All posts tagged ecosystem

The Business of Start-up In Nigeria Is Brutal

Editor’s Note: Olumide Olusanya, Dr (@docolumide) is the Founder, CEO & Service Architect at Gloo.ng (@gloo_ng)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat!” —Theodore Roosevelt.

Why would I be writing my very first blog post ever with such a long quote? It is because I have searched for over ten years—and will continue to search—but have not still found any other that best encapsulates the totality of what doing startups in Africa, and especially Nigeria, entails. To cut any portion of the quote out will take from it. Adding a single exclamation mark more will cause equal damage.

My purpose in choosing to begin to document some of my thoughts on this subject, similar to how others before me have started doing, is just so we can have a loudness of voices of DOERS in the technology ecosystem in Africa, and especially in Nigeria, to drown out the voices of the wingless fowls who have no farthing idea or clue as to what it REALLY means to do startups in Africa, and especially Nigeria.

I am not going to be talking about how to do startups following a Harvard MBA degree, as quite a number of the privileged “big guys” in this clime have. You begin to wonder if securing a foreign MBA that costs US$100,000+ and 18 months+ is the key qualification for doing something big in the tech space in Nigeria. US$100,000+ after discounting the costs of plane tickets, that is. (Why, by the way, would you go suffer, hunger, save and spend that much for such an education if you are already sold on the idea that tech business startup is WHAT you wanna do? Or is US$100,000+ not enough as starting point for a HUGE tech business?) Anyway, I would be flatly disqualified on that basis.

Neither am I going to be talking about doing startups with potentials for single digit million US$ exits. There is nothing exciting about that at all! No one deserves to face as much brutality and pain just for a single digit million US$ exit. Trust me—it is not worth the pain! (I dare say double digit million US$ exits too ain’t worth it as well.)

Furthermore, I will not be addressing this from the perspective of the professional critic whose only insight into doing startups in Africa is from what he gleans from binging on TechCrunch, PandoDaily, GigaOm and the like—most of which have no relevance WHATSOEVER to the very mortal nature of the combat of doing startups here in Africa. (You cannot even begin to guess how different and so far apart those startup terrains are from what obtains here in Africa, and especially Nigeria.)

And it will not be from the angle of the Conference Junkie—or Conference Hoe, if you prefer—the wannaprenuer, the guy whose face you ALWAYS see at all those shitty conferences that have no semblance of having anything to do with technology business or startups on this side of the world.

Finally, I will not be doing this from the vista of the dude who is usually the one you see on that stage at every Demo Day that is happening in town. Yes, you know yourself.

So whose perspective will it be from? Stay tuned…for my next blog post in the new year 2014—the year of THE Gloo!

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of OTEKBITS.

Updated: 3 Nigerian Startups To Pitch at Angel Fair in South Africa

Two (2) startups from the Wennovation hub and Descasio will be flying Nigeria’s flag at the inaugural Angel fair taking place on 26 & 27 September 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. These three startups – Ideacentric, OTG Playa and Descasio – were part of the 4 startups nominated by the Lagos Angel Network (LAN) to be part of the African-based startups that will be pitching to investors from different part of the world at the event. About 25 startups are expected to be present at this event taking place at Santon Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Why Angel Fair?

The idea of having the Angel fair came out of an informal lunch at the Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship where Andile Ngcaba (Convergence Partners), Eric Osiakwan and other like-minded entrepreneurs sat down to discuss issues facing entrepreneurs in Africa in a way to finding possible solutions to them.

According to Jamie Clyde, the co-founder, Angel Fair, ”the idea was to create a network of angels who could provide early stage start-up fund and things like networks, mentoring and other contacts. We want to help people go through the classic cycle from idea to product to business more easily. In Silicon Valley, they know how to take care of all this. But in Africa, you need to provide what we are calling ‘mentor financing’; in other words all the things that wrap around the finance itself”.

We are working with our friends from the Lagos Angel Networks to bring you live update from the event. So, keep a tab on our twitter handle, @bits.

Update: 3 startups – Ideacentric, OTG Playa and Descasio - from Nigeria will be taking part in the Angel Fair as against 2 mentioned in the post earlier. Apologies for this error.

NigeriaCom 2013 Holds This Week In Lagos

Nigeriacom is one of the biggest gathering of stakeholders and leaders within the telecoms sector in Nigeria. Organized by Informa Telecoms & Media, Nigeriacom is part of the Com World series and is a platform which offers regional operators and regulators an opportunity to come together to discuss, rub minds and examine more closely the problems plaguing the ecosystem in a bid to providing sustainable solutions to them. This week, the event returns to Lagos, Nigeria.

As usual, Etisalat will be the headline sponsor of this year’s NigeriaCom conference and the event will be taking place at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria from 17 to 18 September 2013. The theme of this year’s event is “Working together to provide Quality Services throughout the Digital Realm”. According to the organizer, there would be about 400 speakers and 700+ attendees at this year event.

The NigeriaCom event also sees a return of the AppGig – a program which is free and open to all independent app developers, coders and software engineers. Following on last year’s immense popularity and success, this year’s AppGig would focus on highlighting the latest developments in the App world. This second edition will also take a look at how Africa is set to spearhead the world in App innovation. Participants at this year’s AppGig at NigeriaCom are expected to hear from experienced and engaging speakers from different aspects of the ecosystem including developers, content producers, handset manufacturers and other key players.

Can’t make it to the event venue physically? Don’t worry…. Our team will be on ground to bring you key highlights from the different sessions at the events. So, if there are any particular person you will like us to interview, let you know via the comment box below.

