From March 20 – April 2, 500 Startups brought a group of 22 “geeks” to Africa for our 18th Geeks on a Plane (GOAP) tour. Over two non-stop weeks, the group of entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives got an in-depth look at the West and South African startup and investment ecosystems through events like accelerator visits, mentoring sessions, dinners with US ambassadors, pitching events, tech conferences, and evening meetups. Below is our summary, insights, and takeaways from the trip.
GEEKS ON A PLANE OVERVIEW >>
- 3 countries & 4 cities (Lagos, Nigeria / Accra, Ghana / Johannesburg, South Africa / Cape Town, South Africa)
- 43 events over 2 weeks (including accelerator visits, pitch competitions, intimate roundtable discussions, embassy dinners, red carpet events, and one helluva safari)
- 22 ‘Geeks’ representing financial services/fintech, social impact investing, government, and venture capital
- Connections to top investors/investment firms (like African Capital Alliance, Venture Garden Group, EchoVC, and Singularity Investments in Nigeria, Pave Investments and Chanzo Capital in Ghana, and 4di, Edge Growth, and AngelHub Ventures in South Africa)
- Connections to public sector officials including the Nelson Mandela family, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, US Embassy Charges d’ Affaires Jessye Lapenn, Ghana Ministry of Communication Liaison, the U.S. Consul General F. John Bray, Minister Naledi Pandor from the South African Department of Science and Technology, and Minister Rob Davies from the South African Department of Trade & Industry
- Connections with local accelerators and entrepreneur communities (Andela, CCHub, Seedstars, MEST, Startup Grind Cape Town, Barclays Rise, Workshop 17, IBM Innovation Lab, Google Launchpad)
- Over two dozen pieces of press coverage, including a TV interview by CNBC Africa and online article by TechCrunch
SEE ALL THE GOAP PRESS COVERAGE HERE
WHAT SOME GEEKS SAID >>
- “GOAP was an intense road trip with some incredible people. It’s a strong mix of networking, learning and having fun. The access to local tech leaders was very valuable and made it easy to build up a picture of what’s really happening in Africa” – Itai Damti, CEO Asia Pacific, Leverate
- “Geeks on a Plane has contributed significantly to my personal and professional development. GOAP creates a context to make great new friends, insights, and opportunities. Anyone interested in really understanding the global investment and entrepreneurship landscape should consider becoming a geek!” – Dave Troy, CEO, 410 Labs
- “RippleWorks only works with the best social ventures in the world. GOAP short-circuited the time it took me to meet great entrepreneurs and ventures that have a legit shot to build a great business AND make the world a better place.” – Doug Galen Co-Founder & CEO RippleWorks
- Large population: Nigeria (190M), South Africa (55M), Kenya (48M), Ghana (28M)
- More than half of the global population growth predicted between now and 2050 is expected in Africa, where the number of people is set to more than double, from 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion. [The Guardian]
- Lagos alone has a population (21M) that is increasing by 85 people per hour and is larger than the city of London (8.63M) and nearly equal to Beijing (21.5M).
- Smartphone penetration is rising: South Africa (34%), Nigeria (30%), Kenya (15%), Ghana (14%)
- Emerging markets present challenges in infrastructure, financial services, and online commercial activity that are ripe for entrepreneurs to solve.
- More recommended reading on the Africa Startup Ecosystem: