Building Blocks: From South Africa to EIA
One of the top teams of EIA Hong Kong, Building Blocks, aims to help startups advancing from creation to the growth stage. We spoke with Jeniffer Mpho Lebethe (CEO) to learn more about the startup that was born at EIA 2019.
How would you explain Building Blocks in a nutshell?
Building Blocks is a South African registered company that focuses on two core activities. The first is providing entrepreneurship education to high school students from grades 9 to 12 through a bespoke 8 module curriculum designed to help young people learn how to enterprise themselves. The second activity is an online cloud platform that helps startups and SMEs generate cash flow and track business growth with the aim of becoming the leading platform to help startups and SMEs grow.
What problem are you working on? What solution are you offering?
Building Blocks identified the following two problems separately and provided these two solutions separately, too.
The first problem identified is that of the high youth unemployment rate in Africa, and thus a need for more job creators rather than job seekers. Providing entrepreneurship education at a high school level is the solution, as it teaches skills and theories that are not currently included in the majority of education curriculums within the schooling systems.
The second problem identified is that, according to Forbes, more than 70% of startups fail in the early stages for various reasons. The solution for this is to provide a platform that can generate cash flow projections for startups and, in the future, provide all-around critical information for startups and SMEs to help them grow.
Was that your first idea or did you have to pivot?
Building Blocks has had to pivot previously, however, as part of EIA, I pitched the idea relating to the online cloud platform for SMEs. Even with this, the idea changed and we pivoted multiple times. The core problem didn’t change, but the “how” of the solution did.
What are you currently doing? What have you already achieved (apart from being EIA’s Top Team)?
I’m currently working with software engineers and an AI team to develop the platform (MVP) and applying for funding concurrently.
The most challenging thing about this idea is that the platform needs to be coded and created before it can be tested and brought to market other than in the form of a prototype. Funding is required for this, and early-stage funding has been challenging to acquire up to this point.
What are the next steps in the short-term? What about in the long term?
The next steps are to complete the MVP, launch in the market, and get as much feedback from users as we possibly can.
Our long term vision is to incorporate other products into the platform to create the leading one-stop-shop for startups and SMEs to help them grow.
What were the biggest challenges at EIA?
At EIA, the biggest challenge was having everything done in a short period of time—10 days, to be exact. It was especially difficult getting to speak to our customers, as we didn’t have time to set appointments, but needed their feedback for problem and customer validation.
Is there anything you’d like to add to the article?
Starting is always a good thing. No matter what happens after you start, taking the first step will always be the best decision you make. The worst that can happen is that you learn and move on knowing more than you did before.
Want to learn more about startup ideas from EIA? Check out these stories on our blog!
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