TEKXL transforms ideas into startups.

We take an idea, form a team around it to develop a product and create an autonomous startup based on the product.

IDEA › PRODUCT › STARTUP

TEKXL combines concepts of incubation, acceleration and venture investment. Over a period of 3 to 6 months, team members are provided with comprehensive technology, training, workspace and funding to turn ideas into startups with scalable business models. When startups reach maturity, they are managed by team members responsible for their development. Our goal is to provide competitive solutions for all markets.

Our model requires building solid teams including the right combinations of core people, skills and temperaments. We embrace that challenge because we have a program to identify, train and mentor young people. We pay team members competitive salaries and provide funding to cover operating and marketing expenses until startups are profitable. In addition, team members get equity that will vest over a period of four years provided they stay until maturation.

Senam Beheton (CEO)

Senam is a co-founder of TEKXL and a true renaissance man. With an education in law, political science, international development and instructional technology, Senam has a unique gift for proposing common sense solutions to positively transform communities, businesses and individuals. A serial entrepreneur, he has founded or invested in over 15 companies/organizations in the past 20 years, most of them in the technology sector. Senam believes in simplicity in design and process. His other interests include playing tennis, philanthropy, photography, traveling and planes.

Ulrich Sossou (CTO)

Ulrich is an experienced software engineer and entrepreneur with a passion for solving problems. He enjoys helping individuals and businesses frame difficult issues in ways that foster the emergence of the best outcomes for them and/or their businesses. His first experience with technology came at age 8 in his uncle’s computer repair shop where he played with early versions of personal computers. Since then, he has gained valuable experience in software engineering, architecture and design as well as marketing, sales and overall skill-set to run a software business.

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Femmes et Startups: Nécessité d’un Pipeline en Afrique

Il y a un problème

La faible représentation des femmes dans l’écosystème tech est bien documentée et incontestée. Les femmes représentent moins de 30% de la main-d’œuvre chez Google, Facebook, Twitter et Apple. Une base de données sur les femmes ingénieures en génie logiciel dans 84 entreprises tech créée et maintenue par Tracy Chou de Pinterest est révélatrice. Selon ces données, les femmes représentent seulement 15% de tous les ingénieurs. Ces statistiques révèlent qu’il y a 8% d’ingénieurs femmes à Yelp, 16% à Pinterest, et 0% à StackExchange (0/23). Selon une étude réalisée par MIT, les VC (capitaux risques) préfèrent les présentations de startups faites par des hommes séduisants (ce n’est pas une blague!), et les entreprises dirigées par des femmes reçoivent seulement 7% de tous les financements des VC.
En Afrique, la disponibilité de données est un problème, mais la situation n’est pas meilleure. Il y a des pionnières telles que Ory Okolloh MwangiJuliana RotichMarieme Jamme et les dames en vedette sur cette liste . Cependant, elles sont l’exception qui confirme la règle. Une étude Gartner a démontré que les femmes occupent seulement 11,2% du leadership tech en Afrique. Une observation de l’environnement suggère qu’il y a moins de 30 femmes ayant les compétences avancées pour développer des applications ou des solutions technologiques de classe mondiale dans la plupart des pays africains. Les startups en Afrique n’ont souvent pas de femmes co-fondatrices, programmeuses, ou conceptrices d’interface ou d’experience utilisateurs (UX/UI). La majeure partie de la représentation des femmes est dans le community management, la vente, le blog et paradoxalement dans le plaidoyer pour l’utilisation du web.

