Project Updates (Q4 2014) Year in Review

Project Updates (Q4 2014) Year in Review

It’s that time again for our quarterly review. And this time it’s an annual review rolled in as well!

The disclaimer: One of our guiding principles that we seek to implement as a group is transparency. As we work with entrepreneurs and their 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 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 and here and here and here).

Here’s a list of some of our past project updates:
2012 Q4
2013 Q1
2013 Q2
2013 Q3
2013 Annual Review
2014 Q1
2014 Q2
2014 Q3

Due to our growing portfolio and list of things our team is cooking up, we’ll give you updates on the things that have had movement this quarter. If no movement, then you won’t see it in the list. For a full list on the projects we have going, click here.

So for example, we built The Basement exactly a year ago, it’s the first modern youth hall in Zimbabwe. There’s not much to update you on with a physical building space other than it’s still runs, hosts weekly events, and is cash flow positive. So we’ll file that in a list of projects on our site.

Ok enough of that…

So here is our 2014 Quarter 4 report with an annual review tied in at the end. Enjoy!

CMedia is glowing. The always-energized team is working around the clock. We just got a new piece of equipment who the camera guys are calling “The Girlfriend.” The targets this year are bold and we’ll be doing lots of internal work as well. We’re hoping to pull a few international clients on board this year. A few “secret productions” that have been undercover are bursting to be released and they will be in due time. We’re about to release the concert production of the legendary Bonnie Deuschle and Celebration Choir which was shot in December last year.

Startup Pitch Nights, Harare—First Pitch Night starts on the 29th of January and an brand new city opens its arms to Pitch Night on the 30th. Bulawayo (the city of Kings) launches this month. We’re working with Takunda Chingozoh, the NeoLab team, and the growing wave of entrepreneurs in the city. We are excited to see it grow organically.

Educate—So we’ve hit the black. With a small profit capping off the year Educate’s demand is ferociously growing and we’re looking for a second trench of investment. The team is currently knocking fervently on the doors of private investors and banks to meet the demand of this growing enterprise. Well done to Terrance (CEO) who's been bootstrapping and making things happen left and right for his team.

Entrepreneurship Development Centre (Harare, Zimbabwe)—We’ve sent out proposals, talked with the head of Zimbabwe’s Investment Authority, the Chamber of Commerce and many NGO’s who have flagged the interest of a Creative Accelerator Space. We’ve given ourselves a time boundary and will park the idea and pursuit of it if there’s not significant progress by the end of March 2015.

Cotrade Industrial Supplies—We have two paid trials scheduled for next month, after months of mine visits and phone calls. When these trials go well, it’ll set this little company up to grow quite expansively this year. That’s what we’re hoping for.

1 Million Cups Tulsa (USA)—is still going strong and meeting weekly. Started in October 2013, the event continues to draw a sizable crowd, with great entrepreneurs, ideas, and conversations. One of our co-founders, Tim, phased out of leadership and handed over the reigns to a local entrepreneur team that has been doing a smashing job running the event. This is a great success for us and a model we hope to emulate with our Pitch Night Harare event. If a local event is not taken over by local entrepreneurs who believe in the vision, then we would really be missing the point of bringing local entrepreneurs together. This will be an exciting time for 1 Million Cups Tulsa as it pioneers into it’s 2nd full year. There are a lot of unknowns with this program as in how long can a smaller midwest city sustain a program like this, but it’s been a success and weekly attendance and longevity of the program were not metrics that you can compare to the value of bringing a few people together to encourage one another, inspire their dreams, and aide in acquiring resources to start something new.

[We had the pleasure of presenting Emerging Ideas at the event early January. We’ll flick you a link when it’s live.]

Tulsa Entrepreneur Village (TULEV) (USA)—we announced this project at a recent 1 Million Cups event and will be putting together a full write-up when the investor package is ready (early this year). There are a number of old buildings along the historic Route 66 road in downtown Tulsa. They are all brick, in need of some love, but perfect to allow entrepreneurs to build their companies there. This will be a space for collaboration, incubation, and will give entrepreneurs a cheaper place to test their companies and extend that startup runway until their companies can take flight. We initially were going to name this something else, but received a strong warning from a similar group that there is a trademark on the name and we would probably be sued. So we tweaked the name, same concept, the show goes on.

As is the nature in anything when you’re starting out, it just takes time. It will take time for outside investors to trust entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe and as financing happens, it will take consistent good results for that trust to be strengthened. It’s a long-term play, but building, developing, and ultimately sustaining is not easy or quick work.

A notable mention & a few speaking engagements:
Flying into 2015, we have the privilege of rebranding and developing an expansion plan for a well-known non-profit in Zimbabwe. We’ve seen preliminary efforts already produce great results on a few philanthropic projects we had the pleasure of bringing involved in (i.e. running the logistics for expansion of the only children’s hospital in the nation, as well as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro).

A few failed and stalled projects (put a feather in our caps)—We posted about a number of things we’ve tried which have failed or stalled, which perhaps you found some humor in.

We had one deal that was signed, inked, and minted and it all fell through while we were away climbing Kilimanjaro (unbeknownst to us). We decided to leave the pieces smashed in the valley on the crags below and still have a nice relationship with the entrepreneur. Who knows, maybe it’ll resurrect itself with a nice hot mug of coffee in hand, a smile, and happen after all. Relationships are funny things sometimes.

2013 to 2014

In our 2013 Annual Review, we talked about increasing steady deal flow, securing a few strong investor relations that are interested in projects in Zimbabwe, and looking to fill ecosystem gaps in Tulsa and Harare with physical spaces to take ideas and flesh them out. It may have been optimistic of us to think that all of that could happen in one calendar year, but we have made significant headway with plans in development for physical spaces both in the USA and Zimbabwe. Our investor relationships have strengthened and we have been passing more deals and more relationships back and forth as 2014 comes to a close.

Moving into 2015, we’d like to see a couple of those more solidified deals (we’ll write about them when we can) come to fruition. This is a long game for us so we believe that 2015 will be an establishment year. With a few more ideas matriculating into companies, it’ll ultimately solidify a reputation tied to strong brands, rather than spreading our small team too thin at this time. With a number of strong successes, we can then ride that wave to launch many more entrepreneurs versus trying to launch a ton and hoping one takes.

Things continue to move forward at a nice pace. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to drop us a note by hitting reply (if this is in your email) or by hopping over to Twitter and saying hello. We look forward to connecting with you.

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

(photo via aubrey stoll)