On February 28th, in my 2nd Twitter Chat,  I was a guest on Tentmaker Ghana’s Twitter Chat talking about turning an idea into a business and recounting my experiences. In this post, I have compiled the questions I answered as well as my responses to the questions I was asked. So here we go!

Q1. When was the first time you conceived an idea? What was it about?

The first time I conceived what I would consider as a real business idea was when I was 11 years and in primary 6. I noticed kids in my hood loved nkate cake (groundnut cake) and condense toffee. So I thought to myself, what if I could make nkate cake and condense toffee? I could sell to these kids and make money.

Q2. Looking at the entrepreneurship landscape, to be precise in providing technology solutions, how did your first idea become a startup, can you highlight the solutions been provided by your startup? 

Well, my first tech-based idea was simple. I was an engineering student in KNUST. There was nowhere to buy electronic components for projects in Ghana. I imported electronic components and created an online store for people to order their components and have it delivered to them. It solved a pressing need. People were willing to pay for the service. So it thrived. And it still thrives till now.

Q3. What were some of the steps you took to refine the ideas you conceived? 

I spoke to mentors/experts already in the field I was in and sought their opinions. I spoke to potential customers to get their views.  I studied others who were already doing what I was trying to do to find out what they were doing right and wrong.

Q4. What do you think about the incubation of business ideas and it’s relevance in the startup ecosystem? 

I think incubators play an essential role in the entrepreneurship/startup. They help would-be entrepreneurs especially with very little knowledge, take their ideas through tools such as business model canvases to help refine those ideas into something which can be brought unto the market. They provide mentoring and other resources are necessary for new entrepreneurs so yeah, they are important

Q5. Knowing how challenging the startup ecosystem is, can you share some lessons from failing at the idea stage of any of your startups? 

Well, I had an idea for an agritech startup which failed at the idea stage for the following reasons:

  1.  Our solution to the problem we were trying to solve was not very impractical from a business point of view.
  2. My partner and I could not work on the idea full time as he was a full-time medical student.
  3. Between the two of us, we didn’t have all the necessary skills needed nor the resources to bring people with the right skills on board.

Q6. How relevant would a startup policy be to startups, government and ecosystem enablers and investors? Do you think, the ecosystem in Ghana needs a policy? 

Policy is essential in creating a framework which enables different stakeholders of the startup ecosystem to thrive. Regulators are the stakeholders in the startup ecosystem who have the responsibility of creating the policies and legal framework that makes it possible for the other stakeholders (users, industry, facilitators, academia, ) to thrive.  The role of such policies should be to ensure increased efficiency of value exchange among the different stakeholders.

Policy is essential in creating a framework which enables different stakeholders of the startup ecosystem to thrive. Click To Tweet

Q7. Share 5 key lessons to inspire someone who has an idea and want to turn it into a business idea? Recommendations

To increase the odds of your startup making it, ensure that you have a clear value proposition which resonates with a well-defined target audience who are able and willing to pay you to deliver that product or service, develop at MVP cheaply and test it out quickly. Also know that;

  1. Bad times will come. You will feel like quitting but you have to keep going.
  2. Knowledge is important. You can never stop learning. Keep improving every day.
  3. Focus is necessary. If you chase too many rabbits you will catch none.
  4. Have a mentor. Very often they can see through and point out common mistakes you may make.
  5. Connect with other entrepreneurs and learn from their successes and failures.