Looking Forward, 2013 in Review

Looking Forward, 2013 in Review

One of our guiding principles that we seek to implement is transparency. As we work with entrepreneurs and companies, we think it’s important to inform you and be open about what we’re working on and how it’s going. This past year was an incredible inception for us as we officially launched Emerging Ideas. At the end of each Quarter, we’ve written quarterly reviews showcasing what projects we’re working on and the status of those. If you’ve followed closely, you’ve noticed that some projects went very well and some have flat-out failed. We think that’s part of it and we’re not going to hide those stories from you, no matter how failure makes us feel in our personal lives (read more about our thoughts on fostering failure here).

So here is our 2013 Quarter 4 report wrapped into an annual review and recap as well.

CMedia, our TV production company—in 2013 we completed the import of equipment and build out of CMedia’s new studio, it is Zimbabwe’s First High Definition (HD) TV Production Studio. CMedia was also honored by being named to the inaugural Best of Zimbabwe 2013 book—placing them in an elite class of production houses in the nation.

The Basement, the first modern youth hall in Zimbabwe—we recently wrote a post on this, but it goes without saying, we are so excited to have been able to participate in building a modern hall and meeting place dedicated to the empowerment of youth. This project was bootstrapped from the beginning but we didn’t cut any corners and the space really shows off nicely.

1 Million Cups Tulsa—in searching out vibrant startup communities to learn from, we spent a lot of time in Kansas City, Missouri, USA in 2013. You can’t be in Kansas City on a Wednesday without hearing about 1 Million Cups. Next thing you know, we had the pleasure of being on the founding team of launching 1 Million Cups in our USA home base city, Tulsa. It’s been a great success with many entrepreneurs participating weekly.

Startup Pitch Nights, Harare—off the success of 1MC Tulsa, we decided to host a startup event during Global Entrepreneurship Week in Harare, Zimbabwe. Next thing you know, we have 150 entrepreneurs in the newly opened ‘The Basement’ and we do SPNs monthly! The entrepreneur community is hungry for this type of connectivity in Harare and we’re really enjoying these events.

New Projects on the Horizon—Ethiopia (water), Zambia (mining), and a handful of projects in Zimbabwe (real estate, tech, home goods, mobile, banking). We’ve mentioned our company we’re forming in Ethiopia called Blu Nile Water Co. Tommy took another trip to Ethiopia in December and strengthened communication lines with our hydrologist and government officials. We’re optimistic that we can begin raising funding for this project by Q2 of this year.

A few failed and stalled projects (put a feather in our caps)—we had to shelve our idea regarding instant hot water heaters due to our manufacturer in Asia shifting the minimum order quantities on us after we raised investment. We still like this idea, but are not happy with our current supplier, so we’re at a standstill for the moment. We have the funds available for this project, but will need a new supplier and our window of available time has since closed, so we’ll put this idea on the shelf for now.

We also had engaged in conversations regarding creating a startup fund for Zimbabwe. We will continue to have these conversations but are looking to solidify and prove our Philanthropic Investment model a bit more in depth before we look to get into managing an investment fund.

Entrepreneurship Development Centre—this is a project we’ve hinted at, but with the grand opening of our production studio and The Basement, we are confident that we can build and design a space that will be trendy, modern, and effective for shaping entrepreneurship in the nation. We have engaged a few large corporations and organizations about their interest in supporting this project. We hope to share a nice update on that in the coming months.

Cotrade, hired first employee—mining is slow going and then extremely fast paced in spurts. It takes years of relationship development for one project, but that one project can pay off. With the holidays slowing the pace of business in general, there’s not much to report here other than we are optimistic about 2014 with our prospects of expansion into a new market.

Travel updates, Tommy had the pleasure of speaking at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town this year, as well as joining the Global Shapers in Switzerland.

Notable mentions for 2013 of course have to be when we swam in crocodile infested water and came out unscathed and, if that wasn’t enough, we then slept 30 meters from lions in Chitake Springs for 4 nights and lived to tell you about it.

Entering 2014, Building Our Existing Brands

This new year, we’re going to be focused on taking our existing portfolio to the next level with strong cash flows and sealing any personnel gaps our teams have. Our deal flow is increasing, but we’d like to see a few of those deals matriculate more into steady, consistent relationships with a few investment partners both in southern Africa and in the USA.

We currently have a few credit lines with a couple different investors that is going untapped—we’d like to find projects that can maximize returns for our loyal supporters.

As mentioned, we’ll be focused on the ever-growing startup ecosystem in Zimbabwe via educational events, our speaking and writing, and offering consulting services to those that want to take their businesses to a greater level. We want to build an entrepreneurship development centre in Harare that serves as co-working space, an accelerator space for us to work with our Emerging Ideas companies, and a meeting place for commerce and business networking events like the startup pitch night and more.

All in all, when we officially launched last year, we told you that our vision was to start 100 ideas into viable companies that impact half a million people by 2025. That is still our goal, but we want to get our model right and be able to ramp up our efforts in the right places. So we’ll launch a handful of companies this year for sure, but we’re going to take our time and be more focused on the expansion of our educational efforts and sustainability of our current projects. That, along with the strengthening of investor relationships abroad and in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is not an easy place to live, much less work—and that’s saying it lightly. But we love it here and wouldn’t trade the opportunity, pioneering, and freedom to create for the ease of filing business paperwork. Although a Starbucks on the corner would be a nice thing to have from time to time. Thank you for joining us on this adventure.

2013, you were great, but we have a feeling 2014 will be doubly better!

Tommy & Tim and the rest of the Emerging Ideas family

P.S. We’ve recently updated our website design, if you’d like to take a look, click here (it looks great on both desktop and mobile).

(photo via t. sani)