We have created resources specifically to complement the advice from your mentors. 

Startup Diagnostic 

Once you are a part of XL Africa, we will guide you through an in-depth analysis of your startup's health. This will help you and your mentors identify and tackle critical issues in your business.

XL Africa Curriculum

We will teach you all you need to know about operating a startup and increasing your ability to attract investors. Each module includes an introductory video, a series of accompanying worksheets and a list of recommended additional reading. These modules are available to you at your convenience. 

Live Webinars 

Maximize your learning by speaking with some of the best entrepreneurs and investors from Africa, Europe and North America. Our bespoke live webinars will be interactive and informal.


XL Africa Academy

XL Africa includes nine intensive training modules, called XL Africa Academy, designed to complement mentorship. As with the entire XL Africa program, these modules are created to help companies looking to raise post-seed capital in order to scale. The advanced content is brief and action oriented: what are the most important things you need to focus on to accelerate funding, corporate partnerships and growth?

All modules will be available in video format that you can watch at any time, plus brief PDFs that include worksheets such as a due diligence checklist and a risk reduction framework. All modules conclude with specific questions to discuss with mentors.

XL Academy Instructor

Bob is a highly experienced investor, mentor and educator. He is the founder of crimson Seed CapitalLLC, which has a portfolio of over 24 companies. His mentoring work has included engagements with numerous startups as well as as larger enterprises including the Bank of America, Pepsi and Citigroup, and he is also an active mentor at Mass Challenge. In addition, Bob has served on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and is currentlyteaching at Babson College.

XL Academy Guest Speakers

XL Academy has partnered with experienced entrepreneurs and investors to give our entrepreneurs real world advice on what it takes to close significant funding, land a company-making corporate partnership, or scale a business from early traction to market leadership. Our prominent guest speakers will include investors and entrepreneurs who have scaled businesses and invested in successful companies in Africa.

Why Invest Your Time?

You Will…

  • Learn the subtleties of communicating with investors and navigating the challenging process of fundraising, from an experienced investor
  • Understand how to graduate from the Lean Canvas framework to scaling your business frameworks
  • Address the next set of questions and issues that follow completion of initial product delivery and early traction in your first market

With The Goals Of…

  • Focusing discussions with mentors on the most urgent issues and most advanced advice
  • Preparing for professional discussions with investors throughout the program but especially during the November 2017 residency
  • Accelerating progress towards success in the long and often frustrating processes of fundraising, corporate partnership and scaling
  • Building on your initial success and breaking out of the pack.

XL Africa Academy format

  • Instructor led video
  • Guest speaker video
  • Supplementary written content
  • Additional reading materials
  • Worksheets

Delivery Method

All modules will be available to you to learn at a time convenient to you. Mentors will recommend appropriate modules to help you achieve specific high priority goals, and then follow up to help translate the XL Africa module content into action items that accelerate progress towards fundraising, partnerships and growth.

Module 1 - Are You Ready? The Investment Readiness Framework

While companies often think they are ready to accept investment, this is often not the case. This module presents a framework for self-assessing investment readiness for African tech companies that explores all five meanings of the phrase “ready for equity investment”:

  1. Is equity the right type of financing for your company right now?
  2. Have you reached the top of Steve Blank’s Investor Readiness Level?
  3. Do you have Metrics Momentum?
  4. Are you ready for the 12-step financing process?
  5. Are investors ready for you?

Outcome: Companies will be able to self-assess their readiness for equity investment and in the process identify steps to increase it. Working with mentors, companies can then develop and execute a plan to accelerate readiness.

Module 2 - What Do You Mean, Risky? Investors’ Risk Reduction Framework

Start-ups’ optimism is essential, but can blind them to the risks that investors see in their businesses. This module presents a framework to help companies see their businesses in the risk reduction framework of investors, for example, understanding that investment “use of proceeds” should focus on reducing risk to increase company value.

