Hosted at the Ekurhuleni West TVET College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator (CfERI) in Katlehong, the 20-week-long programme will help the start-ups to refine their innovations, with the intention of creating a “market-fit” product or service that solves specific challenges in various industries.
Royal HaskoningDHV Southern Africa will offer training and mentorship in technologies like data analytics and artificial intelligence, and will collaborate with the start-ups on marketing, real-world testing, and solutions development. This will be complemented by business and project management skills development, to be facilitated by co-sponsors, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the City of Ekurhuleni, the National Youth Development Agency, and United Drone Holdings.
The 13 start-ups were chosen from a group of 40 applicants after a rigorous selection process. Although some businesses are already established in fields like security and construction, their founders understand the potential of drone technology to grow their income, boost skills development, and create jobs.
“In many industries, drones enable us to break through new barriers in gathering and sharing real-time data, reducing costs, and increasing efficiency, safety, and security. We’re keen to help these start-ups understand how to service their future customers as best as possible as we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Gideon Treurnich, Leading Professional for Partners and Governance at Royal HaskoningDHV in South Africa.
Mitigating failure to launch
One of the many reasons why start-ups fail is a lack of customer demand for their product or service. That’s why the Drone Start-Up Accelerator Programme has adopted the Lean Start-Up Methodology, which will show them how to design a meaningful product or service that responds to the needs of a clearly defined market.
“Using ‘The Lean Start-up’ by Eric Ries – widely adopted by major global accelerators with exceptional results – will help our start-ups build a minimum viable product (MVP) that the market wants,” says Victor Radebe, founder of Mzansi Aerospace Technologies. “The programme not only shows them how to analyse market needs and develop key business and collaboration skills; it also introduces them to key customers, providing a platform for collaborative planning and future development.”
Drones, he says, is an untapped resource that has many applications in all industries, from agriculture, to photography and media, engineering and construction, and security and emergency services. What was once a technology limited to privileged hobbyists and specialist businesses, now has the potential to transform industries and boost job creation.
“The City of Ekurhuleni is honoured to host the Drone Start-Up Accelerator Programme,” says Cllr Mzwandile Masina, Executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni. “The significance of this must be considered in the context of South Africa’s socio-economic realities, and the opportunities it creates for entrepreneurship and employment in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”