Late last year, I attended one of the world’s foremost technology and entrepreneurship events dubbed Slush, in Helsinki Finland. Slush is an experience that leaves one with a very tangible feeling of an ecosystem melting pot, having all publics that would and should play in any entrepreneurship lifecycle, present and active.
With 4,000 startups from across the globe, over 2,000 different-stage investors, a multitude of corporates that made part of a 25,000-strong attendee pool last year alone, there are few other places where one can get good data on the direction that startups are headed.
The team at Slush analysed cohort data across six years of applications by 15,000 startups and mapped out trends, that riding off the sample base would be a mirror for what is happening in Africa as well.
Everyone seems to be looking to build out a platform. The truth is that it is often not possible to address all possible service permutations from a business’s core offering and therefore allowing others to make use of the core to power their own business allows for risk to be spread out and counts towards driving bottom-line growth. This goes hand in hand with the design and deployment of application programming interfaces (APIs) that are necessary for this interaction.
Regardless of industry, teams are working to improve operational efficiencies that go beyond simple automation using machines and software; infusing recognition, learning, planning and problem-solving abilities, not just rote execution of code and processes. It may not be slapped on product or service packaging but user experience and competitive advantage can be markedly different because of its smart application. AI is broad with different subthemes that may be used individually or collectively.
The explicit categorisation of user experiences as mobile is on the decline. Responsiveness and multichannel availability are now considered as a default, baked into products and services. It would all come full circle when, for example, ‘mobile money’ as made popular by the fintech boom settles back to just ‘money’.
Payments is still a sizzling opportunity, and it is not difficult to see why. Commerce is underpinned by the ability to make and receive payments. Making it cheaper, faster, more convenient continues to be a running concern while different generations and business setups relate differently to the mediums. Cash is still king across most of the African continent.