Fox Bytes 9 – the blood and guts issue

The Game: Start up, knocked down

Investment in digital technology is a dangerous game; it is littered with the corpses of startups that stumbled into the ‘kill zone’.

For venture capitalists (VCs) who provide the seed funding for high-risk startup tech companies, taking risks is in their blood. The rewards when a startup strikes big are worth it; think Uber and Airbnb.

But even seasoned VCs are wary of anything that may be a threat or an opportunity for tech’s dominant players.

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, collectively called FAANGs, have both the muscle and mindset to crush or absorb any startup with an offering that either challenges one of their offerings or fills a gap in it. 

Either way, they will invariably take a shot at it. 

This will be by offering to buy the startup at a price high enough to be tempting, but low enough to put an end to the investment for the VC. 

Hence: ‘kill zone’. 

[Image: Vecteezy]


The Player: The Flying Fox

Foxes can have wings. Case in point: Dr Olamide Brown (Orekunrin). 

The British-Nigerian doctor is the founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd, West Africa’s first air ambulance service.  

Her approach to starting the company required rethinking the game, its rules, her scope, and who would be the players.

Dr Brown knew few Nigerians would ever be able to afford an air ambulance service, but some big business clients would. 

So, she approached oil companies and other large industries with operations offshore or in remote sites with poor access to major hospitals.

With their capital as leverage, and her contacts in medicine, Dr Brown leased some aircraft, and in 2012 a fledgeling Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd took the skies.

Today the company has 20 aircraft at its disposal and a team of 47 healthcare staff on hand. It covers much of West Africa and offers both air and ground ambulance services as well as infrastructural support such as healthcare training.

Flying foxes. Yep, they’re a thing.

[Image: TIME]


The Move: Cool heads for heroes

Rushing into a crisis is an invitation for disaster. Effective decision-making requires cool heads, accurate intelligence, and working through scenarios.

The successful rescue earlier this month of the 12 Thai boys and their football coach from flooded caves is a case in point.

Authorities considered two scenarios: 1) the boys – none of whom could swim – were provided with provisions to last them until they could walk out; and, 2) they were rescued immediately but through treacherous passages underwater.

Given it was only the start of the monsoon season, and therefore the risk of more flooding was high, the first scenario was deemed to have the greatest possibility of a negative outcome.

Based on that, the necessary operational components could be put into play, such as establishing the best route for support divers, identifying who should be rescued first, etc. 

Much of the successful rescue has been attributed to bravery, but the real hero was effective decision-making.

[Image: Freepik]


[These articles originally appeared in Issue 9 of Fox Bytes (you can view it here) in the week of 23 July 2018. Growing Foxes is a school strategic intelligence programme designed by mindofafox. It is being piloted in a number of leading schools in the UK and South Africa. Fox Bytes is published weekly to support those students currently engaging with the programme. Click on the logo to find out more]

Cover image: Freepik