The CEO of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg came in to Nigeria on a surprise and unannounced working visit. Even though there have since been different media coverage of his visit and why he visited, why it matters to the tech community in Nigeria, how he dressed, his opinion of Nigerian Jollof Rice etc. This article is about the aftermath of his visit and what will or should happen next.
For those who didn’t know, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan had made a $24m investment in a Nigerian tech company – Andela via their foundation (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and part of the purpose of his visit was to check on them at Andela. He also visited the popular tech hub CCHUB at Yaba that happens to be having their summer of code boot camp at the time of his visit. Their boot camp gave Mark the opportunity to see and meet young kids who are just entering into the coding world. He also met with other experienced tech entrepreneurs who were working from CCHUB as at that time. It was also reported that he met with some Nollywood stars and he was quoted saying “Nollywood is a national treasure”. Lastly he attended the grand finale of AsoVilla Demo Day.
Now as to why his visit is important, before Mark Zuckerberg came in to see what the tech community guys are doing, people outside the tech community weren’t really paying attention to tech entrepreneurs in general. Only a handful who happens to be close to tech entrepreneurs or visits CCHUB will have some idea about what is really going on in the background. His visit has really beam the spotlight on the tech entrepreneur community.
Although the current government of Nigeria has been very loud about their intentions for the tech community. They have come out with AsoVilla Demo Day and N-Power schemes. While I applaud these initiatives by the government, the harsh reality is that they can’t do it alone. Individuals and corporate bodies needs to raise to the occasion and start supporting the tech community in ways beyond lip service.
Technology is no longer something we can continue to pay lip service to. It’s far beyond just using smartphones and social media. It has become part and parcel of our daily life. Technology entrepreneurs are the owners and shapers of the future which is already here. There are billions of naira to be made in this country if the right ideas are funded early.
I think its high time that well-meaning individuals who don’t necessarily have be tech savvy or venture capitalist come together and raise a fund for the sole purpose of funding tech entrepreneurs. Those of you that have trust funds or fixed deposits somewhere in the bank or you have shares in some archaic corporation and you keep thinking your money or shares will generate profit you, I urge you to please have a rethink. Your money is losing it’s worth every day in the bank, get your money out and invest it in a tech start up today, be an early bird. Don’t wait until these companies gets listed on NSE before you start hustling to have a piece.
(P.S. I strongly believe that before the next general election we’ll have at least 10 tech start-ups listed on the NSE).
An innovative tech startup will never go out of business no matter the hardship, they’ll adapt and flow with the trend of the moment in the tech industry. Look at Facebook for example, they started out as Facebook then they bought Instagram and then they bought WhatsApp. Take Google again, they started out as a search engine then moved on to webmail, then bought YouTube, then bought Android Inc and launched Google Nexus, then bought and sold Motorola. So I can guarantee you that if you invest your money today in an innovative tech startup, you won’t regret it.
We don’t have to wait for the government or a foreigner to come and open our eyes to what is already in front of us. Many of you know a tech entrepreneur or a boy/girl that is always with his/her laptop, start asking them questions what are you working on…How does it work? How can it make money? How can I help you? You’ll be amazed at what Nigerians are capable of. (P.S. You must be ready to listen and not interrupt them while they are trying to explain and don’t jump into conclusion that it won’t sell or work just because you don’t understand it)
I know of some existing VC’s who have already invested in some Nigerian startups, both those that work in and outside of CCHUB but I think these VC’s need to expand the range of their searchlight to look beyond CCHUB. There are thousands of tech entrepreneurs out there with multi-million naira ideas who have probably never been to CCHUB even though he/she might have heard of it. These VC’s need to do more marketing/publicity and make themselves easily accessible to tech entrepreneurs. There is too much secrecy about what they are doing and how they are doing it, most young tech entrepreneurs don’t even know where and how to start when it comes to seeking funding.
Some of the known VC’s and Angel Investors in Nigeria and Africa includes: Rocket Internet Group – Jumia, Jovago, HelloFood etc, Kinnevik – Konga, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation, Omidyar Network, Lagos Angel Network, Africa Business Angel Network. We need more and more of genuine, professional Venture Capitalists who are ready to invest in a business idea they believe in, who will not go behind the back of the original business idea owner and execute the idea pitched to them just because the business idea owner didn’t agree to sign their term sheet.
Another major challenge of the tech entrepreneurs is the lack of or inaccessibility to tech lawyers. Yes, you lawyers are all guilty. All of you have chosen to stick to the same old thing, if it is not litigation law, it’s property law, oil and gas law. Even those that claim to be practicing corporate law, they only focus on the big paying clients. Thanks to the recent trend of bringing legal services closer to tech entrepreneurs via the internet, we have seen some initiatives like DIYLAW, IncorporateNG and LegalForms all trying to make legal services be more affordable and accessible to budding tech entrepreneurs. Apart from helping these budding entrepreneurs with business name or company registration, we need more law firms that actually have teams that are dedicated to helping tech entrepreneurs to legally navigate the wavy storms of the corporate world. Tech entrepreneurs need tech savvy lawyers who can help them go over contract agreements, term sheets, merger and acquisition agreement, employee agreement, partnership agreement etc.
Aside from the challenge of accessibility to tech lawyers, tech entrepreneurs also need help with developing an idea, marketing it and getting the right set of people to employ or work with on a business idea. Most tech entrepreneurs only have ideas in their head, often times they need help developing these business ideas into a marketable concept that can attract VC’s or Angel Investors.
It is no longer news that ideas get stolen easily in this country, especially by bigger corporations like banks, telecos and competitors who sidetrack business idea owner just because they feel they can get away with it. The Nigerian tech entrepreneur community needs honest fellow tech companies that will be willing to sign NDA before a pitching session and stick to the terms of that NDA, we need tech marketing firms that will be willing to commit to the promotion of a tech startup in advance before it starts generating revenue – provided they believe in the business idea of such tech startup. Just like we have artiste management firms that spend their own money on the promotion of an artiste in anticipation of reaping their returns from record sales and other means of revenue.
We need tech firms that will be committed to helping these young tech entrepreneurs develop their ideas without cheating, backstabbing or taking advantage of them. We also need more tech hubs like CCHUB scattered all over the country. Again, the current government has announced their plans to create such hubs all over the federation but we don’t have to wait for them. Individuals can start something like CCHUB in their own state, although in the last two years there have been a surge in the number of co-working spaces in Nigeria. We have seen Capital Square (Lekki & Ikoyi, Lagos),Venia Business Hub (Lekki Phase 1), WorkBay (Lekki Phase 1, Maryland and Ikeja, Lagos), A1 Spaces (City Hall, Lagos), iDEA Hub (Ikeja), Ventures Platform (Abuja) etc. I applaud and commend the efforts of the people behind these initiatives but we need more of them.
In conclusion, Mark Zuckerberg has come and gone. Now is the time for everyone both those inside and outside the tech community to rise to the occasion. For those inside the tech community, keep doing what you know how to do best, the world is waiting for you. For those outside the tech community, make the move to invest in a tech start-up today and secure your slot in a future that is already here. Great things are happening in the tech community and greater things are bound to happen. The future is not only bright for the tech community in Nigeria, but it is also secured with the best of the best cryptography key 🙂
Thank you reading, please share this article with someone you know that needs to read something like this.