Outcome: Companies will be able to understand better investors’ perceptions of the risks of their business and how to manage, mitigate or reduce them. Working with mentors, companies will develop a list of the top ten “common” startup risks and top ten “particular” company risks and plans to manage them, which will increase the likelihood of both company success and financing success.

Module 3 - African Investors’ Due Diligence Priorities and Practices

The due diligence process can be a time sink for both companies and investors, especially when it becomes an endless loop. This session will address the components of due diligence and those of particular interest to different African investors.

Outcome: Companies will be able to prepare better for investor due diligence as well as manage the process better, both of which will lead to stronger outcomes. A sample due diligence checklist can then be used to work with mentors on the highest priorities for accelerating the due diligence process.

Module 4 - Scaling Your Company

Just as “investor readiness” means different things to different people, “ready to scale” also has several meanings. This module takes a four-pronged approach:

  1. Have you achieved product/market fit and do you know about the 180-degree behavior change that follows?
  2. Is your team ready to scale?
  3. Do you know how to scale your business processes?
  4. Have you developed workarounds for the structural barriers to scalability?

Outcome: Companies will be able to self-assess which parts of their businesses need focus in order to prepare for scaling. Then, working with mentors, they can develop a plan to address the most pressing barriers to scalability that also represent barriers to fundraising.

Module 5 - The Promise and Perils of Corporate Partnerships

When the right corporate partnership can be formed with a start-up, it can lead to growth in markets otherwise inaccessible to a promising company. This session looks at best practices in corporate development through the six stages:

  1. Corporate development strategy formation
  2. Process preparation
  3. Inbound and outbound prospecting
  4. Courtship
  5. Making the deal
  6. After the deal

Outcome: Companies will be able to think strategically and realistically about both the prospects and the process for collaborating with corporations. Working with mentors they will develop plans to start or advance the process, in particular targeting corporations attending AfricaCom, which coincides with the first week of the XL Africa Residency.

Module 6 - Company Valuation

How much is your company worth to investors? This module will look at several of the methods used by investors, in both Africa and elsewhere, to value companies for equity investment. In particular this session focuses on why Silicon Valley valuations are higher than comparable companies anywhere else in the world.

Outcome: Companies will have a more realistic expectation of what an equity investment will mean in terms of their own ownership, both immediately post investment and over the life of the company. Realistic valuation expectations in turn increase the chances of fundraising success.

Module 7 - Options for Growth Investment Structuring

Within the range of equity and debt financing options are myriad structures, including convertible preferred shares, convertible notes, and revenue sharing debt as an equity alternative. This module will cover the convertible note controversy – why some prominent Series A investors don’t like them – and feature investors and others from the African ecosystem familiar with the investment structures of recent financings.

Outcome: Companies will gain a more in depth understanding of what types of growth financing structures are available and appropriate to them. Working with mentors, companies can make sure their fundraising ask is a match to what investors are seeking.

Module 8 - Understanding Term Sheets

Equity term sheets include terms that are often unfamiliar to start-ups, including anti-dilution protection, liquidation preferences, drag along rights and founder vesting schedules.  This module will highlight the most important lessons of the recommended text Venture Deals, and highlight what to expect in African equity term sheets. This book is recommended as the most entrepreneur-friendly discussion of an extremely complicated subject, including important recommendations about negotiation tactics.

Outcome: Companies will be better positioned to negotiate fair term sheets with equity investors, at lower legal costs and with less friction, to ensure the long-term relationship with investors gets off to a positive start.

Module 9 - Financial Models

Finding the right balance between optimism and realism is challenging when it comes to developing financial models to present to investors. This session will dig into some of the core issues including the types of financial ratios that investors examine and the sensitivity analysis they want to see.

Outcome: Companies will understand how to adjust their financial projections better to maximize their chances of attracting appropriate investment. The framework will enable more in depth discussions with mentors that in turn will lead to more investor-friendly financials.


Cover photo: Beyond Access, CC BY-SA 2.0