Play #5: Get to ‘Yes, If’ from Future Investors

When you want to make sure what you are doing maximises your chance of future investment (from commercial investors or donors), talk to as many of them as possible, as early as possible.

Asad Rahman
Feb 11 · 3 min read

The Pilot: Electric Motos in Rwanda

If electric motorcycles are successfully taken up by the Rwandan moto taxi market, they will decrease costs for customers, improve livelihoods for drivers, and reduce emissions.

Use this play to answer our challenge around post-pilot sustainability: when the tech use case is not sustainable post pilot stage, either through donor funding, private investment, government take up or commercial revenue.

This play is part of our Frontier Technology Playbook: Plays by DfID Pioneers to Overcome Development Challenges. Click here to read the other plays and an introduction to the Playbook.

The Pioneers: Ampersand

Having found product-market fit by workshopping customers and letting them try prototype bikes, we now faced an altogether different dilemma: how might we make the most of our remaining pilot funds to secure further investment?

We spoke to 5 donors/investors active in cleantech and Rwanda, asking what it would take for them to invest in us. We pushed for metrics and clear answers: for example, when they said ‘bikes on the road’, we asked ‘how many’? We looked at which themes came up time and again to help guide us on what to focus on.

Stepping back and considering what it would take to get others to help us scale was vital in guiding the way we spent our time and money. These insights shifted our focus to getting 20–30 bikes on the road and to aim for recurring revenues. This led us to shift our focus from getting lots of bikes out there (high CAPEX) to charging stations to sell our batteries (lower CAPEX, more recurring income).

The Practice

  1. Don’t let fear of rejection hold you back. We found investors and donors to be generous with their time and feedback
  2. Always ask for a follow up: another meeting, an introduction, or so on. These are all possible signals and the advice is really valuable!
  3. Speak with a range of investors if possible. We spoke with both early stage and late stage investors to get a range of perspectives

Get in touch…

Want to find out more? Drop info@ampersand.solar a line.

Frontier Technologies Hub

Working with the UK Dept. for International Development to apply frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.

Asad Rahman

Written by

Applying tech and innovation to international development with UKAid. Follow us here: https://medium.com/frontier-technology-livestreaming

Frontier Technologies Hub

Working with the UK Dept. for International Development to apply frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.

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