Project Updates (2014 Q1)

Project Updates (2014 Q1)

One of our guiding principles that we seek to implement as a group 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. 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 2014 Quarter 1 report. Enjoy!

CMedia, our TV production company—we’re entering uncharted territories with CMedia. As a now semi-established brand in the Zimbabwean media market, we are now seeking new relationships, partners, and continuing to build upon our rockstar team. We downsized and let a few people go toward the end of last year, opening up room for talented up and comers… We secured a strong internship in the USA for one of those up and comers who is planning on joining the Zimbabwe team full-time later this year.

The Basement, the first modern youth hall in Zimbabwe—If you had asked us a few years ago if we thought we would be building as much as we are, it wouldn’t have been on our minds. But to have the best event spaces and working spaces, you really have to own the culture and create them. This project was bootstrapped from the beginning but we didn’t cut any corners and the space really shows off nicely. It’s continuing to pick up steam as being seen as a place to hold events, and it’s still cash flowing and funding a local church youth group as well, we couldn’t be happier about that.

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. Tim has continued to travel to Kansas City monthly and build bridges between the Tulsa entrepreneur community and the thriving community in KC. We can’t announce it yet, but there is interesting talk with a potential player in the KC startup scene building a 2nd home in Tulsa. More on that when it breaks.

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! We wrote another update on this last week, but the startup community is starting to stretch its legs with each month’s event.

95% Market Share Conference—Getting people to “get” it when it comes to relationship marketing. We’ve joined forces with VBF (Victory Business Forum) and The HUB to bring out Jim Niekamp, a man like no other who took his company to owning over 95% market share in his industry, to Harare for 2 days. The Marketing Association of Zimbabwe has jumped on board and so are hundreds of leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs and idea men. This will be on the 26th of May.

A few failed and stalled projects (put a feather in our caps)—we are most likely going to shelve the Ethiopian water project for now. We have some great relationships, but without the direct boots on the ground there, it’s not shaping up to move as quickly as we intended. We’re not closing the door on a water company, just pivoting slightly and focusing on other projects. And plus with an increasingly thriving community in Harare, we’re having too much fun to start trying to criss-cross the continent at this time.

Entrepreneurship Development Centre—there’s not much movement here but we have our eyes set on 3 possible sites. We are interested in building a space solely dedicated to entrepreneurship education and development. It will happen, it’s just a matter of when. We have a few interesting things in the works here in both the USA and Zimbabwe, but for some reason investors and building owners get worked up when you start announcing things that aren’t “official.” We’ll keep you in our loop when it’s concrete.

Cotrade Industrial Supplies—mining is slow going and then extremely fast paced in spurts. Liquidity is tight and there are some jobs that we did at the end of last year that still haven’t been fully paid for. It takes years of relationship development for one big project, but that one project can pay off. We’re bashing down the doors of 3 major mines for new projects and got help from a local lawyer in our approach for long term contracts. There’s not much to report here other than we are optimistic about 2014 with our prospects of expansion into a new market.

Planned Adventures

It wouldn’t be an Emerging Ideas quarter without our upcoming plans for adventure. In May, we’re planning a meeting of the minds on Lake Kariba where we’ll go crocodile hunting, fishing and relaxed brainstorming. We’ve also been asked to come climb Mt Kilimanjaro with a group of investors, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. The whole point of the trip is to raise funds for relocating orphans to a new community in Harare that’s being built. How can you say no to that? Also the CEO of Thou Mayest Coffee Co is getting hitched! So we’ll be planning a manly rendezvous to celebrate the special day.

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 mentioned in our Annual Review 2013 that we were seeking to fund a few initiatives early 2014. We have two deals in terms negotiations currently. One is a Harare education finance company that we are beyond excited about (more to come)! And the other is an American business incubator moving into a new USA market. Few interesting things on the tech scene will be emerging soon as well.

Cheers,
Tommy & Tim and the rest of the Emerging Ideas family

(photo via mrschnips)