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Highlights

  • 01:10 - How to approach failure
  • 09:02 - The world's first ever touch-screen tablet that failed
  • 21:58 - The 3 kinds of risks a startup must evaluate
  • 29:06 - Africa's angel investment problem
  • 35:37 - How tech hubs can boost innovation in Africa

It's not often one gets to sit down with a person who has built as well as invested in some tech unicorns (a company with a $1 billion-plus valuation). It is also not often that such a person would be humble enough to admit their failures in business and celebrate them as lessons despite the temptation to paint themselves as a flawless hero.

Kamran Elahian is both these things and much more.

Kamran is also an innovator. One of his innovations, the Momenta tablet computer which was way ahead of its time in the 1980s, is also one of the great business lessons he shares in this podcast regarding what can go wrong in business and what risks tech startup founders need to look out for in their businesses. Momenta, although it started superbly, eventually failed as the market at the time was not ready for such an innovation, not to mention Kamran and his team having to build a lot of the technology components themselves at the time given how none of it existed at the time.

Kamran also shares his thoughts in this podcast in what he believes can be a solution to kickstarting innovation and the digital economy across Africa. He further explores the role that Africa's technology hubs can play working hand-in-hand with startups, investors, and governments.

He is currently an investor (one of his unicorn holdings is an early investment into SoundHound) as well as an advisor to many organizations, startups, and governments around the world.

Biography: Kamran Elahian

Kamran is an Iranian-American entrepreneur who is the chairman and co-founder of Global Catalyst Partners ($350 million under management) with an international multistage, technology-oriented venture capital firm.

GCP has invested in leading-edge technology companies (e.g. SoundHound) in the USA, China, Japan and Israel.

Kamran is also a philanthropist as well as an advisor to various governments around the world.

Podcast notes

Personal website: KamranElahian.com

Company: Momenta - a touch sensitive tablet (founded 1989)

Company: Global Catalyst Partners - Venture Capital company investing in tech startups.

Article: Kamran Elahian's startup Momenta was a huge flop -- but now he has 3 ventures on the fast track by SFGATE (1998)

Article: Why Silicon Valley Loves Failures by Inc.com (2012)

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