StartupAFRICA is passionate about telling African success stories, celebrating trail-blazing entrepreneurs and their innovative, disruptive solutions.
Launched at the beginning of last year, six editions of the online magazine have already been published, and it has switched from being a bi-monthly to a monthly title. This was due to the overwhelming demand from both entrepreneurs wanting to be profiled, and eager readers.
“This continent is rich with talent, but not enough people are getting exposure, especially young entrepreneurs and business aspirants,” says editor in chief, Baradi Moletsane, explaining why the publication was created.
A platform for ordinary people
A team of six people works on the publication, supported by a network of contributors. The latest edition of startupAFRICA was all-women themed, in celebration of Women’s Month.
Asked how the team picks the stories to be included, Moletsane replies, “We have an informal mandate of shying away from profiling people that are already famous. It’s really a platform for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
The team also uses social media to track down entrepreneurs with exciting projects on the go, and to connect with them. A lot of times, the entrepreneurs contact the publication themselves.
“A lot of media publications don’t tell stories about people authentically. They’ll interview them, but they will tell it in their own way. We really try our best and make a conscious effort to profile people in the most authentic way possible, them telling their own story,” she adds.
Revenue generation strategy
Like any media publication, the biggest question will always be around revenue generation and how the offering financially stays afloat.
“We’ve struggled a bit because we are fairly new,” admits Moletsane, but adds, “The success of a publication is based on its readership numbers, so we are focusing on building our readership so that we can move to the sponsorship element”.
Many corporates have been contacted for funding, but most share the sentiment that the publication needs to grow its reader base before any money is committed.
Currently, startupAFRICA has around 30 000 unique visitors a month, but it is working hard on growing this number. The reader demographics match perfectly with the content, as it’s young business aspirants who are mostly visiting the site. Quite a few visitors mistakenly believe that startupAFRICA is linked with a funding body, so visit as they are looking for start-up capital.
A print edition is also in the pipeline for next year, with an eye on a partnership with the department of trade and industry.
“We’re all moving towards doing everything online. We wanted to go print, but it’s a tricky one, also bearing in mind what is happening with a lot of print publications … But our aim is print next year, particularly in airports,” she reveals.
Launching an app is also on the cards for 2019, with the aim being that it will house comprehensive profiles of entrepreneurs which can be linked to corporates who can provide funding.
Leveraging social media conversations
Aside from using social media platforms to source content, startupAFRICA is using the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote itself by leveraging trending conversations. Aligning the publication’s messaging with these popular conversations, in an authentic way, is the strategy.
Posting informative, educational, entertaining, engaging and relevant content is also key.
Looking ahead, the publication plans to utilise more video content and incorporate YouTube a lot more.
Lessons for young entrepreneurs
Having overseen the telling of many success stories of entrepreneurs, Moletsane has the following advice for young, aspirant tycoons.
- Fear is your biggest stumbling block, just start!
- Make mistakes and learn from them.
- Talk to people who are in business who will give you wise counsel.
- Keep up with current affairs because you can learn a lot from what’s on the news.
- Do your research and understand your market.
- Create a dream team. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is they employ people for the sake of filling the spots. Make sure they are as passionate about the field as you.
A PR and communications background
Moletsane, who is very passionate about the growth and development of the youth on the African continent, comes from a PR and communications background. Graduating in 2013, she started off with PR Worx as an account executive. She moved to an account manager position, before switching to Epic PR Group. A stint as a communication specialist at KPMG followed, before she transitioned to her current position.
“I’m highly opinionated, always writing and big on ideas, anything that has to do with start-ups, she says.
To read the latest edition of startupAFRICA, click here.
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog, publishers of The Media Online and The Media. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8