Tuesday, 13 June 2017

(YALI) Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs : The StartUp Ecosystem in Nigeria

There is a reason why I always decided to work at night and the reason was simple, less disturbance.

Yesterday somehow I felt I had found the right time to type this article and my parents tag-teamed with my grandma to ensure I didn't get this piece done.

And as fate would have it, somehow my phone deleted all my progress.

I hope this second attempt would be better than the first....

Well here goes nothing....

Before I delve right into the reason why you all are reading this blog post. I just wanted to get something off my chest.

A lot of you might not agree but I have openly refused to comment on any political or ethnicist propaganda that seems to go round Nigeria at different cycles. It appears that Nigerians have not realized that these issues have been created as a form of diversion tactics for Nigerian power brokers to work some magic in our treasury.

Well my reasons are simple, our ethno-religious crises that have occurred over the years since Independence , the most notable being the Biafran War was caused by Army Men that were extremely power hungry, overthrowing legitimately elected presidents at will. What we are suffering now is not any different. This current government saw us into a recession and have been struggling to get us out of the recession and the people are frustrated and our fragile ethnic bonds are laid bare and fray.

Well I decided to take my apolitical stance in Nigeria is as a result of clarity. I have come to realize that there is no point arguing to complaining as loud as on social media about the state of leadership in the Nation and more of the same albeit worse happens still. I have decided to focus my attention through applying Entrepreneurship to innovate and improve processes and systems in Nigeria while creating employment and building future entrepreneurs. I believe that is what God is calling me to do, and by His grace I would carry it out to the best of my ability and through that means, make Nigeria a better place.

But yeah straight to the point now....

Over time, I have started taking part in personal and capacity development exercises and events as it dawned on me that the people that I was spending a lot of my time with were not having a positive effect on my life any longer. I needed a switch and I have joined a few groups from late last year till this moment. I had made the decision to go into Entrepreneurship and it became glaring there was a lot I needed to learn. A vital group I became a part of  is the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Abuja. A programme organised by Former USA President, Barack Obama to train Young African Leaders to turn the tide of the African Continent. Nigerians in this group continuously inspire me to be greater everyday.

Well, there was this event last week Saturday titled: Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs: The StartUp Ecosystem. The YALI Exco Team were able to get the CEO of Ventures Platform and Emerging Platforms, Kola Aina to drop some key nuggets on Entrepreneurship.

There was a lot he said, if you missed out, you missed big time, but I would iterate a few points subsequently so you would learn as well.

Well he is a Electrical Engineering graduate, but he told us that right after his graduation he started pursuing Entrepreneurship, he had tried to float a lot of businesses in parallel, which ultimately failed. Although he was able to always able to pay his bills because he....

LIVED BELOW HIS MEANS...

This means that he had learnt to save for the rainy day and was always ready to spend on his needs and not his wants.

This was asides the fact that he learnt to broker stocks early which earned him a few bucks along the line.

He noted that his experience working for others enabled him to,

DEVELOP SKILL-SETS TO FUNCTION IN A WORKPLACE...

He soon after mentioned how vital it was for an Entrepreneur to have learnt certain skill sets which are normally gained by working for other people in order to perform at optimum level and strive for success. And I believe this too, work experience enables one to develop transferable skills which are vital whenever you decide to start your own company, because you would have to perform a variety of different roles, like I do now.

He had been pressured by his dad to join the family business but he had made the decision to

LEAVE THE KNOWN IN THE PURSUIT OF THE UNKNOWN.

He bootstrapped Emerging Platforms that were involved in building tech solutions for organisations , but as a result of the fact that what they were doing was not in line with the original plan of starting the company was to build as many companies and take them to a successful exit. That's what led him to founding VENTURES PLATFORM.

Ventures Platform is an accelerator program that is a co-living and co-working space that trains startups on business best practices and strategy that would make them successful and they fund their business in order for those business to scale up their operations.

He mentioned to us that he understood the need to always strive for excellence and employ people to complement your efforts.

He dropped us a few steps to building a successful company.

1. WHY?

Discover why you were put on this earth to do? And when you align it with your passions and develop the skills set to be very good at it. You would be fulfilled knowing that you are answering your calling from God.

