Ampion or Amplifying Pioneership, the firm that brought us Ampion Venture Bus and Ampion Fellowships in Africa has closed shop, and the founder says the firm will kind of remain active through its various social media groups on Facebook and WhatsApp.
In an update on his LinkedIn profile, Fabian-Carlos Guhl said, “I wanted to connect now to let you know that I have decided to explore some alternative career options which means I will not be continuing with the Ampion adventure. It has been a great journey and I wanted to thank every single one of you for your interest, support and participation.”
“You helped to make the project very successful and supported the mission to improve the life of people. I think it is crazy and rewarding to see how many life-journeys were impacted through our good intentions. The best way to stay in touch with the community is through the Facebook alumni, the Public Facebook Group and the different Whatsapp Groups. I would be thankful for any ideas on how the brand could be used for further good,” Guhl added.
Just a little history for starters. Ampion Venture Bus was like geeks on a plane but on a bus bringing together young entrepreneurs from country to country and working with them on a bus to build their ventures. The first of its kind trip was held in November 2013 and the firm brought together 41 entrepreneurs from 14 countries from Harare to Cape Town.
Through the bus adventures, various African tech ecosystems got to connect with the outside world. Some entrepreneurs got attend hackathons and pitch events and hundreds of entrepreneurs had a chance to build and launch their own innovations.
Sterio.me, a video edtech platform for connecting learners to tutors in Africa was one of the biggest startups to come out of the first Ampion Venture Bus. However, the Ampion bus model was hard. It was more of a hackathon on the road as it enabled ”like-minded young people from across Africa and the world to form partnerships and found startups” in seven days. Ampion’s work was to help the entrepreneurs discover different startup eco- systems, by visiting investors, technology hubs and corporate innovation centers.
Ampion provided the continued education, tools, funding and was a true catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation across 16 African countries and had planned to expand further. It’s unfortunate that the firm had to close.
Though Ampion’s demise is being announced in 2017, anyone would have seen that Ampion was in ICU as early as 2016. Most of its activities reduced. There were no noticeable startups coming out of the buses even though Ampion had a huge awareness impact.
Ampion is not in any way to blame for its closure. Hubs and incubators across Africa have pivoted into customer-focused co-working spaces and event lounges for corporate events. Startups across Africa have realized the need to have a customer for their products from day one.
“Whether it’s in a co-working space in the western world or a tech-hub in Nairobi, Lagos or Addis, creating a startup is a daunting task that more often than not leads to failure,”Fabian wrote. “Having founded startups in the past ourselves, and beginning Ampion as much of a dream as a plan, we know how difficult it is for entrepreneurs to find their way.”
Ampion might not have an existing startup today but it did teach somethings to some kids. That most startups are experiments. Secondly that Africa is not a homogeneous market and that startups in Africa need not copy Silicon Valley though they can learn from it.
“When we first ran the Ampion Venture Bus through Southern Africa, my personal goal was to prove that a startup generation concept, which originated in Silicon Valley, could work across Africa. Our team saw a very strong potential in the increased investment and entrepreneurial energy on the continent, facilitating the ability for startups to have a larger effect on a wider range of people,” wrote Fabian-Carlos in his earlier reports.
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