By Siyabonga Mkholo

For the past 6 months, I have had the pleasure of being selected to take part in the Jamlab Accelerator Programme at Tshimologong. The reason I was interested in joining the programme was because I believed that it would help take my start-up to the next level by providing the tools and resources needed to refine my business case and launch my MVP.

To date, the experience has been insightful and greatly beneficial to the growth of pocketstudio; a freelance marketplace matching production companies to the next wave of content creators. One of the biggest challenges we faced was a lack of critical validations because we did not know how we could go about setting up experiments without compromising our intellectual property. A lot of the one-on-one sessions facilitated by Phillip Mogodi really helped by providing a reliable sound-board to bounce ideas off and develop strategies on how best to move forward. These sessions were supported by a wealth of resources such as business development toolkits which helped me design the right experiments to validate my assumptions.

Furthermore, one of the more daunting tasks for any entrepreneur is creating a compelling business plan. What I personally found as a barrier was the time it takes to go through each section and populate it with enough information for the reader to fully grasp the idea. It is for this reason that found that business plans are easier postponed than done — especially when you look at it as one long document. What helped me in this case was the week-by-week breakdown of what each section of a business plan entails and then giving us time to actually work on it and present it the following week. It was a lot more manageable and I believe that it is the best way to work through a document of this nature because not only do you end up with a solid blueprint for the business that can be used to apply for funding, but you gain such a deep understanding of your business that makes it easier to present and pitch at a moments notice.

Lastly, I found great value in the Creating The Media course as it helped contextualise the business case for media start ups. The fluidity of media lends itself to a lack of descriptive texts that can clearly define a path for future creative entrepreneurs who want to take up space in the industry. This short course provided actionable insights that helped me refine my business case especially on a macro & meso level. The analysis tools helped inform our market intelligence from a vague PESTEL sheet to a clearly defined stakeholder map that outlined our stakeholders needs in relation to pocketstudio.

In closing, the only let down was the coronavirus pandemic which limited certain aspects of the programme which would have been greatly beneficial, such as demo days where we would’ve had a chance to network with various stakeholders within the industry. However, it did bring with it a lot of opportunities that were further interrogated during the one on one and group sessions. I believe that this programme is best suited for any entrepreneur who is ready to take action and just requires some hands-on guidance as to how to approach the next steps. I would highly recommend future participants to consider this program as a way to refine their business case and validate their assumptions.

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