Les femmes sont indispensables

Des études démontrent que les choix des femmes affectent plus de 85% des décisions d’achats et comptent pour $ 4,3 billions du total de $ 5,9 billions des dépenses des consommateurs américains. Cela rend les femmes la plus grande force économique, non seulement aux États-Unis, mais dans le monde entier. Selon des données de l’OCDE , le taux d’activité économique des femmes africaines (qui mesure le pourcentage de personnes qui fournissent l’offre de travail pour la production de biens économiques) occupe le premier rang au monde (y compris les pays de l’OCDE) avec une valeur de 61,9.
Des sociétés telles que Facebook, Google, Apple ou Microsoft sont soit des réseaux sociaux ou soit les utilisent comme éléments fondamentaux de leurs modèles économiques. Il est pratiquement impossible pour une entreprise de prospérer de nos jours sans les médias sociaux. Eh bien, les femmes dominent les médias sociaux. Elles surpassent les hommes dans presque toutes les catégories. 76% de femmes adultes américaines contre 66% d’hommes utilisent Facebook. 30% de femmes contre 26% d’hommes vérifient leurs comptes médias sociaux plusieurs fois par jour. 53% de femmes contre 36% d’hommes sont susceptibles d’accéder aux offres des sociétés à travers les médias sociaux.
En Afrique, les femmes sont parmi les voix les plus dynamiques sur le web. Elles dirigent la conversation et sont à la pointe de l’émergence d’idées révolutionnaires. En plus de Ory Okolloh et Marieme Jamme, il y a d’autres influenceuses notables. Nnenna Nwakanma fait le plaidoyer pour les solutions libres et un Internet à la portée de tous. Rebecca Enonchong, l’une des africaines les plus suivies sur Twitter, a un background solide en tant qu’entrepreneuse tech avec un accent sur l’Afrique.
Les startups sont connues pour avoir un taux d’échec élevé. Le manque d’originalité est souvent cité comme un facteur contribuant à ce résultat. Les startups qui réussissent ne sont pas nécessairement celles qui ont les meilleurs programmeurs, mais plutôt celles avec les idées les plus révolutionnaires. Les femmes peuvent contribuer leur point de vue, leur expérience et leur créativité pour concevoir et fabriquer des produits que les gens voudront vraiment utiliser.
L’inclusion des femmes rend une équipe plus intelligente si l’équipe est prise comme une unité collective. Des études suggèrent que les équipes comprenant des femmes sont plus intelligentes. En fait, plus il y a de femmes dans une équipe, plus cette dernière est performante.
Les startups tech ont souvent du mal à trouver les talents qu’elles cherchent. Selon la Fondation Kauffman, le secteur des TIC est 48% plus susceptible que l’économie dans son ensemble à créer de nouvelles entreprises. Les emplois dans le secteur sont très bien rémunérés. Les développeurs gagnent en moyenne USD $ 89.000 par an et il importe peu où ils se trouvent géographiquement. Les femmes qualifiées peuvent profiter de la convenance et de la flexibilité de travailler à distance ou selon leurs propres horaires.

La construction du pipeline pour les startups en Afrique

Certains affirment que la réparation du pipeline permettrait de résoudre le problème de la faible représentation des femmes dans les TIC. En introduisant les jeunes filles à l’informatique, en leur montrant les possibilités qui existent dans le domaine, en leur apprenant à coder et en leur fournissant des modèles féminins, on réduirait le fossé et atteindrait la parité. Il est certes important de réparer le pipeline, mais c’est plus qu’un problème de pipeline. L’écosystème des startups est plein de sexisme, de harcèlement sexuel, de concurrence malsaine et bien d’autres maux qui dégoutent les femmes. Une étude de Harvard a révélé que plus de la moitié des femmes dans les entreprises tech abandonnent la filière à mi- carrière en raison de la culture de leur environnement de travail. Les événements récents, y compris gamergate et le procès contre Tinder tendent à confirmer que la culture du « brogrammer » est un réel problème.
En Afrique, l’écosystème des startups est encore à ses débuts. Bien que les femmes soient sous-représentées actuellement, il y a un manque général de compétences et de réussite sur le continent par rapport au reste du monde. Au Bénin par exemple, un sondage récent suggère la disponibilité de 15-20 femmes adéquatement formées par rapport à 30-45 programmeurs hommes aussi qualifiés. Il y a donc une possibilité d’agir avant que l’écart ne se creuse davantage.
Ceci commence avec une approche qui se focalise uniquement sur les femmes, en prenant en considération les causes profondes de leur sous-représentation.

