Originally published on the MEST Africa Blog.
Starting in January this year, Ashwin Ravichandran resumes his new role as the new MEST Accra-Incubator General Manager. Ashwin joined the MEST team in July 2015 as a Technology Teaching Fellow niched in design, scale/strategy and innovative technologies.
Fast-forward to 2017, and he joins the MEST management team as the Accra Incubator General Manager. In this role, he will oversee incubator operations and strategy, startup support and growth, stakeholder engagement, business development and new partnerships for the incubated companies.
His responsibilities are two-fold – helping the incubated companies build and scale; and expanding the incubator and its presence in the local ecosystem.
I sat down with Ashwin on his first day as the General Manager, and in between meetings, got him to answer the questions below. I hope you get to know and love him as much as we do.
Please join us in welcoming Ashwin Ravichandran to MEST again!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your interest / experience in the African tech space
-> My name is Ashwin Ravichandran and I am from India. I have been working with startups since I graduated with a Computer Science degree in 2011. I have worked with startups in the recruitment, lifestyle, education and data + social impact sectors. I would be lying if I said I have only worked in the tech vertical of these startups. I have worked in almost every vertical in the company because every single member of the team counts and your skills can be utilized in every way. My favorite being user experience/user interfaces and customer journeys.
I fell in love with the African Tech space when I joined MEST in 2015. It showed me the true scope and potential of the space here. The challenges faced by this continent are many and each solution is extremely disruptive. I like the simple fact that technology can be involved in every step in this solution. Be it in the financial, lifestyle or social sector, technology is going to be the backbone.
What attracted you to MEST in the first place?
-> I got attracted to MEST by the unique training model and the aftercare for the companies being formed after the training programme. To provide such holistic support really intrigued me as it fits into my goal of running a school someday. The faculty, the colleagues and the companies in the portfolio is what drew me to Ghana.
What will be your first key initiative as the Accra GM?-> I think the key initiative for any incubator GM is to make sure that the companies operate as seamlessly as possible. Speaking to each company and making sure that they have as many resources allocated to them. Besides that, just making sure that the roof doesn’t cave in 😉
What challenges are you most excited about?-> So many. So many. How do I even start? Designing optimal interfaces for their customers – Using good practises for writing code – Go to market strategies – Growth hacking – Funding – Incubator partnerships – Growing the developer network for MEST – Doing collaborative events with other organizations – Hiring the right talent for the talent – How do I even stop? 🙂
One advice for aspiring African tech/design entrepreneurs-> Remember who your user is. Never ever forget that. Empathy is the biggest factor whether you make it big or not. The more you understand your user, the better your product/service and better the scale.