Applications for startup and early stage entrepreneurs are requested for South Africa’s newest SME support program: The HackR House.
It is a commonly accepted view among entrepreneurship experts that almost 80% of small businesses fail within the first 3 years of operation. This is in spite of an increase in government and private support systems and even the formation of the Ministry of Small Business. Incubators, accelerators, growth funds all have a role to play in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs, however these initiatives seem to have little effect.
“One of the reasons why South Africans aren’t as adept to starting businesses as other areas like Palo Alto, Tel Aviv, London and other global hubs is we lack a culture of entrepreneurship” says Craig Wing, Founder of the HackR House. “When entrepreneurs are accepted into an incubator, their mind shift switches from being a “startup” to being an “established business.” This is the start of the end. Look at the Google’s and Facebook’s of this world; they started in a dorm room or garage where the founders worked on their startups 24/7. There was no time off, holidays or weekends. Their businesses is what they lived, ate and breathed.”
Entrepreneurs living together have a higher probability of success.
“Entrepreneurs need support all hours of the day. Often come, say 2am, they won’t be able to sleep rather they’re thinking about a solution to a problem or thoroughly stressed about business. It’s in these moments that they need support, not when things are fine.”
“The HackR House was created from my experience to address these and other problems. My key thesis is: Entrepreneurs living together have a higher probability of success, especially when coupled with the right support at the right time and with enough pressure to drive them to success, not wasting months and years chasing an idea that's infeasible.”
Based off his personal experience starting four companies including one in Silicon Valley, Wing certainly makes a compelling argument, especially when you consider that he has personal funded the entire development of the HackR House.
Four teams of two entrepreneurs living alongside each other.
The HackR house will have four teams of two entrepreneurs who will live alongside each other for a maximum of six months. During the formal launch of the program, every two months they will need to complete an entrepreneurial challenge: Minimum Viable Product (MVP), first customer and revenue generation.
HackR House will provide additional support such as lean startup advice, coaching, mentoring from established entrepreneurs who have a combined 150 years of entrepreneurship experience.
There is also support from HPLife, LEAP and Ignitor. Even though a nominal monthly rental is charged starting at R3,000, support services are valued at over R5,000 per month at R3,000. At the end of the program, entrepreneurs will be connected to funders and other access to market opportunities through the partnerships formed.
“We really believe the HackR House is something new and innovative in the SME space and has the potential to shift trajectory of the entrepreneurs selected” commented Petra Rees, Head of Business at LEAP. “We are proud to be a partner and have committed our resources such as the Entrepreneur Scan, GrowthWheel and a complimentary subscription to our virtual PA service: HeyJude Professional.”
Hollywood has glamorised success in Silicon Valley.
A further reason entrepreneurs fail is the misguided belief that entrepreneurship is easy where Hollywood has glamorised the success and ease of companies like Google (for example, The Internship) and Facebook (The Social Network) and their journey from startup to global behemoths.
However the emotional and psychological toil on founders is not often spoken about and “Imposter syndrome” is commonplace. “As an entrepreneur myself and working with them on a daily basis, the reality is an incredibly tough journey. Most entrepreneurs don’t have support systems or an understanding family. It’s during the lowest times that the best support is from fellow entrepreneurs on the same rollercoaster” said Abu Cassim, founder of Ground Flr a network of global funders looking to invest in emerging market startups and one of the listed mentors.
“The HackR house model of “Live In” Entrepreneurship could dramatically increase the success rate simply by providing timeous support of others who truly understand the lows, frustrations and loneliness of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is a crazy lifestyle choice, you may as well go all in.”
The HackR House will help to ensure potential entrepreneurs are informed about the journey they are about to embark upon where those selected entrepreneurs will need to do a daily one-minute video blog expressing their personal emotional journey. “These daily videos will be upload to YouTube where the public can see the real entrepreneurial journey and get a glimpse of the often neglected lows of being an entrepreneur,” says Wing. “Ultimately, the long term vision is to decentralize incubation and business support while creating our own versions of Silicon Valley neighbourhoods in South Africa, possibly across the country.”
The HackR House has opened applications for interested entrepreneurs for the pilot phase (without programmatic support) with the first round closing on the 2nd October 2017 and the second round closing on the 16th October 2017.
The full program will launch in February 2018 with potential media and PR partners coming on board to develop a fully immersive journey for entrepreneurs not lucky enough to be accepted into the HackR House to follow their progress at home.