2. ESTABLISH A CLEAR MORAL COMPASS

Although we are in Nigeria and a lot of issues are taken for granted, it is important for a startup to not cut corners because wrong decision tend to come and bite you back. Believe in Karma.

3. JUST START

He said as a startup founder you really don't need to know everything about your company, first off it makes you rigid and second of all, taking a page out of Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard speech, "Ideas do not come fully formed". It is important to start however crappy it is and continuously iterating your products to serve your paying customers better.

4. CREATE AN MVP (MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT)

This is particularly important especially when you're trying to access a crowded market, your MVP has to be unique and tailored towards a niche market. Once you have a good level of early customers, you could use their responses to continuously iterate your MVP to suit their needs better.

5. THRIVE

He said that the reasons why some startups fail is the inability to predict cycles in business, they might be experiencing a boom and not expect a lull in business that always comes. The ability to restructure in the lull period, retrench staff and even re-coordinate the company's management team in order to survive the lull and give the company the breath of fresh air to coordinate activities and build profits.

He decided to stop here and take questions,

A lot of people had questions to ask, and I asked the first question?

a. As a startup what traction channel do you approve off?

Response
Viral Marketing (Referrals). Customers are the best and cheapest form of advertising. If a client uses your service and really enjoys it, there is a very high chance they would tell other people about it at no expense for your company.

The next questions were asked by others.

I would take the most important five other questions,

b. How do you determine if your StartUp is successful?

Response
The best recipe for failure is to think being featured in a blog or a newspaper shows that your business is developing. You must make use of KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) which I would consider things like revenue, traffic and customer base.

c. How does education and capacity development help in building a successful business?

Response
He said he does not really take education to be really important, although he doesn't expect to employ a failure. But he looks beyond that and despite his degree he knows how important reading books like The Alchemist, Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren) and an article "Disciplined Pursuit of Less" coupled with multiple MBA degrees. He learnt the skills and developed himself to be succeed in his business.

d. Should a startup invest in other business?

Response
He argued that a startup should be investing in itself, in an effort to build and scale up the company, although, investing is also a good option. He said during lulls during his early Entrepreneur days, he was able to stay afloat through investing in different companies.

e. Why do companies fail?

Response
He stated that there are variety of reasons why a company would fail. He stated that his dad's publishing press company failed as a combination of poor management decisions to pivot at the right time and government policies that made printing books outside Nigeria made it cheaper than printing books in Nigeria.
He stated that a company could fail as a result of poor management, poor staffing (internal) or external factors like governmental policies, power, price hike in supplies etc.

He also stated that most startups fail from internal issues especially when they focus more on funding or distribution channels instead of focusing on their customers, who are supposed to be the prime focus of the startup. Although he also noticed that for Nigerian Startups there is usually a lull between the $100,000 and the $1,000,000 worth of funding available for Nigerian Startups to scale their activities and he stated that such lull in capital could lead to the startup's fail. Without funding, the business cannot run.

f. What is the best time to make a transition into Entrepreneurship?

Response
He stressed that before you go into Entrepreneurship, although it is ideally a "leap of faith" , that an Entrepreneurs need to...

KNOW WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW

He felt that gaining experience in a structured work environment is vital especially in roles that would help you improve transferable skills like leadership, team-work , team building and punctuality as these are skills that would need to be honed if you want to be at your A-game since you would be running a company. Only a serious CEO can build a serious company.

NEMO DAT QUOD NON HABET

One cannot give what they do not have.

An Entrepreneur must have these valuable experiences so that he or she is aware of their shortcomings and work and develop themselves before venturing in Entrepreneurship especially when they plan on making a success of their startup company.

Honestly, I cannot say that I did justice to this piece, but half of the time I was stunned by some nuggets that I didn't get enough time to put them all down in writing.

This goes to show how much you can develop yourself if you become part of the YALI Abuja Team!

Thanks for reading,

Best regards,

Muna (HubbonNG)

2 comments:

  1. Straight to the point. Makes a whole lot of sense. Freeman

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the positive response sir. You can subscribe to the blog and follow our amazing articles.

      Delete

Love the article? Subscribe to our mailing list

Most Viewed Posts

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *