5 startup ideas to disrupt Africa

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The word ‘disrupt’ is one tech entrepreneurs have gotten used to and find it so easy to throw out every now and then that it has become quite difficult to know what startup ventures will really disrupt industries.

Perhaps the most convincing definition of a disruptive idea is one by Clayton M. Christen, where it is more about making a product or service more accessible and affordable to a larger market.

That said, I have come up with six startup ideas that, ceteris paribus, will disrupt Africa. I am sharing five of them in this article as I’m currently working on the last one – Travel Bay, to launch soon. So let’s get started.

Continue reading 5 startup ideas to disrupt Africa

5 startup lessons from an entrepreneur’s interview

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For Context: TechCabal had an interview with Kola Oyeneyin, founder of Autogenius — a startup looking to disrupt the insurance industry in Nigeria. Having read the interview I culled up 5 valuable lessons for entrepreneurs who aspire to launch game-changing startups. The original interview of Autogenius is here.

1. Good idea that sounds like a bad idea

Peter Thiel was in Dublin recently for the Web Summit and after seeing him talk (along side 3 teen entrepreneurs from his foundation) I started to get a better grasp at his rant on ‘good ideas that sound like bad ideas’ and how these are ideas that eventually disrupt or carry attributes of true innovation. Ben Horowitz jumped on the bandwagon and this video of his does shed good light on the topic.

I realized that Insurance worked. I had tasted the value of insurance and I loved it.

I’d like to think Autogenius is one of such type of ideas especially since you can draw a parallels with the beginning of Airbnb as both Founders have secrets, in this case it is Kola Oyeneyin’s personal experience with insurance.

Continue reading 5 startup lessons from an entrepreneur’s interview

The Social Chef

My name is Nubi Kay’ and I’m a foodie.

It’s pretty rare to watch interesting movies that have glaring lessons for small businesses and brands but this was not the case with the movie — Chef.

I’d recommend every business owner, marketing department, and aspiring start-up founders to watch the movie as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are 5 social media takeaways:
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Continue reading The Social Chef

7 item checklist for attracting start-up funding

If this post were a tweet, I would end it with #imho, because indeed this post is mostly opinionated based on trend-watching and outcomes of discussions with one or two investors.

So with no further ado, here are 7 things any start-up founder or entrepreneur should be looking at when working towards or worrying about raising money from investors — angels, VCs, family, and friends.

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Continue reading 7 item checklist for attracting start-up funding

No entrepreneur’s excuse is valid in an ecosystem with incubators and accelerators

Talk to any startup founder or self-acclaimed [aspiring] entrepreneur about problems or hindrances on converting that $1bn idea into a company that actually has that in profit, revenue or even valuation and you’d end up with one of these:

  • Startup capital — funds needed to get an MVP off the ground.
  • Talent — technical, design, business development skills.
  • Mentor — people with experience to guide.
  • Investors — when it gets to the time to scale.
  • Others — which in truth you can dismiss without thinking about it.

However, after spending some time in incubators and accelerators both in Lagos and Dublin, I have come to a conclusion that there isn’t really an acceptable excuse. Sorry.

Continue reading No entrepreneur’s excuse is valid in an ecosystem with incubators and accelerators

The Easy Appetite Story As Told By My Co-Founder, Deji Opoola

I stumbled upon this piece on The Business Aim. It was one about my first startup – Easy Appetite – Nigeria’s first online takeaway site. Perhaps the most interesting ting about the piece is that it was a narrative of my co-founder and brain child of the idea. It is always great to see things in retrospect and hope you pick some startup tips and lessons in the piece. Enjoy.

“When Nigerians are hungry, they really want to eat, they don’t joke around”. These were the words of Deji Opoola Engineer turned entrepreneur and Co-founder of Easy Appetite a meal delivery (food on demand) startup when asked if there had ever been a time food was rejected on delivery. “Food is king and will always be, people already know what they want before contacting us; their only worry is delivery time of which we do our very best.”

In today’s world where tasks have become humongous and deadlines tight, leaving your work desk to grab grub at your favorite restaurant remains a persisting conundrum, and this is where Easy Appetite food delivery startup comes in. The startup does a great job in linking you to the best food houses, restaurants, pizza places and fast-food hubs by bringing you and your food closer and even presenting you with the opportunity to share your experience with various restaurants and recommend meals to families and friends.

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The CcHub incubated Startup founded in September 2012 was known formerly as ‘Lazy Appetite’ but got re-branded to ‘Easy Appetite’ for the need to make it more appealing to the older or matured audience in February the following year. “The ‘Lazy’ name was chosen so as to make it funky and not too serious but we decided to make the change after lots of feedback from people who felt the word ‘lazy’ was inappropriate” says Deji.

While the startup stayed with the name ‘Lazy’ it only forwarded food requests from customers to the restaurants that in turn did the delivery and then got commissions off each request. For starters things where looking up but then came the ban on motorcycles in Lagos State by its Governor Raji Fashola which was a major setback for both them and the restaurants because they were overwhelmed with requests with their main channel of delivery blocked. “We had a huge acceptance and work rate at that time, we and the restaurants didn’t find it easy delivering food since the bikes used for deliveries by the restaurants were less than 200cc which was the set standard by the Lagos State Government. And for the customers, it wasn’t really their business how you got the food to them, you just do.”

After the re-branding from ‘Lazy’ to ‘Easy’, the startup decided to make deliveries more efficient by doing some of it themselves thereby throwing three motorcycles and a car into the works, one stationed in the University of Lagos campus, one in Yaba axis and the other in Victoria Island. So far so good, the startup is one of the hottest in town, delivering food to busy folks hot and fast. With a very beautifully designed website splattered with pictures of exotic food which generates eruptions in one’s salivary glands, and links to your favorite restaurants that makes you so impatient and yet so easy for you to order your favorite meals and have it delivered to your office desktop in great time. Food mongers can locate the best food houses in their vicinity, browse through the menu selection and order directly on the site from a growing array of partner restaurants, e.g Terra Kulture, Deboanairs Pizza, Imperial Chinese, Honey Comb, Tetrazinni, Chill Zone, Café Mason Lagos, Southern Delicacies, Olivia’s Café, Say Cheese Cakes and many more. One can also pay for a friend via e-wallet, debit card or cash on delivery.

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Easy Appetite food deliveries cover select restaurants in Victoria Island, Yaba axis Lagos with huge concentration in the University of Lagos. And perhaps you are wondering why, here’s what Deji had to say, “Unilag was our first target since our office is based in Yaba”. More so he being an alumnus of the institution helped to procure the right connections to make breaking in and even look pretty. “Now Easy Appetite has exclusive rights and partnership with the major restaurants in the campus but hope to expand to other schools and areas gradually by biting what they can chew one chunk at a time” he said.

It’s being quite a ride for Deji who has a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos and thinks he’s really smart. He believes there are so many things people can do were they to put their mind to it. Getting the idea of his food startup from a podcast of another food related startup his sister brought back from the UK, he believed it was workable.

After listening to the podcast I called up a friend Nubi Kayode who also thought it could work, then I found Sope and Kunle a designer and programmer and the team was formed. So Nubi and I handled the offline while Sope and Kunle set up and managed the online. Nubi and I went around Victoria Island looking for restaurants even though we weren’t well vested in marketing at that point in time. It was really difficult and looking back now I knew I was pretty boring to some of the restaurant managers because I kept pushing on the technology aspect and other things which are the same mistakes a lot of startups make. The value for the client or the customer should be the selling point and focus. If you have the best app but can’t market it, it’s useless, but if you have the worst app but can market it well, you make money.

