As Hypercube Hub Closes , Here are the lessons Learned

Hypercube Hub one of the first ever tech innovation hub to be unveiled in Zimbabwe breathed its last just before the year closed down and they have been many questions than answers surrounding the matter especially because there was fair amount of investment put towards the idea.

By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito

Their story came into existence when  Indigo Trust worked closely with Hivos and the US Embassy in Zimbabwe in order to identify a team which was able to develop a financially sustainable, socially responsible and sufficiently inclusive business plan. This process was done, and after six strong proposals the Hypercube Hub  team was selected.

The original co-founders of Hypercube hub were Nikki Kershaw, Nigel Mugamu, Rinesh Desai, Munya Chiura, Taps Murove and Irene Chikumbo.
Watch their video interview here, which we did in the their early days of launching.

While giving oral evidence  during a US embassy food for thought session under  the #lessonLearned program, the Hypercube hub founders, Nikki Kershaw, Rinesh Desai and  Munya Chiura  revealed that they had to close the doors because it was no longer financially viable for them to continue operations.

Rinesh Disai delved in their struggle and experience they went through to convince their various associates to reduce prices especially on the uptown house, security and other services.

He went on to explain on how they had to reduce on other benefits including salaries , probably a reason which led to other  two or three of the founders calling it quits, at least he guessed.

When Hypercube Hub was launched, it had these 6 founding members which were more or less the guys we already knew for doing one thing or the other pretty well before the Hypercube story went live.

Taps Murove and Irene were confirmed to have left Hypercube more than 6 months ago amid serious differences with the other founding members and went full time to do their own thing, while Irene started almost the same thing, a sign that she wanted fresh space to do what she knows best, well that’s just a sentiment.

According to the Hypercube team they had to shutdown because it was becoming financially inviable for them to continue running as the revenues against the income were no longer sustainable.

Questions were thrown around on how they were making it sustainable and what revenues they had managed to create to make it happen.

Rinesh Disai said, “Hypercube was a trust, we did not intend to make profit, even if we do not receive donor funding in the future we had to find ways to then generate revenue, since we were fully funded and not worried about membership fees.”

hypercube founders give testimonial on closure at us embassy

Hypercube Hub co founders give testimonial on their closure of operation during US embassy facilitated session.

Nikki added her voice saying, “There wasn’t enough money for us to keep going, it was a matter of incoming against out going, Munya  Chiura said its all about the numbers, the income versus expenses was not balancing up so we  had to make the decision to stop operations.”

We negotiated with service providers and our landlord, though the landlord initially resisted, we managed to get a 30% discount, cut salaries and other monthly costs, probably the reason why we ended up having part of the management leaving.

Their rented apartment was also another subject of discussion. How much was it to rent the place? As they rightfully said, it costed them $10 000 on monthly overheads, who knows even more. But what does this mean to the next hubs and promising startups?

A few good takeaways were on the issue of committed team members, nothing beats that, if you need to start your own enterprise know your partners pretty well, do not get into marriages of convenience but  partner with same vision.

One word I liked from Munya was when he answered the question on the future of them and hypercube, he said he was passionate about the project, he loved what he did. This is one area that I have advocated for a million times, do not chase the money but the passion, with the right passion you can get any money sooner or later it still does not matter.

Maybe my personal advice to the startups, at times you are safer and happier without funding, especially if you are not clear about your project`s vision and you don’t have the right passion. Don’t do it, you can’t wake up a successful millionaire because you got funding to a wrong project or a solution that you know won’t solve any problem.

So in brief this was their story, at least what they told, but how much did they receive in total, it was an initial $177 000 that we made screaming headline about, they also received other installments till the Hivos trust made it out they will be seriously downsizing investments and hence stop funding the Zimbabwean hub.

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