Mashauri – Bring your research or start-up Idea to life
The CEI Mashauri Venture is a customised programme, co-created by Mashauri and the University of the Western Cape to teach and support UWC entrepreneurs in launching and building their own businesses and to increase commercialisation of graduate research.
The Venture Accelerator Programme gives students the opportunity to develop, test and validate their business idea in the market. If the test is positive, they will be ready to take the next steps in building a business model and the first demonstrable product (called a minimum viable product) to customers.
Even if their initial idea proves not to be viable, they will have learned how to get going with starting a new business and have a tool-set and process to help them try out their next idea!
Encouraged by the success of the winter programme, a second venture accelerator programme was presented in September 2017. This version was aimed at encouraging postgraduate students to develop ventures based directly or indirectly on the research they were conducting at UWC. It was well-received by the students and faculties and some interesting ventures were launched, such as a nanotechnology-based water filtration system.
One of the key partners in the programme is Mashauri co-founder Apoorv Bamba who says, “Entrepreneurship practice is very important. Students will be sent out into the field to experience real situations while learning to network with like-minded entrepreneurs.”
Some of the postgraduate students were working full-time and could not always attend the on-site Lab Days. However, the students could call in and attend the sessions remotely via a laptop or smartphone.
By the end of the programme, the students had designed a product or service, analysed the market potential, developed a go-to-market proposition, tested the idea in the market and developed a pitch video. Support was offered by the UWC Technology Transfer Office in areas such as protection of intellectual property and patents.
The graduation ceremony was accompanied by the students pitching their ideas to an expert entrepreneurial panel in front of a live audience with various prizes awarded, including an internship at the Silicon Cape Network technology hub. The UWC winner later competed against other universities for the opportunity to attend the Start-Up Safari in India in January 2018.
After the programme, student participants said:
- “Great for knowing where you want to be and how to position yourself in the market; the drive, passion, patience and focus is of pivotal importance.”
- “Mashauri gives you all the necessary tools you need to be a successful entrepreneur.”
- “When I started this I thought entrepreneurial skills would be a good tool to have to become a better scientist and guide my journey as a scientist. But after the lab days and course work I would rather prefer my science background to be the tool I use to become a good entrepreneur.”
- “Fantastic introduction to entrepreneurship and thinking like an entrepreneur. Very good blend of online learning materials and physical contact session labs.”
- “The impact of the accelerator program goes deeper than skills. It shifts mindsets.”
- “Attitudes really are contagious. Simon’s go-getter, never quit, always persevere attitude with a good dose of positivity and challenge set this programme apart from the rest.”
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