  • Établir un environnement propice à l’apprentissage, au partage et à la collaboration.
  • Identifier et sélectionner des jeunes femmes très motivées pour un programme de formation intensive.
  • Aller au-delà de la tendance “apprendre à coder” et se concentrer sur le développement de compétences de pointe pour répondre à la demande de l’industrie et créer un avantage compétitif.
  • Adopter une approche d’apprentissage pour permettre de faire, de bidouiller et de construire tout en apprenant.
  • Offrir des possibilités d’interaction et de collaboration avec les intervenants extérieurs tels que les utilisateurs, des fournisseurs de services divers, les investisseurs et permettre des stages dans des entreprises ou des startups.
  • Fournir des mentors qualifiés et dédiés.

L’approche focalisée uniquement sur les femmes n’est pas nouvelle. Ada Developers Academy basée à Seattle est un programme de formation intensive d’un an pour les femmes qui font une transition vers le développement de logiciels. Le Hackbright Academy à San Francisco offre des bourses aux femmes pour 10 semaines de formation, niveaux débutant à ingénieur de logiciels.
Bien que ce soient de bons programmes, l’approche proposée va au-delà des compétences en programmation. Il faudra construire un pipeline robuste et durable qui fournira non seulement de bonnes programmeuses, mais aussi d’autres compétences pertinentes de haut niveau pour l’écosystème des startups. Les conceptrices d’interface et d’expérience utilisateurs, et les spécialistes Web Marketing / CRM sont aussi importantes pour faire de bons produits. Mettre l’accent sur la culture de l’entreprenariat sera également important pour le succès. Les participantes seront en mesure d’identifier comment leurs valeurs et leurs décisions peuvent faire ou défaire leurs startups.

Grand impact à court terme

Préparer adéquatement un petit nombre de femmes chaque année pour les startups en Afrique peut avoir un effet catalyseur sur l’ensemble de l’écosystème. A la fin de la première année, une cohorte de 25 jeunes femmes fera plus que doubler le nombre de talents actuellement disponibles dans la plupart des pays. En 3 ans, toutes choses considérées, le nombre de femmes peut égaler celui des hommes ayant des compétences similaires. Après cinq ans de formation, les femmes pourraient facilement dépasser les hommes pour ce qui est des programmeurs hautement qualifiés, des spécialistes du design, du marketing et d’autres compétences avancées nécessaires pour bâtir des startups réussies.
Une Afrique où la parité est facilement réalisée dans les équipes de startups, mieux, où les startups exclusivement féminines existent et prospèrent est possible. Je le sais car mon entreprise TEKXL utilise cette approche pour former des équipes mixtes avec des résultats exceptionnels.

Women and startups: Building the pipeline in Africa

There is a problem

The weak representation of women in tech jobs is well documented and uncontested. Women represent less than 30% of the workforce at Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. A data set on women software engineers at 84 technology companies created by Tracy Chou of Pinterest is eye-opening. Overall, women represent 15% of all software engineers. Some notable stats include 8% at Yelp, 16% at Pinterest, 0% at Stackexchange (0/23). According to a study by MIT, venture capital (VC) investors prefer startups pitched by attractive men (seriously), and women-led ventures have received only 7% of all venture funds.
In Africa, data availability is an issue but the situation isn’t better. There are trailblazers like Ory Okolloh Mwangi, Juliana Rotich, Marieme Jamme and the ladies featured on this list. However, they are the exception that proves the rule. A Gartner study showed that women occupy 11.2% of technology leadership in Africa. Empirical evidence suggests there are less than 30 women with the advanced skills to develop world-class applications or technology solutions in most African countries. Technology startups in Africa often have no women co-founders, coders, UX or UI designers. The bulk of the female representation is in community management, sales, blogging and paradoxically in technology advocacy.

