Etienne Kouadio Doh is promoting investments and entrepreneurship in the tech sector in the Cote d’Ivoire.
What’s your story?
My Name is Etienne Kouadio Doh, Chief Operating Officer of VITIB, the 1st technology park in western Africa based at Grand-Bassam, the world heritage city of Cote d’Ivoire. The mission of VITIB is to promote investments and entrepreneurship in the technology sector in Cote d’Ivoire. I graduated from the top business school of Abidjan (ESCA) in 1999 and completed an executive programme in telecom management at TEMIC in Canada. Before joining VITIB, I worked for several national and multinational companies in the ICT sector from the assistant position to the top management. I live in Abidjan with my lovely family.
What is your involvement with Investment?
As the Chief Operating Officer of VITIB, my role is to promote the investments in the ICT & Biotechnology sectors in Cote d’Ivoire. VITIB hosts the incubation programme of the Ministry of Digital Economy of Cote d’Ivoire and we are developing separately an accelerating programme for start-ups on the VITIB ICT Park.
Personally, I have invested in some start-ups specializing in digital marketing, IASS and SAAS and I also empower some start-ups on management and marketing skills through a volunteering mentorship.
How did that come about?
I am passionate about marketing, ICT and entrepreneurship. I have spent almost 20 years of my professional life in marketing and ICT working with start-ups, SMEs and multinationals. I created my first start-up, AFRICPARTNERS in 2002 with the support of a business angel from Harvard Business School.
What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
I have learnt three important things about investing…
First, the investor should be passionate about where he is investing. Second, only actions will move your business idea forward into a business model, business plan and business results.
Third, clearly identify your clients who will pay for your services and products, understand your market and identify your competitors, your competitive advantages and your value added proposition.
What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Less experienced investors believe in bright ideas and expect quick returns on investment. They must first trust in people, in market feedback and in an efficient organisation. At the end of the day, they should be patient for their ROI. Sometimes they should be prepared to lose money!
What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Most entrepreneurs think that a bright idea = good business. It is not true! Only working hard to transform your idea into business actions will create value. Your best evidence of your business idea will be your first clients. So work hard to get your first clients! Your first clients will help you raise funds, get references and self-confidence.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Trust in yourself, feel from your guts, be confident and go!
What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
For those who are seeking funding, I advise them to be well prepared for what they are offering, understand the returns of the funding they are seeking, look at the market evidence of their business idea and work properly on their business plan before going to external investors.
Who inspires you?
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, one of the top brands of the world, due to his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. Bill Gates is one the pioneers of the 3rd industrial revolution and the pioneer of the popularization of the ICT to simplify our work and social life. I also admire Bill Gates for his vision, his perseverance, his humility to retire from his prestigious position of CEO of Microsoft and his courageous philanthropic nature, to give back to the society.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
By participating at the AFRICACOM 2017 focused on the technologies of the future, I have learnt that the five technology trends that will positively impact business and create the 4th industrial revolution are: advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, internet of things (IoT) and blockchain.
Businesses invested in those technologies should be the fastest growing business sectors in the next 5-10 years.
What business book do you recommend the most?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill who focused on the psychological barriers that had stopped most people from being successful. Napoleon Hill had identified 17 simple principles that I believe any investor could learn and practise to experience success.
Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
VITIB S.A is a government and private joint venture company in charge of promoting and managing the ICT and biotechnology free trade zone of Cote d’Ivoire.
One of VITIB missions is to develop a dynamic ecosystem for innovation, start-ups and SMEs and development driven by the latest technology.
VITIB as a Free Trade Zone offers some attractive tax and customs duties incentives to investors for an unlimited business period.
We are also developing an infrastructure programme to build the most attractive Smart City in the sub-region on almost 700 Ha of a prime land, 15min to the international airport of Abidjan and located between the sea and the lagoon.
How can people connect with you?
People can easily connect with me by email ([email protected]) or on social media.
This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org
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