A global perspective – Zachariah George – Tech4Africa 2014

U-Start Africa COO Zachariah George has spent most of his career on Wall Street, as an investment banker. He’s lived in South Africa for the past few years, advising investors on business opportunities in emerging markets, like this one. This, he says, gives him a global and local perspective. His Tech4Africa 2014 talk, he says, will be very practical – detailing what international investors look for in early stage emerging market tech ventures, how to build financial plans, strategies for attracting investment – what to do and what not to do, and how to align your venture’s interest to that of an investor.

“It’s very practical and looks at things like ROI and debt versus equity and valuation methodologies, instruments like convertible notes versus equity, dilution laws when you look at rounds of investment. It’s the kind of information an entrepreneur would be well served knowing before get into a roundtable with an investor, for example.”

Attendees at Tech4Africa CT will also be treated to 10 or 15 minutes of walk-through into how ventures are evaluated. “If someone can give me an answer to ‘how do you value a tech company’ I’ll quit my job and go work for them,” he not entirely jokes. The 10-minute walk-through on what Silicon Valley investors look for is usually charged for and represents 10 years of IP, he says. Companies like Pinterest, twitter and Uber were valued with no revenue. How do you do that? George plans to give some high-level insight into that complex equation.

Another thing he’ll get into, he says, is something many entreprenuers don’t focus on – how to make money for their investors. “Are they options to buy yourself out of the business and make money for your investors that way?

If I’m a financial tech startup do I have clear understanding of Old Mutual’s portfolio and could I sell my app to them? Most entrepreneurs don’t think about exit opportunities.”

Tech4Africa is probably one of the few events that gathers entrepreneurs, investors and everyone in the incubation/acceleration space into one common area with interests that serve every stakeholders needs – even banks and law firms, he says, which is why he submitted a session this year.

“I work with tech entrepreneurs every day and there’s no structured forum for them. This is a good forum for people to share opinions and insight. I’m doing my bit and speaking for 45 minutes, but I’m really there to hear the entrepreneurs talk about their experiences, they’re the real rockstars.”