Women matter

Studies show that women choices impact up to 85 percent of purchasing decisions and account for $4.3 trillion of the total U.S. consumer spending of $5.9 trillion. “This makes women the largest single economic force not just in the United States, but in the world”. According to OECD data, African “women’s economic activity rate, which measures the percentage of people who furnish the supply of labor for the production of economic goods, ranks highest compared to other regions of the world (including the OECD countries) with a value of 61.9”.
Companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple, or Microsoft are either social media networks or use them as fundamental components of their business model. It is virtually impossible for any company as a matter of fact to thrive these days without social media. Well, women rule social media. They outplay men in almost every category. 76% of U.S. adult women vs. 66% of men use Facebook. 30% of women vs. 26% of men check their social media accounts multiple times per day. 53% of women vs. 36% of men are likely to access deals for a particular brand or item through social media.
In Africa, women are among the most dynamic voices on the web. They drive the conversation and are at the forefront of the emergence of big ideas. In addition to the aforementioned Ory Okolloh and Marieme Jamme, there are some notable influencers. Nnenna Nwakanma has been an advocate for open source solutions and a more affordable Internet. Rebecca Enonchong, one of the most followed African on Twitter, has a strong record as a tech entrepreneur with a focus on Africa.

Technology startups and women in Africa: a perfect match

Technology startups are known to have a high rate of failure. Tunnel vision is often cited as a contributing factor for that outcome. Successful startups aren’t necessarily the best coded but rather the ones with the most disruptive ideas. Women can provide their perspective, life experience and creativity to design and make products people would really want to use.
Women inclusion makes a team more intelligent as a collective unit. Studies suggest that teams with women members are smarter. Actually, the more women on a team, the better it performs.
Tech startups often struggle to fill technical positions. According to the Kauffman Foundation, the ICT sector is 48% more likely than the economy as a whole to witness new business formation. These are high paying jobs. Developers make on average USD $89K per year and it doesn’t matter where they are located. Skilled women can enjoy the convenience and flexibility of working remotely or making their own schedules.

Building the pipeline for startups in Africa

Many argue that fixing the pipeline would solve the women in tech problem. By telling young women about computer science, showing them opportunities that lay ahead, teaching them how to code and providing them with female role models will increase numbers and lead to parity. Although it is important to fix the pipeline, it is more than a pipeline problem. The startup scene is replete with sexism, sexual harassment, unhealthy competition and other ills that turn women off. A Harvard study found that more than half of the women in the tech leave the field at mid­career due to the culture of their work environment. Recent events including gamergate and the Tinder lawsuit tend to confirm that “brogrammer” culture is a real issue.
In Africa, the startup ecosystem is still in its development stages. Although women are currently underrepresented, there is an overall knowledge and achievement gap on the continent when compared to the rest of the world. In Benin for example, empirical research suggests the availability of 15-20 adequately trained women programmers compared to 30-45 equally qualified men. There is an opportunity to act before the gap widens.
It starts with an all-women approach, taking into consideration the root causes of their underrepresentation.

  • Establish an environment conducive to learning, sharing and collaboration.
  • Identify and select highly motivated young women for an intensive training program.
  • Go beyond the “learn to code” fad and focus on the development of advanced skills to meet industry demand and to create a competitive advantage.
  • Adopt an apprenticeship approach to allow doing, making and building while learning.
  • Provide opportunities for interaction and collaboration with outside stakeholders such as users, third party service providers, venture capitalists, and internships with tech companies or startups.
  • Provide mentorship

The all-women approach is not new. Ada Developers Academy based in Seattle is a yearlong intensive training program for women transitioning into software development. The Hackbright Academy in San Francisco is an engineering fellowship for women offering 10 weeks of training from beginner to software engineer.
While these are great programs, the suggested approach goes beyond programming skills. It intends to build a sturdy and long lasting pipeline that will supply not just great programmers but other relevant high level skills for the startup ecosystem. UX, UI designers and Web Marketing/CRM specialists are equally important to make good products. Focusing on culture will also be important for success. Participants will be able to identify how values and decisions can make or break ventures.

