Christopher Hosken completed his master’s in inclusive innovation at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Graduate School of Business (GSB). Through his business education, he learned that business models can be built more inclusively and can be leveraged as tools for social change. Making meaningful friendships helped Hosken grow networks that helped shift his mindset and ultimately led him to co-founding Startup School, a social innovation supported by Investec—a leading Specialist Bank and Asset Management Firm that aims to unlock entrepreneurial culture and potential in Africa.
By combining business management methods and experiences learned at the GSB with entrepreneurial practices, Startup School provides entrepreneurs with the necessary skills, knowledge, and support to shift their ideas into tangible business models. Startup School uses innovative technology and education practices to provide a holistic ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs. Hosken’s time at the UCT GSB was instrumental in shaping his thinking and doing. It also gave him the platform to develop and test his ideas in a practical manner and evolve Startup School into a sustainable venture.
Since its inception in 2016, Startup School has helped over 600 entrepreneurs and has provided around 1 million ZAR (about 69,000 USD) in prize funding to graduates. Beginning in 2020, Startup School will educate and support over 1,000 entrepreneurs per year and aims to have 5,000 alumni by the year 2024. At the end of 2019, Startup School set up a seed fund to allow the entrepreneurs in its system to access millions of rands of funding for their respective ventures. Startup School allows open access to its program and actively looks at ways to make its ecosystem more inclusive and accessible.
Startup School’s online education platform comprises 12 modules focused on educational material that is theoretically rigorous and practically relevant. The learning is continuously supported by dedicated business coaches who monitor the entrepreneurs’ progress via the learning management system as they progress through the learning material and activities. These business coaches provide detailed and actionable feedback on each weekly activity submission. Additionally, Startup School entrepreneurs are afforded the opportunity to be paired and supported by a growing network of mentors. These mentors are volunteer businesspeople who have a proven entrepreneurial record and experience in starting and growing a business.
Candidates in the program are guided from the ideation phase of their business through to completion, resulting in an investor presentation and comprehensive business plan. Upon successful completion of the course, Startup School graduates compete for prize funding to the value of 100,000 ZAR (about 6,900 USD).
Startup School has educated and inspired hundreds of entrepreneurs and has multiple cases of proven entrepreneurial success. Aadil Moola, CEO of biscuit manufacturing company Biscorp, is one example of an entrepreneur who has made a great success of his experience through Startup School. His story can be viewed online.