teams of Ampioneers pitch their best idea to Investors. We hope to create 40-50 new startups this year on the Venture Buses.
SA : How would you help emerging start-ups in Africa to develop?
Fabian : Other than helping to create their teams? We have two extra project areas that help develop the startups, both of which are new this year.
Firstly, we have introduced a Fellowship program for the best Ampioneers. This will provide access to expert mentors from all over the world, seed funding to allow the Ampioneers to focus on the startup full time and free office space in more than 30 countries in Africa.
Secondly, we are organising more major conferences for entrepreneurs in Africa. We have some major partners for conferences, including the HEC business school and DEMO Africa, and are looking to strengthen the African conference scene still further.
SA : Why do we need another entrepreneur’s support organization ?
Fabian : There is a huge amount of young, talented people in this generation of Africans – nowhere is this more evident than in Nigeria. It is no secret that many African countries currently lack sufficient employment for this new generation of workers. We believe that our work with entrepreneurs will allow more people to start their own companies and increase the total number of jobs out there. Our ability to bring together international group of investors, mentors and entrepreneurs makes our organisation different.
SA : What makes ampion uniquely different ?
Fabian : Nobody else connects different tech hubs and accelerators across Africa like we do. No other startup organisation operating on the continent has experience in both Europe and the USA. Our record on achieving extensive media coverage is also extremely impressive. Startups need all the exposure they can get and we can deliver that.
SA : You have partnered recently with Demo Africa. What’s your expectation?
Fabian : We’re really pleased to call DEMO Africa a partner. They have a huge platform that is an enormous opportunity for our West African bus (running from September 19th 2014, applications are currently open) which will culminate at this year’s Lagos conference. The best startup team from that bus will present to over 200 investors.
SA : What have you achieved so far?
Fabian : Our pilot bus produced eight new startups, three of which are still successful. For example, Sterio.Me, a GSM based e-learning app, was this year named one of the 10 most innovative companies in Africa by Fast Company Magazine.
SA : How can prospective ampioneers contact you?
Fabian : First and foremost, they can APPLY NOW here: ampion.org
They can email us: email@example.com
They can tweet us: AMPION (ampionafrica)
And they can message us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ampion.org