“Though we were novices, a few restaurants still gave us the chance; Tetrazzini, Imperial Chinese and WangTang Fusion and we remain grateful. The idea came when it did, it really just made sense; it didn’t look like it was going to be hard. I was a little bit naive; I thought most of it was going to be easy because I had never really done business before, now I know better.” Deji says.

Deji stressed that he always tries to prove he can ‘do’ and owes his steadfastness and drive to his dad who likes to shoot him in the foot first as motivation. “Once my dad told me he got a scholarship, and that I had to get mine before i could converse with him, and believe you me I did get mine” Deji says smiling.

Here’s what’s going to happen now that PayPal has arrived Nigeria

I met a good number of people during my stay in Lagos, Nigeria who wanted to PayPal so bad for things like paying for a Spotify subscription or web developers who needed kick-ass templates from Themeforest.

Then it got to the point of actually opening a petition on Change.org. As to if that contributed to the PayPal’s decision is another story.

Nigeria twitter space took on the news broken by Reuters and this post by TechCabal shows a good selection of reactions from techies. While we wait for the full service offering from PayPal, especially the peer-to-peer, as the Send Money is the only feature available, here are some things I see happening in the ecosystem:

We shall spend more more online

Kind of like the elephant in the room but why overlook the obvious? Nigerians already used forwarding addresses, IP, bank transfer, and more complicated and expensive means to shop online from stores and pay for services like Asos, Spotify, Deezer, and Themeforest. PayPal will only make it easier as one would expect online retailers that ship globally and receive payment with the service to start getting lots of orders from Nigeria. Import boom.

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#FollowTheLeader effect

PayPal is arguably the leader when it comes to online payment especially in retail. Stripe (a PayPal mafia company) which is already gaining grounds perhaps due it’s focus on developer community and mobile integration is already been sought after by the ecosystem was quick to excitedly signify from the tweet below that it too can’t wait to get a piece of the African market. Who’s next? Square?

Another type of ‘payment’ excuse to emerge

Developers, entrepreneurs, and business people in the local ecosystem are quick to jump to the problem of payment as to why they haven’t launched, business is growing, and so on and so forth. No doubt the limited edition of PayPal does not really solve most of the payment issues as most entrepreneurs see the merchant feature of more value than the send money feature. I guess I just helped in updating the excuse right there. More of similar tales to ahead.

 

Tweak mode activated. There is always a way

Nigeria brags of being the most resourceful people on earth especially when it comes to business. Some were making millions of dollars pre-PayPal, and some will make more now that PayPal is here but more impressive is a small amount of people will find a way to work with just the send money feature that it’d tick all the boxes of what a full PayPal service entails. I know my people. Go figure.

 

Sermonizing ‘Support Local Tech’

This is no longer news and the trend has always been when foreign startups/business come into the space as competition (as if there is some other reason as to why they are here), then the song quickly becomes — support local technology as seen in: Hotels.ng vs Jovago, Konga vs Jumia, …and now Paga (or other local payment service) vs PayPal.

Well I do support local tech and will join in preaching the sermon same way I did when they came to compete with my first startup — EasyAppetite.com but like Mark Essien of Hotels.ng says — “offer quality service to your customers and leverage on local knowledge to stay ahead.” So time for the local and other foreign folks including the banks card services, and even interswitch to sit up.

@asemota puts it best:

 

Diasporaneurs* just got a market boom

I stayed up all night browsing through my idea pad for business plans that were on hold due to the inability to receive money here in Ireland from potential paying customers in Nigeria. There are many Africans like me in diaspora doing the same thing following the announcement of PayPal’s arrival. The market size is very significant for any startup looking to serve it from the outside. So if you are in a merchant enabled country in Diaspora, time to launch those startup. For some reasons I know Jason Njoku and folks at iROKO will be very pleased with this opportunity.

*Diasporaneurs — diaspora based entrepreneurs.


This was first published as Now that PayPal is here on my Medium.