8 startups admitted into the TUMI Startup Accelerator housed by C4D Lab at the University of Nairobi‘s School of Computing and Informatics today pitched to potential investors, partners and customers at Nairobi Serena hotel in a mid-term pitch fest organised by the Nairobi based mobility Accelerator and the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative(TUMI).

The over 50 people delegation comprised of industry players, investors, the academia, government and mobility startups from advanced ecosystems all united to match ideas & capital to enable better access for millions of individuals on the African continent.

Some of the delegates present during the TUMI Startups Mid-Term pitch Fest

Speaking during the event, Daniel Moser stated that the goal of putting the accelerator was to have startups accelerated to achieve sustainable urban mobility. He reiterated that the current cohort should pave way for Kenya when it comes to transformative urban mobility.

Mobility should be the center point for urban cities because mobility is the focal point of any city. This way, cities can continue to thrive and improve the life of their residents.
Above all women, children and people with reduced mobility are suffering daily under the urban mobility crisis in their cities; at the same time missing transport infrastructure and lacking public transport leads to cities falling back and not becoming machines of growth and forces of sustainable development. Emerging digital mobility companies can be important enablers for better transport. The TUMI StartUp Accelerator seeks to establish smart digital mobility as a fundamental element of sustainable development worldwide and the this first cohort is here to start the journey.


Want to build the best solution in the market? The solution is not in your office, it’s out there in the streets. So go interview your customer segment, ask them questions, and take those lessons!

Did you know there are 150 million startups in the world today? That’s not it all either, 50 million new startups launch every year!  On average, there are 137,000 startups emerging every day.

Nice numbers, right? But how many startups survive the violent waves of change that have completely transformed the very nature of today’s startups? How can a startup survive in such an environment? Let’s find out!

According to Robert Yawe a business mentor and adviser to startups in the TUMI Startup Accelerator , the critical resources for a startup are time, money, workforce, experience and insights. These resources are always limited and put pressure on the founders to optimize the efforts and approach.

A section of Startups Admitted into the TUMI Startup Accelerator

However, the Lean Canvas is an excellent tool, that if well understood and appropriately applied makes a big difference in appropriating the effort of a startup. So, what exactly does the Lean Canvas tool entail and mean to a startup?

The Lean Canvas consists of the following main components:

  1. Problem,
  2. Customer segments.
  3. Unique value proposition.
  4. Solution
  5. Channels
  6. Revenue streams.
  7. Cost structure.
  8. Key metrics and
  9. Unfair advantage.

Most startups  fail in the market because they start at the solution level without finding the problem they want to solve. Each customer segment (CS) you are thinking to work with will have a set of problems that they need solved. In this box try listing the one to three high priority problems that your CS has. Without a problem to solve, you don’t have a product/service to offer.

The problem and Customer Segments can be viewed as intrinsically connected — without a CS in mind you can’t think of their problems, and vice-versa. While addressing the issue, unique value proposition chips in as this is the promise of value to be delivered. A startup should major on these key stages before now coming to the fourth stage – the solution.

Finding a solution to the problem is the golden egg! You’re not going to get this right off the first bat — it’s OK, as that’s what Lean is all about. What you need to do is Get Out of The Building — a phrase coined by the godfather of Lean Startup, Steve Blanks. This means the solution is not in your office, it’s out there in the streets. So go interview your customer segment, ask them questions, and take those lessons. The Lean Startup is validated learning through a continual Build — Measure — Learn cycle.

Channels are ways for you to reach your CS. In the initial stages, it’s important not to think about scale but to focus on learning. With that in mind try to think which channels will give you enough access to your CS and at the same time give you enough learning. Channels can be email, social, CPC ads, blogs, articles, trade shows, radio & TV, webinars etc.

How you price your business will depend on the type of model it is, however, it’s quite common for startups to lower the cost of their product, even offer it for free to gain traction, however, this can pose a few problems. The key being it actually delays/avoids validation. Getting people to sign up for something for free is a lot different than asking them to pay. There is also the idea of perceived value.

On the cost structure, you should list all the operational costs for taking your business to the market. How much will it cost to build a landing page? What is your burn rate — your total monthly running costs? How much will it cost to interview your customer segment? How much do market research papers cost? etc. You can then use these costs and potential revenue streams to calculate a rough break-even point.

Every business, no matter what industry or size, will have some key metrics that are used to monitor performance. The best way to help with this is to visualize a funnel top down that flows from the large open top, through multiple stages to the narrow end. A good model to help with this is Dave McClure’s ARRRR (Pirate Metrics)

An unfair advantage is the most difficult to avoid. However,  trying to think about this as having an unfair advantage can help when it comes to seeking partners & investors. According to Jason Cohem, the only real competitive advantage is that which cannot be copied and cannot be bought. Unfair advantage can be insider information, a dream team, getting expert endorsements, existing customers etc. So rather than thinking about adding something like “commitment and passion” as an unfair advantage (because it is not), think about what you have that no one else can buy.