High Impact in the short term

Adequately preparing a small number of women every year for tech startups in Africa can have a game-changing effect on the whole ecosystem. By the end of the first year, a cohort of 25 young women will more than double the estimated pool of currently available talents in most countries. Within 3 years, all things considered, the program can match the number of men with similar skills. On the program five year anniversary, women could easily surpass men when it comes highly qualified programmers, designers, marketers and other advanced skills needed to build successful technology startups.
An Africa where parity is easily achieved on startup teams or better where women-only startups exist and thrive is possible. I know this because my company TEKXL has used this approach to train mixed gender teams with outstanding results. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

Information Revolution in Africa – How We Can Quick-start It

The information revolution in Africa will be successful if we put in place the right technology development strategies. Small teams of entrepreneurs in their bedroom or co-working spaces can build products for millions of people across the World. They just need the right skills and investments.

The rise of the Internet and related information technologies is probably one of the greatest things that have ever happened to mankind. They brought unprecedented changes to our global society. We’re just getting started integrating these technologies and witnessing their impact on our everyday lives. No one can for sure predict the future especially since the pace of changes itself is accelerating. But we cannot fail to notice how this information revolution is important across the World. The information revolution in Africa is even more important as it brings new hopes to the continent.

The Information Revolution in Africa Brings Unseen Opportunities

In the global marketplace, organizations, companies and countries are competing in their ability to create, acquire and use new technologies. New rules, not those of the industrial era, drive the global economy. Africa has missed most of the benefits brought to the World by the industrial revolution. And we’re at risk of missing those of the information revolution. The african continent simply hasn’t kept the pace with technological advancements.

As the global marketplace becomes increasingly liberal and competitive, African countries can benefit. They can reduce their technological gap with the rest of the World and increase their growth rate. This information era is very different from the earlier industrial one. African entrepreneurs have many opportunities never available before.

As the Internet develops, the transfer of technology is easier. African entrepreneurs, builders and technologists can easily and quickly – almost in real-time – look at what their counterparts from other more developed continents are doing.

Technology, Education and Skills Development Is The Biggest Challenge

The Web has enabled anyone from anywhere to share their experiences and learn from others’. It’s a huge opportunity for African people as it offers ideal conditions to import technologies, upgrade existing ones and export what we create. We need to put in place effective technology development strategies that go beyond importing tools. We need to use these tools at their full efficiency.

  • We need to acquire and develop new technical skills and management techniques.
  • We need to create links and exchange ideas with other organizations across the World.
  • We need to adapt imported technologies to local conditions and practices.
  • We need to develop deep technical capabilities and a solid information base necessary to make the right choices.
  • We need to develop the ability to upgrade and improve acquired technologies.

This is only a subset of what we need to do to build world-class capabilities and master new technologies.

One of the often-cited issues hindering Africa development is infrastructure. In the industrial era, one needed a lot of infrastructure to run competitive world-class factories. They were complex and very expensive machines and other infrastructure elements like buildings, roads, seaports, etc. In the information era however, a small team of entrepreneurs in their bedroom can build and sell products to thousands, even millions of people. Companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, Dropbox, MongoDB and plenty of others have reached billion dollars valuations with only a handful of employees.

The infrastructure required to create a startup is mostly limited to computers and Internet access. And even if you need other things like hosting for the apps you build, collaboration tools, analytics, etc. they don’t cost millions of dollars. You still need an investment but it’s not that huge. You’re not building an industrial factory.

The biggest challenge for African entrepreneurs in this information era are technology, education and skills. They are the most important requirements to create successful products and companies today. That’s where we’re focusing our efforts and that’s how we’ll win the information revolution in Africa.

