How impactful was the blackbox connect program to Numida Tech and BVKit

Blackbox Connect is a two-week, residential program designed to immerse international startup founders in the Silicon Valley culture. As part of the Google for Entrepreneurs network, we recommend tech startups based in Uganda for the program each year. In 2016, two Ugandan startups, Numida Tech and BVKit made it for the program out of a record 105 startups that were nominated globally. This was unprecedented.

For the last four years, Outbox has been referring tech startups within its community to the BlackBox Connect program. 2016 was a special, Uganda was one of the countries to have two startups participating in the program. This was very unprecedented. Numida tech was one of the startups in the program. Numida Technologies is a fintech company working to unlock financing for the 22 million African small businesses that need it. TrackApp, their simple record-keeping mobile app, allows businesses to build financial track records that enable them to make better business decisions and prove their creditworthiness to potential lenders.

The other startups was Her Health BVKit. Her Health’s product, BVKit, is a self diagnosis kit that enables women to monitor their reproductive health at home and advises them to see a doctor when they are sick. For now, women can test for Bacterial vaginosis.

Recently, we had the startups share their blackbox experience with us.

Margaret from Her Health BVKit on her experience:

Margaret Nanyombi exhibiting the BVKit at the Women Deliver conference

WHAT DID YOU SET OUT TO ACHIEVE IN THE PROGRAM?

With the idea in mind that it was a founder’s program, I set out to Blackbox Connect to find out how I can scale the BVKit on a globally, to be able to empower more women around the world to take their health into their own hands.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR BLACKBOX COMMUNITY?

I learnt that before I prepare to scale I have to consider providing value to my customers above all.

After the BBConnect experience I believe I have not only got more value to my life but also become a better leader! With exposure to different founders I learnt that the culture and goals of the company should be the important things when building start up teams. As leaders in our companies we should not let our personal goals interfere with the company goals.

I learnt to communicate effectively and be a better leader in all sectors which will in turn help me have more impact and influence on not only the people I lead but also other leaders.

I also learnt that that not all projects have to look for investors to be able to be put their products on the market, but we can work with different women initiatives to be able to reach as many women as possible around the world.

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS?

Initially my team has been focused on only product development only but going forward we will continue with the product development and prototyping along with reproductive health awareness or talks until we put the product on the market.

I will organize lightening talks and sessions for the different founders in the work spaces I usually sit to share with them what I learnt over the 2 weeks period. I will keep in touch with different founders I met during the program to use their expertise in all areas of our works in the BVKit implementation.

Thank you for the supporting us with this opportunity.

Mina Shahid from Numida Tech had the following to share on their experience in Silicon Valley:

Mina Shahid and Catherine Denis — cofounders at Numida Tech.

WHAT DID YOU SET OUT TO ACHIEVE IN THE PROGRAM?

Numida’s primary goal in attending Blackbox Connect was to connect with the tech ecosystem in San Francisco — specifically prospective mentors, advisors, investors and other entrepreneurs. It was important for us to see what is going on on this part of the world and how our work in Kampala is related. Furthermore, a big goal for us was to learn from other successful tech entrepreneurs.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR BLACKBOX COMMUNITY?

The time with the Blackbox community was incredible. We have lasting relationships with the other entrepreneurs and with the Blackbox support team. Since the ventures at Blackbox were all at different stages in their development it was great to see how Numida compared and learn about how best to grow our business. The perspectives on our business model from the other participating entrepreneurs was very helpful. Throughout the time in San Francisco we were able to set up meetings with a variety of mentors/advisors who have provided some great feedback on what we’re doing. One of these advisors was the founder of the personal finance app, Mint which is directly related to what we’re doing in Uganda. A big learning from several of the sessions was related to the importance of building the right team early on and we are acting on this new awareness now to ensure that we have the best 3–5 early employees to take Numida forward.

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS?

One of the big take aways from Blackbox was the importance of nurturing great organizational culture in your startup. This is super relevant to Numida right now, and we are thinking really hard about this starting with a Numida retreat this weekend. At blackbox we leaned about the importance of ensuring that there is a fully trusting relationship between the founders and we are working hard to set the founder contract to continue to build that relationship.

Previous Ugandan Startups in the program include:

Fezah: A mobile application that enables you to book your favorite DJ, Band or Musician

Instahealth: a mobile application that enables anybody with a phone (feature phone or smartphone) to have access to health information instantly. Through the use of geo location and an Interactive Voice response system, they connect users to health centers, specialists, ambulances and consultation services.

The Medical Concierge group: an innovative health care service delivery company that significantly improves health outcomes and sets the benchmark of accessibility, client engagement and affordability of quality health care.

Are you interested in participating in the Blackbox connect program? Please join the Outbox startup community by reaching out to us.

More about BlackBox Connect

Selection criteria:

● Startup must have launched product and received customer or user feedback

● Participating founder is an original founding member of the company

● Participating founder must be proficient in English

● Preferably startup has raised money in funding and generates revenue.

Program Overview:

● Business code and culture of Silicon Valley — Fundraising in Silicon Valley

● Success stories by founders

● Talks by recognized and active angel investors & venture capitalists

● Pitch training

● Legal and banking aspects in the US for international companies

● Office hours with domain specific mentors tailored for startup needs

● How to get PR in the US for international startups

● Startup Showcase: pitching to investors and an audience of Silicon Valley game changers

Looking forward to seeing more startups from Uganda participate in the BlackBox Connect program