TUMI Startup Accelerator has announced a team of advisors to the mobility accelerator based at C4D Lab. The team of 8 including the Director of C4D Lab, Dr. Tonny Omwansa will give its expertise advice to the accelerator and the startups. The team comprises of well experienced experts ranging from mobility industry, innovators, sustainable infrastructure technology experts and policy developers.



Daniel Ernesto Moser is the Management Head of the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI). As such he is leading the strategic development and the planning of activities of the initiative. Daniel is an accomplished urban mobility and transport specialist with over 7 years of international experience. He has strong public and private sector experience and through his work has collaborated closely with non-governmental organisations and world leading research institutions. His special interests lies at the intersection of urban mobility, strategic infrastructure implementation and technology.


Maina is a transport expert with experience across Africa, where he has worked closely with government agencies, development partners and urban sector experts to tackle challenges of accessibility, sustainability and social exclusion in cities through policy reform,capacity building, infrastructure planning and implementation. He is currently a senior consultant at Atkins where he is part of the advisory team that helps clients to successfully deliver their big infrastructure and energy ambitions by combining deep business acumen with engineering expertise to provide seamless, end-to-end advisory services.
He has a deep interest in tech-innovations around mobility and their potential to foster equitable and sustainable cities.


Stefanie Holzwarth is working in the Urban Mobility Unit at UN-Habitat, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. She is involved in providing knowledge, advocacy, and technical assistance to National governments and local authorities in the development and implementation of sustainable urban mobility strategies. In her work, she supports broad consultation processes of stakeholders to develop mobility strategies that are adapted to local needs, avails international expertise and best practices, and is also involved in capacity building, training events or city-to-city exchanges. Previously, she has worked with GIZ in Urban Development Projects in Cairo, Egypt and Cape Town, South Africa. Disregarding of the bike-unfriendliness of many big cities around the globe that she lived in, Stefanie has discovered her enthusiasm for cycling. Not only for commuting-to-office purposes – but also by joining Critical Mass Events to create awareness of the cyclists’ rights to shared urban roads.


Constant Cap is a regular commentator on urban planning issues facing Nairobi and other African Cities through his blog African City Planner, through local dailies, international publications and on local media. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya he is passionate about the planning issues facing African Cities. He has a deep interest in sustainable and inclusive mobility, urban resilience and people driven urbanism. He is a Graduate Member of the Town and County Planners Association of Kenya. He has previously worked at the Strathmore University Advancement Office and as the Executive Director of Kilimani Project Foundation. Constant coordinates Naipolitans, a platform that brings together urban professionals and enthusiasts towards creating a better urban environment for all. He is currently an independent consultant working towards transforming the urban planning space in Kenya. His recent engagements have been through ‘Sauti ya Nairobi,’ a coalition that has been pushing for participation, accountability and transparency in the physical planning of the city. He is also conducting a research on the implementation of creative methodologies in sustainable and inclusive transport . He has a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.


Katie is an expert in sustainable infrastructure, technology, and strategy. She is currently a Director at Liquid Telecom, a pan-African digital infrastructure company.Most recently, Katie launched and led Apple’s Clean Energy Program, an ambitious program to transition Apple’s product manufacturing worldwide to renewable energy. Prior to Apple, Katie spent 4 years working in India for Acumen, a leading impact investment fund. She launched Acumen’s Energy Portfolio in India, investing in off-grid energy companies, and she currently sits on Acumen’s Advisory Council. Having spent six years living in Asia and Africa (India, China, Nepal, Uganda, Botswana), Katie has had a unique global viewpoint and a deep understanding of these markets. Katie received her MBA and an MS in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She is a TED fellow and World Economic Forum “Young Global Leader.”


Dr. Tonny K. Omwansa holds a PhD in Information Systems and is a faculty member at the School of Computing and Informatics, University of Nairobi. He is the co-author of the book “Money, Real Quick: Kenya’s Disruptive Mobile Money Innovation”.
Besides teaching, he coordinates the innovation activities at the University of Nairobi, including running startups accelerator (TUMI Startup Accelerator and an upcoming CISCO Edge Accelerator), overseeing the annual Nairobi Innovation Week, which he founded in 2015 and designing innovation courses. He is also the founding Director of the C4DLab, the innovation and incubation lab of the University of Nairobi.
Through Nairobi Innovation Week, over the last four years, Dr. Omwansa has mobilized over 50 local partners from private sector, government, development agencies and academia to enhance the local innovation ecosystem. The Nairobi Innovation Week was graced by the HE the President of the Republic of Kenya and has since then grown into a national pride with participation from several other countries.
As part of his focus on startup movement, Dr. Omwansa founded NIW.Startups in 2018 which pulls together hundreds of startups that compete and prepare to pitch at the close of the Nairobi Innovation Week. Other initiatives he has founded include the C4DLabUniversity of Nairobi Innovation FellowshipTUMI Startup Accelerator and is considered as one of the most prolific scholars at the University of Nairobi.
Dr. Omwansa has conducted extensive research and consulting work on ICT, Innovation, financial inclusion, mobile transactions and information systems in various countries resulting in numerous products, publications and reports. His research interests are in the design, adoption and impact of innovative low-cost appropriate technologies in developing countries and how private sector, through startups contribute towards solutions in challenging societies in the region.