4 tips on startup mentors and why they are crucial for success

At a recent talk I gave on the “qualities of a successful startup CEO”, young entrepreneurs seeking help to improve their businesses peppered me with questions and requests. Unfortunately, some of these businesses had critical flaws related to market, leadership, location, culture, or the very nature of the product or service. For many of them, my input was simple but harsh: reformat, reboot, and restart.

These entrepreneurs are hard workers, driven and often adequately funded. One thing they were all missing was an experienced person, a professional in their field to give them valuable advice at every step of the process. They were missing a mentor.

  1. You need a mentor

A startup is a risky proposition. Even when you do EVERYTHING right, you are still more likely to fail than succeed. It is therefore important to have someone with experience help you identify and avoid the mistakes that will doom your product or business. A mentor can help you calibrate your ideas, hire wisely for your team, select adequate tools for product development, introduce you to the right people, give you advice on dos and don’ts. Preferably, you need to get a mentor prior to hiring your first team member. However, the right time is always now, if you don’t already have one.

  1. Select wisely

Beware of self-proclaimed professional mentors! I call them “startup mentors” not because they have startups, but because they are startups. You are trying to start a business; they are trying to start one as well. You have a product; you are their product. Also steer away from entrepreneurs with no records of enterprises. Do your homework. Look for someone with measurable success in building something similar or with proven skills you need. A great mentor could also be someone with a few years of experience but fresh knowledge of the process to share.

Once you’ve identified a potential match, someone able to help you, you must earn his or her respect. This doesn’t mean kissing ass, but it does mean expressing that you value their input and admire their experience and skills. Develop a relationship, impress them and let them see your potential. You don’t have to ask for a formal relationship, it will be most likely develop organically. Great mentors can spot people with real potential. She or he will get a kick out of helping you make it big.

  1. Ask the right questions

Both mentors and mentees must ask the right questions. Don’t expect mentors to guess what you need. Don’t just ask for help. Be specific. Be open. If you don’t trust your mentor enough to provide him or her with details on your idea or product, you should not bother. For example, ask about what qualities they looked for in their first employees, how they dealt with their co-founders, insights on market and culture etc. You should also expect your mentors to ask difficult questions. Recently, a mentee told me during a meeting that his company intended to add 1000 new users by Christmas. He basically had 15 days to reach that milestone. So I asked him how many users the company added last year. “About 100 users” he said. After a few more questions, it became evident to both of us that his goal was simply unrealistic. The exchange became a teachable moment on setting realistic goals to succeed.

  1. Make it worthwhile

What’s in it for the mentor? It depends. Some people simply want to help young entrepreneurs get it right. Others approach this as a business proposition. Make sure things are clear. If the relationship involves equity or the payment of fees, put it in writing. If your mentor is just trying to help, work hard, implement action plans to the best of your ability, provide frequent and detailed updates. Occasional small gifts are appropriate.

Generalist Designer (Cotonou)

TEKXL is looking for a Generalist Designer to join our team. As a GD, you will be proactive in influencing the user experience direction, as well as designing innovative solutions.

Responsibilities

  • Produce the design and branding of web and mobile applications
  • Collaborate with development and marketing teams to create unique interactive experiences
  • Complete projects within deadlines

Required Skills

  • Proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Ability to learn new skills quickly
  • Ability to work with/on teams
  • Attention to details and passion for perfection
  • Passion for creating products users love
  • Eye for design, colors, typography and layout
  • Knowledge of user experience, user interface and information architecture principles
  • Use of design to achieve specific goals
  • Mastery of design software like Illustrator, Photoshop and Sketch
  • Experience in web and mobile design
  • An attractive portfolio

Bonus

  • Knowledge of HTML and CSS
  • Experience in mobile and Web development

Click Here to Apply

Get in touch with us

If you have any questions about TEKXL or our startups, drop us a note.