#ALNV2015 meets Thomson Reuters: Much more than media & journalism (guest post by Tiffany Tong of Nikweli)

The #ALNV2015 entrepreneurs had a very eye-opening morning with ALN partner Thomson Reuters (TR) learning about the power of their information database and platform. We listened to four presentations from Ms. Sneha Shah (introduction to the vision of Thomson Reuters), Ms. Maureen McGuinness (risk management), Mr. Thabo Pitsi (IP and patents), and Mr. Grant Molyneaux (Eikon – a platform combining data to research about economies). 

There were three main takeaways for me. 

1. The power of a grand vision

I had always only known about TR in the context of news reporting. Upon learning that there were so many products offered by this multinational company, I was quite perplexed as to what linked all the products together. It wasn’t until Sneha introduced the vision of Thomson Reuters – to empower the economies of Africa, especially with data – that it all made sense. She also showed us the video of the “Why, How, What” way of communication by Simon Sinek. It really hit home that the reason TR is able to develop, manage, and sell so many different products is because it set the right vision first. Not the other way around.

2.  The power of knowing about risk and IP early on in our startup paths

The presentations about risk management and IP/patents gave us an introductory caution about how to move forward with our companies. For example, if we accept investment, the burden is on us to verify whether that money is being “washed”. The easiest way would be to approach our banks to ask them to check on their database (which most likely comes from TR) for the record on the investor. If we don’t do our due diligence, we would be on the wrong side of the law. 

Similarly, with IPs and patents, we need to remember that our IP includes trademarks, brand management, and databases. We would also need to keep track of patent trading in competitors to stay ahead of the game. As an entrepreneur, it is so easy to get caught up trying to make the day to day work in our companies that we forget to look at the big picture and set it up right from the beginning. This day was a very good reminder. 

3. The power of having access to data

The TR team also briefly presented one of their data platforms called Eikon. This platform blew me away with the amount, accuracy, and ease of visualization of its data. You can easily click into various parts of the Tanzanian economy, for example, and generate instant reports to keep abreast with your industry. Having access to such data would be tremendously helpful in predicting growth in our sectors, keeping track of news and regulations that come out, and finding data to support the positioning of our companies in our countries and sectors. 

It really was an intense day filled with lots to think about!

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