Cezanne Maherali is the Head of Policy for Uber East Africa. In this role, Cezanne leads government relations and supporting cities to move towards smart mobility in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Until recently, she was also leading policy engagement for Nigeria and Ghana.
Cezanne has been with Uber since April 2016 and previously worked as an Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Company based out of Kenya and South Africa. Prior to that, Cezanne worked in the Transactions and Performance Improvement departments of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Kenya.
She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University in Canada and an MBA from INSEAD in France and Singapore. Cezanne is passionate about economic development and the ability of technology to deliver impact.


David is the General Manager East Africa and India Ocean Islands, Cisco. He is an experienced, result oriented business leader with over 15 years’ experience in IT and Telecom industry and has over the last decade engaged with local and global enterprises in both public and private sectors.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Nairobi and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the United States International University, David has led highly successful projects across the region that have transformed businesses and government operations. As a sales manager and territory leader, David has achieved a consistent, proven track record in delivering results and meeting sales targets.
David has a strong technology background, the understanding of business outcomes and aligning relevant solutions to solve business challenges and considers these as important elements of success. He is passionate about using technology to solve business problems, motivating and empowering teams to deliver results and engaging with customers and business partners to build relations that deliver mutual business.


Although sustainable transport is not represented by a standalone SDG in the 2030 Agenda, it is mainstreamed in a direct or indirect manner into many of the proposed SDGs, especially those related to food security, health, energy, infrastructure, cities and human settlements, and climate change.

Here is why transformative and sustainable urban mobility is essential to achieving most if not all Sustainable Development Goals! (SDGs)



Transport Relevant SDG Targets. (Courtesy SloCaT)



The 2030 Agenda states that sustainable transport systems, along with universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services, quality and resilient infrastructure, and other policies that increase productive capacities, would build strong economic foundations for all countries.

Transport contributes directly to five targets on road safety (Target 3.6); energy efficiency (Target 7.3); sustainable infrastructure (Target 9.1), urban access (Target 11.2), and fossil fuel subsidies (Target 12.c) emphasize that sustainable transport is not needed solely for its own sake, but rather is essential to facilitate the achievement of a wide variety of SDGs.

Transport also contributes indirectly to seven SDG targets on agricultural productivity (Target 2.3), air pollution (Target 3.9), access to safe drinking water (Target 6.1), sustainable cities (Target 11.6), reduction of food loss (Target 12.3), climate change adaptation (Target 13.1), and climate change mitigation (Target 13.2).

The Inter-agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs)has been tasked to develop a solid framework of indicators and statistical data to monitor progress, inform policy and ensure accountability of all stakeholders. Transport is directly related to five SDG indicators in the final list from the IAEG-SDGs.

Final Take:

Any startup, policy maker, development agency, government and all other stakeholders working towards sustainable urban mobility need to align themselves with SDG 3,7,9,11 and 12 which are fundamental and directly relate to achieving sustainable urban mobility. The Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) Startup Aceelerator is doing it are you?


Speaking during the TUMI Startup Accelerator pre- acceleration diagnostic assessment workshop, Robert Yawe alias ‘Coach Yawe’  who is a business mentor warned startups of getting into deals with investors.

Robert Yawe speaking to Startups at C4D Lab

“Startup founders should learn to say ‘No’ to investors at times otherwise you may end up being employees in your own businesses,” Said Yawe. He urged the founders and owners of the startups to always consult a legal officer before signing any agreement and be cautious of being the least shareholders in their own business.

This is not strange in the business world. A lot of startups have gone down surviving on the mercies of investors who came in to ‘support the startups’ only for the founders to realize later they almost sold their business. They now have to struggle to reclaim their companies by working as employees of their own businesses.

Marube Ogega who is a financial consultant asked the mobility startups to do a strong market research and have a great understanding of the market alongside leveraging on partnerships and affiliations especially by partnering with those in the mobility sector.

The startups were urged to delete the ideation stage in their minds and at least have customers. ‘Engaging at a concept stage is a challenge.’ Noted Marube.

Constant cap, a coach to the startups and an urban and regional planner who is greatly involved in transformative urban mobility engagements  asked the startups to align themselves with the SDGs and especially those relating to mobility and the environment.

The Director of  C4D Lab which houses the accelerator, Dr. Tonny Omwansa unveiled that the just renovated space at the incubation hub was due for launch. C4D Lab is based at the School of Computing and InformaticsUniversity of Nairobi in Chiromo campus.

The startups will undergo an incubation period of 5 months and pitch during the prestigious Nairobi Innovation Week in June where they will get exposed to potential partners and investors. The startups will also pitch to an international delegation in March where they are expected to entice and pool resources from the delegation including a team from GIZ.