The first “Lions Den by blueMoon” was held at Addis Garage on 1st September 2017 in the presence of the Guest of Honor, H.E Dr. Getahun Mekuria, Minister of Science and Technology; H.E Dr. Mebrhatu Meles, State Minister of Industry for Agro processing and Pharmaceuticals; Ato Bekalu Zeleke, President of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia; Ato Yohannes Tilahun, CEO of the Ethiopian Tourism Agency, H.E. Ambassador Bengt van Loosdrecht from Royal Netherlands Embassy and H.E. Ambassador Philip Baker from Canada Embassy,where total amount of 7 million Birr was invested in the 4 Agri-Business Youth Led Companies by Daniel Gad,an entrepreneur and commercial farmer; Bethlehem Tilahun, businesswoman, founder and executive director of soleRebels and Garden of Coffee; Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner (Ethiopia) & Head of Transaction Advisory at EY and Addis Alemayehu, Managing Partner at 251 communication and Partner at Kana Tv.
blueMoon is Ethiopia’s first youth agribusiness incubator and seed funding investor. They aim to become a leading global player in discovering, supporting, and investing in exceptional innovative agribusiness and agri-tech ideas by youth between 15 and 29, with the potential to scale up and to transform Ethiopia.
‘blueMoon aims to be that fertile ground, where innovative ideas thrive.’
Lions Den by blueMoon is an exciting and dramatic way for the incubated startups to raise investment funding from the “Lions,” a group of 20 committed high-level agro-industry experts and CEOs that have been assembled and connected to the startups in a monthly Lions Lunch.
In the Den, a select number of Lions, up to 5, sit on a stage in front of a live audience. Turn by turn, each startup company makes a “pitch” to the Lions, describing their business, how much money they want to raise, and how much equity they will exchange in return.
Similar to the format of a talent show, following the startups’ pitch and demo of their product or service, each Lion will provide feedback to the startup team on the business model and/or the product. Each Lions will decide whether they are “in” or “out”. If they are “in,” they will negotiate the terms and amount of their investment. And, in turn, the startup team will decide whether to accept or decline the investment. All of this takes place within minutes.
Lions Den by Ethiopia aims to create a better understanding of the investment process and which have had a huge impact on young entrepreneurs aspiring to start businesses and on angel investors to consider making on-the-spot decisions on very early stage business ideas. Beyond the investment decisions and the funding that can be raised through Lions Den for the individual startups, the feedback and quick thinking demonstrated by highly experienced business people make these shows captivating and educational for a broad audience.
BY DR. ELENI Z. GABRE-MADHIN
Chief happiness officer, blueMoon
“Excellency Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Eng. Getahun Mekuria
Excellency State Minister of Industry, Dr. Mebrahtu Meles
Excellency Ambassador Bengt Van Loosprecht, Royal Netherlands Embassy
Excellency Ambassador Philip Baker, Canadian Embassy
My dear friend Yohannes Tilahun, CEO of the Ethiopian Tourism Agency, and formerly one of our private sector investment Lions,
My dear friend, Meaza Ashenafi, Chairperson of Ethiopia’s first Women’s bank, and a blueMoon Lion,
Esteemed entrepreneurs, friends, youth, and fellow dreamers-We are here today to begin the first steps towards a thriving youth- driven entrepreneurship culture and a supportive investment ecosystem.
At blueMoon, we believe in exceptional. We believe in the power of ideas and the fact that only those crazy enough to think they can change the world are indeed the only ones who do.
We set out last February to induct our first incubator batch, which we affectionately call #Begabatch17, after a rigorous nationwide selection in which we combed for talents throughout Ethiopia, doing road shows in 7 major universities, TVETs, and partnering with government and civil society.
In the five months that we have been working closely with the 4 companies who have made it through our intensive, four-month, rigorous program, much like a physical workout that does not stop, we have gotten to know these young men and women, and have come to admire them, respect them, and I dare say, even come to love them. They have shown us the best of Ethiopia.
Many of them were exceptional students who could have gone on to take jobs wherever they wanted or chosen to become the perennial “import-export” trader or in some cases quitting fancy jobs at multinationals or in some cases, they even chose to hold their university, all in pursuit of the arduous, difficult, path of entrepreneurship, facing huge resistance from their families, putting all the savings they had into their dream, spending full-time day in day out with us here for the past 7 months, watching some of their cohort dropping out because the going got rough. All this, because they believe in a better Ethiopia. An Ethiopia of ideas, of possibilities, of dreams dreamed big, and with hard work and sleepless nights, dreams that can come true.
Speaking of sleepless nights, this space which you are in tonight, the wonderful Addis Garage, has seen all of us, and I mean all of us without exception, spending quite a few nights here, and pizza and fun coffee breaks, over the last few weeks getting ready for today. So here we are.
These young startup teams have actively taken what was just an interesting idea through a rigorous analytical process to refine their ideas, talk to suppliers and future customers, do market research, create a prototype, develop business plans, develop branding and web presence, undertake financial analysis, and they are now ready to commence execution. They have formulated their plans and outlined their investment needs. They are here today to share their vision and invite you to join them. All of our four incubated startup teams have established share companies, because they plan to start with big company thinking from the get go, and have each issued shares to fund the next phase of their projects which they have made available to our esteemed Lions and in fact, to all of you here, and even the wider Ethiopian public, starting today.
In the ensuing presentations, our Lions will discuss the projects presented to them and decide on the amount that they are willing to invest in each. Remaining shares will then be offered to members of the audience here this evening. As we conclude the evening, we will give you all the opportunity to participate in investing in these companies if their dreams speak to you.
blueMoon has not just been an incubator but the first investor. Our support goes considerably beyond the amounts we have directly invested in each company to the funds we have invested to create this incredible eco-system, the space, the coaching team, the mentors, the training program, the co-working community, legal, branding, and financial support services, access to lots of government offices and technical experts. We are grateful to the MasterCard Foundation and the Dutch Embassy for boosting our private investment in the incubation effort with their grant support.
Today I am happy to affirm that we believe in the aspirations presented here and have already invested in each of these companies. I take this opportunity to thank my partner, Shem Asfaw, who is a gem of a human being, as well as the wonderful team who makes all this happen.
So we invite you to join us tonight in witnessing a new chapter, in an Ethiopia that celebrates big aspirations, to create the next Uber, the next mPesa, the next Weibo, the next Cargill, right here.
The Rules of the Den are that each of the startups will give a 10 minute pitch to the Lions, following which the Lions will engage in discussion and ultimately decide whether they are in or out, and for what amount they would buy shares offered by the startups. They would declare whether they are “in” or “out” and if they are “in,” they would negotiate on the value of the shares they wish to buy. And the startups would have the right to accept or reject their offer.
By having a televised program to capture all of this, much in the vein, though not quite a replica, of top-rated TV programs like Shark Tank and Dragons Den, we hope to influence Ethiopian culture in two ways: first by encouraging young entrepreneurs to aim high and fight and work hard for what they want to achieve, and second, by encouraging individuals who can to take risk and invest in what is just an idea that could go any direction, and for that I deeply thank these wonderful people, the Lions, people whom I deeply admire and whose friendship I value, who have taken us the first step in this direction.
But before all that begins, it is my great honor and incredible privilege to introduce our Guest of Honor, a man I only met in person some days ago, but who I know will become a very very dear friend, someone I consider visionary, and who quite literally rocked my world when he gave his electrifying address to the youth on the Youth Innovation Forum held earlier at the UN this week. I could also tell you about his amazing Ministry of Science and Technology, where even his office looks like a spaceship, but time does not permit. So without further ado, I would thus invite H.E. Dr. Eng. Getahun Mekuria to address us today.”
The startups are as listed below;
- Nature4Nature: A company manufacturing natural fertilizer.
- GebeyaNet: An IT company electronically trading fresh produce integrated with transport logistics.
- Efoyta: A company manufacturing firewood-replacing energy pellets.
- NU: An IT company electronically linking secondary and primary livestock markets to end buyers.
By Ethiopis Tadess