The Innovation Hub in Pretoria was a hive of excitement as 18 participants representing 16 of the 19 member organisations from 6 countries of the Connected Hubs met to take part in the much anticipated Peer-Learning Session. This session was the first of its kind to include the old and new Connected Hubs members who happily joined the network in February 2019. Mlabs Southern Africa hosted the 1,5 day workshop which included peer-learning about pitching and Lean Service Creation. SAIS Programme and knowledge partner Futurice, a Finnish based modern innovation consultancy firm, delivered content through a Train-the-Trainer approach. The purpose of the peer-learning session was to provide Connected Hubs members with ready-to-use techniques in innovation support to apply in their local ecosystems in benefit of the early-stage startups they work with.
The session kicked off with pitching training. It focused on the key points in preparing startups to deliver a well rounded perfect pitch competitive enough for international opportunities. “Pitching is a very necessary skill for an early stage startup and SAIS has been assisting in building capacity amongst startups in Southern Africa since 2017. We are nowhere to share best practice and learn from each other on how to coach startups to improve their pitching skills” stated Auri Evokari, SAIS International Programme Officer. Auri gave an overview of the structure of a standard 3-minute pitch and general tips for how to avoid common pitfalls. “There were good tips on pitching and also the link to the pitching mistakes videos was very useful” remarked one happy participant.
Auri Evokari presenting the basic structure of a pitch
Learning to Be Lean
On the second day, Futurice took the floor. “Our main aim is to share the mindset and tools behind Lean Service Creation with the participants. We focus on the customers and the process of lean and fast development, iteration and experimentation. This builds value for customers and our businesses. These tools will help the coaches and empower their startups to create better business sooner” said Kajsa Hasselstrom, Futurice, the facilitator of the workshop. The Futurice team also grasped the opportunity to introduce a new edition of Lean Service Creation canvases to be used in service design. The Connected Hubs were the first in the world to test the tools, allowing them to learn new skills in startup development. Meanwhile, Futurice had the chance to pilot the new edition of the open source tools. “It really offers structure to the otherwise unstructured and uncoordinated product development phase startups often go through” remarked one participant.
Kajsa Hasselstrom, from Futurice introducing the role of service design to meet business objectives
Participants busy with the group work
Sebastian Hojas from Futurice, unpacking the use of canvassing in service design to participants
The one and a half day session proved to be useful and relevant with many expressing the need to stay connected and continue on the learning trajectory, which Connected Hubs offers them in the upcoming months. “I look forward to more of these opportunities. It will be interesting to analyse my learning later together with the other members and see how my coaching improves with these tools” said one participant.