Entrepreneurs from around the world should go to Silicon Valley to learn “how to do it best”, according to Fadi Bishara, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Blackbox.
The Silicon Valley-based Blackbox accelerator runs its Blackbox Connect programme for international startups four to five times a year. Entrepreneurs are selected from across the world for an immersive two-week programme in Silicon Valley involving meetings and workshops with entrepreneurs, investors, experts and executives.
In an interview with Disrupt Africa, Bishara said with 50 years of tech entrepreneurship behind it, Silicon Valley has the most developed startup ecosystem in the world, and global entrepreneurs should visit to share in the resources and networks available, as well as learn “how to do it best”.
“The concept behind Blackbox is to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs around the world by giving them access to knowledge and resources of SV. We believe in one entrepreneurial ecosystem, one global marketplace and born global startups,” Bishara told Disrupt Africa.
“[It’s beneficial for global startups to visit Silicon Valley] to learn how to do it best, establish investment and distribution partnerships,” he said.
“The game of innovation and entrepreneurship (especially in technology) has been played and perfected for more than five decades here in SV. A countless number of the biggest tech giants started and continue to grow in SV. Here is the most developed and matured ecosystem.”
While Bishara believes skills learnt on the Silicon Valley programme can be transferred to “home” markets, he concedes some challenges will face startups on their return.
“To a large extent the skills are transferrable. However, cultural and policy issues in different region are the biggest challenges,” Bishara said.
Considering African startups in specific, Bishara said it is impossible to “lump all African startups in one category”; however, he says there are characteristic challenges which all startups outside Silicon Valley will face.
“Most regions outside of SV suffer similar challenges related to lack of success stories/role models, funding sources (angels and VCs) and varying policy and cultural limitations,” he said.
Nonetheless, Bishara says entrepreneurs are Africa’s “heroes”, working hard for a better quality of life and searching for effective solutions to local problems.
“Entrepreneurs in Africa] are the heroes who advocate for improving quality of life and creating efficient solutions for social and business problems,” Bishara said.
“They must have the long view with a focus on value first then money, learn from every possible example in regards to their industry and market focus, and adopt innovative features and approaches that fit in the culture and norms of their regions,” he said.
“They are the role models for next generation entrepreneurs to follow.”