Start-ups looking to build tech products have a range of options for bringing their products to market
In the last four months, technology has become unavoidable for most, if not all, businesses. Where there were restrictions before, now, we are open to a whole world of technologically supported possibilities. So, companies entering the market have to think more carefully about product delivery and place an emphasis on technology that might not have been a requirement before.
For many people, this presents a barrier to entry into the building and growing a start-up. A founder might have a strong idea, strategy and business plan, but get stuck when it comes to the development of the product or service. In this case, there are often three options:
1. Technical co-founder, who will handle the technology development and all the processes therein. This person or entity will own a part of the business.
2. Chief Technology Officer (CTO), an employee, that will direct the technical aspects of the business.
3. Technical Partners/ Consultants, to whom one can outsource the required technical development
Perhaps the biggest difference among these three options, is in terms of the compensation. The Tech Co-founder has equity in the firm, while the CTO is an employee (this does not exclude his/ her having a form of ownership), while the consultants are external parties that are paid as they would be for a project.
There are many businesses that start with a tech co-founder/cto, whereby one founder already has the expertise to handle the technical aspects of the business and assumes the CTO position while being recognised as the co-founder. Some companies grow and find that they need a senior technical executive, then hire a CTO, while others just outsource. However, not every founder will know or have access to an experienced technical director with the expertise and/or funds to drive the technical development of the business offerings or help to grow the business. In this case, an option is to search for a technical co-founder, who can provide both the technical direction for product development and business processes for the firm in exchange for some equity. Given the lack of access most small businesses in the country face, finding this support is not always so straight forward. However, there are companies that are changing that.
Faster Capital, a tech co- Founder in the UAE, provides a novel solution to the start-up ecosystem. It is an incubator that invests in businesses, asking for up to 50% of the company’s equity, while they provide technical development worth $20,000 to $2,000,000- depending on its value. That is something that one might need to weigh against investing the money to get your own technical team to develop the product on your own or hiring a CTO.
Faster Capital democratises the start-up ecosystem in a very meaningful way. A great idea and business model need not go to waste, and we think that is powerful. So far, they have incubated over 100 companies from fashion, to real estate, to education, to food, across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The support offered is robust, with a technical team on hand to continuously modify, add or fix features.
Beyond the technical development of the startup’s products or services, Faster Capital assists in finding mentors, and in some cases. Investors. Although they do prefer that the company has already secured 50% of its required funding. It is a virtual incubator. So, start-up founders would not need to physically be in the UAE to be a part of this.
Along those lines of support, Faster Capital has expanded its offering to include two other programs: Idea to Product and Grow your Startup, which capture the rest of the value chain – before building the product, and after it has been built. It works in the same way as the Tech coFounder program, support in exchange for equity. This brings access to the millions of ideas that would otherwise have remained just so.
Taking things, a step further, on June 16th 2020, the company launched its annual women round. It is specifically aimed at startups that have at least one female co-founder. Given their three programs that cut across the business value-chain, from ideation, through technical/product development, to increasing sales channels, there is an opportunity for everyone.
Faster Capital is worth considering as a partner to bring your business to life precisely because it offers the different levels of business support that potential and current startup founders need. Once you have a good proposition that solves a problem, and a willingness to exchange equity for the robust support to offer. You are well on your way.
At Spurt! we are intensely committed to seeing African businesses thrive beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, solving and innovating for the continent. Faster Capital brings more opportunities to the space, and we are quite confident that this will do good for a good number of people.
Kristin & Oladoyin