Isioma Utomi

Run a more data driven and customer-centric business

What does it take to be a tech entrepreneur in Nigeria?

I’ve attended a number of pitch competitions over the years and a few times I’ve had the privilege of being part of the team that makes it happen. A few weeks ago, I helped the ever-industrious team at Generation Enterprise organize a pitch competition called the 1776 Challenge Cup Lagos. Three finalists emerged to go on to the regional competition in Nairobi. So what made them so different from the rest of the competition? Obviously, they received high marks when scored against the metrics most valued by the judges.

This made me reflect on what makes some startups more successful in general. Startups tend to have a pretty high failure rate – some sources state as much as 90% of startups will fail. Aside from the core value proposition of the products on offer and a sustainable revenue model, there needs to be a focus on the quality of the team. What skills does the founder bring to the table? What experiences make the team members perfect for solving the problem they identified?

Considering how much publicity the tech world gets these days, most people have an idea of the characteristic features of a tech entrepreneur in the western world…however, I feel like there’d be a few additional requirements for the average Nigerian techie to successfully run a business. Quickly adapting to infrastructural challenges (e.g. power issues) could be a skill-set all on its own. What do you think? Are there are a few “extra credit” courses you’d need to take to successfully run a business in Nigeria?

Let me know your thoughts.


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1 Comment

  1. B March 9, 2016

    Great article Isioma! I’d say successful tech entrepreneurs here need to demonstrate a strong grasp of the local individual and collective complexities and nuances that their tech solution is attempting to solve. That is, most problems here are non-tech but meaningful solutions can be scaled by technology. The tech entrepreneur needs to demonstrate her understanding of the non-tech problem.

    That requirement would hold anywhere in the world I think but sadly here, most people use knowledge of developed economy problems to create “local solutions.”

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