Immerse insights:

  • Immerse co-founder and CEO Quinn Taber was thrilled by the opportunity to fly to several African countries to mentor talented startup founders.
  • Talent and excellence abound in the African tech scene, and opportunities for mentorship are highly sought out.
  • Entrepreneurship stands to have a big impact on Kenya, Rwanda, and Nigeria as technological developments progress at lightning speed.

Dream Trip

At the end of February, 2024, Immerse co-founder and CEO Quinn Taber flew to Africa for his dream trip - the opportunity to mentor startup founders who are changing the continent. 

The talent and credentials of these founders was impressive, driving home the truth of the saying that while talent is equally distributed around the world, opportunity is not. In Africa, Taber found there is plenty of tech talent, but there is not always enough opportunity for mentorship.

A selfie of Quinn Taber on a street in Kenya

Social impact has always been near and dear to Taber’s heart. Immerse’s vision statement is Cultivate Human Connection, and the company was born of this ethos. It’s not just something we say - it’s who we are. 

The idea for Immerse was sparked when Taber was working in a Syrian refugee camp and realized that using VR for language teaching could give learners everywhere in the world access to quality language education.

So when Taber heard about the opportunity to support the new generation of African startup founders by sharing what he’s learned on his own entrepreneurial journey, he jumped at the chance. Here’s what he learned from “these young leaders who are pioneering new sectors, creating thousands of jobs, and ushering a continent into financial inclusion” as he visited Kenya, Rwanda, and Nigeria. 

Highlights From Kenya

So much talent

The level of technical talent was on a par with Silicon Valley. There were engineers and product designers who had worked at Google or Meta and then had a vision for a startup. “They’re like this best-in-class founder group,” says Taber, and he’s honored to support them.

Selfie of Quinn Taber wearing a hard hat in an industrial setting

Strong desire for mentorship

Taber noted that Africa has the talent. Increasingly, it also has the regulatory frameworks for startups, and there’s been a surge in investment. But many of the founders said they’re like a first generation of tech entrepreneurs and showed a strong desire to learn from seasoned founders and seasoned VCs.

New friendships

Each founder showed infectious joy, authenticity, kindness, and a vision to change the continent that has the world’s highest growing population. The energy level in the startup ecosystem reminded Taber of what he’s read about the early days of Silicon Valley.

Selfie of Quinn Taber and a Kenyan startup founder

Highlights From Rwanda

A perfect location

Taber describes Rwanda as “an unparalleled case study in leadership and free markets.” Safe, clean, beautiful, and incredibly hospitable, it’s the perfect place to start a company.

A presenter speaking to an audience in a conference setting

Optimism and innovation

Rwanda has overcome a difficult past with optimism and unity and is now embracing tech innovation. Taber met with a group of Rwandans who attended prestigious American universities on free ride scholarships with the expectation they would return home and start businesses. They expressed a deep sense of responsibility to invest their time and talent in Rwanda.

Highlights From Nigeria

Problem = Opportunity

For Taber, the startup founders in Lagos embodied the energy of the city. They went to American Ivy League schools, founded their startups right out of school, and most got into Y Combinator, a top accelerator for startups. They told Quinn that each of the problems facing tech startups in Nigeria was really just an opportunity in disguise.

Quinn Taber and a Nigerian startup founder waving at the camera

Ingenuity in abundance

Founding a startup takes ingenuity, and Taber found it in abundance. One founder he spoke to had started a ride-hailing company in 2014 but soon realized would-be drivers couldn’t get loans to purchase vehicles. He persuaded a motorcycle-taxi manufacturer to finance them by figuring out a way to protect the investment - a win-win-win situation where the vehicle manufacturer beat sales targets, tens of thousands of drivers found sustainable employment, and investors made a big return.

The Importance of Social Impact

Taber has always believed in the importance of working towards the greater good, and he has seen firsthand the difference that one person can make by reaching out and cultivating connections with his fellow humans. It’s a vision he invites other founders to share by becoming part-time advisors to these talented founders or angel investing in these impactful startups in Africa.

“In this history-defining decade, I intend to stand with my African brothers and sisters as they build the ventures that employ a generation, leverage technology to leapfrog decades of industrialization, and lead with values that will forever redefine the economy here. I invite you to join me!”