Co-Creation Hub Nigeria - One idea at a time

CcHub Holds Startups Showcase As It Turns 2

Let the drum roll and the celebration begin…Co-creation Hub Nigeria is two. As Bankole mentioned, it feels as if they have been around for ever. I still remember the first day the hub was opened to the public. And yes, it still looks like yesterday.

While people might have different opinions, I believe cchub has had positive impact on the ecosystem. Most people have been given platform to excel. Others have been introduced to the art of coding all thanks to cchub and its partners. So, join us in wishing the cchub team a happy birthday and more success in the ecosystem :).

As part of its 2 years celebration, cchub will be holding startups showcase event today. Time is 3pm and the venue remains 6th Floor, 294 Herbert Macaulay Way, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos. If this interests you or you would be around Yaba area later today, why not click here to reserve a seat and join in the celebration.

Lessons From Celestine’s Tiketmobile Story: A Funds Managers Perspective

Editor’s Note: This post is by Ladi Phillips.  He’s passionate about helping people build their investment. A funds manager by profession. He breathe Cannes, Venice and Monaco.

I love the conversations Celestine has brought-up, with his story. This singular act of sharing his story can chart a new course for Nigeria and fast track the next phase in the chapter of start-ups in Nigeria. I only wish more people could join in this intellectual conversation.

I’d like to say I work closely with High Net-worth Individuals (HNI) in Nigeria, so I think I have an angle to offer on this topic.

These are the four points I believe, if anything, we could take from this conversation:

  • This situation makes it clear to start-ups and entrepreneurs that Nigeria plays by a different set of rules. In Nigeria, great ideas solely cannot get you there, its ideas turned into businesses capable of/or presently generating revenue that counts in Nigeria.
  • With more start-ups being conscious of point one, efforts will be directed at this and more venture-back-able businesses will spring-up, and also venture capitalist themselves.
  • There are firms that offer strategic and business development advice to achieve point one; therefore founders and start-ups should make full use of them.
  • Finally, more people need to tell their stories.

In relation to my fourth point, real life stories help a lot of people and Celestine’s story is evidence of the importance of doing so. This will definitely help direct the actions of people in similar situations. Experience sharing also helps the raconteur; I won’t be surprised if Celestine gets a VC funding from this. Also the many suggestions from people will prove invaluable to him in someway.

At this point to those that are not aware of what I’m talking about, TechCabal and many other blogs have written about it, check them out here and here.

As I mentioned earlier I work with HNI, and at work we get constant calls from these individuals seeking where to invest their money. They never want to leave cash ideal in the bank. The pressure to always get an investable venture is real. The office rule is: “the firm with the best investable idea gets the money”. In the past few years a good chunk of these funds have gone into properties in Dubai. You might then ask, so why don’t we invest in start-ups? Answer is simple, very few start-ups ‘monetize’. For them to attract these investors they need to show the potential and we also need to see a few of them. Only then can we as fund manager’s advise HNI to invest in start-ups in Nigeria.

SEE ALSO: How To Make An Angel Investor – Iyinoluwa Aboyeji

A few months ago, I went for a business deal for one of our clients in Dubai, on my way back I met a young Nigerian at the airport; we spoke about something similar, something in the line of “where is the money? Where does the money go? And who needs the money?” and one of our conclusions was, a lot of start-ups are set-up by tech/operational savvy guys, but they most times lack strategic/business skills.

One thing is for sure; the money is here in Nigeria.

A piece of advice for start-ups, business strategy advisers exist in Nigeria, use them! I know a few, but the only one I have used is P&D Allianz, and they delivered exactly what we wanted.

Yes you have great ideas, but you need to develop it to a potentially income generating business, if you don’t know how, seek advice.

What You Need To Know About The MTN App Challenge

We talked about the launch of MTN app challenge last week. A lot of questions were asked by interested developers about the challenge. Our team were at Co-Creation hub last Wednesday where the MTN Nigeria team hosted more than 100 developers in a briefing session. So, if you are still wondering why you should take part in this App challenge or what you need to do? Read on.

Why MTN Challenge?

According to Bosun Tijani, CEO and Co-founder of CcHub, developers need a brand like MTN Nigeria to ensure success with their mobile apps especially as it relates to monetization and reaching the final consumer faster. Also, the MTN app store supports most development platforms.

The MTN App Store

The MTN app store is an aggregator store. So, as a developer you only need to focus on developing your mobile apps and then uploading them to the store. The supported platforms are:

  • Android
  • Apple
  • BlackBerry
  • Nokia (Java)
  • HTML5
  • Windows Phone (7 for now)

In-app billing will be available from October 2013. So, this will give the developers great opportunities to monetize their app as not readily available on other stores. Also, MTN will leverage their great visibility and targeted advertising to drive apps downloads. This will definitely remove advertising cost from the developers.

App Store Revenue Share

Developers gets 40% of the price / cost of the app.

Eligibility for The Challenge?

Only free apps are eligible for the challenge.

The top four apps based on number of downloads will then be short-listed from each category and reviewed by the judges.

Other Information

Can’t remember what the prizes are? Click here.

Once you have submitted your app, remember to send an email with the app(s) name and your developer account name to mtndeveloperchallenge@nexva.com.

Happening Now: 48-Hour Hackathon for Financial Literacy Challenge

Yesterday evening, six teams gathered at the Co-creation Hub Nigeria to hack for the financial literacy challenge. After several weeks of ideation sessions, 6 ideas were shortlisted for the hackathon and 6 different teams were formed comprising developers and UX designers. The hackathon started proper yesterday at the cchub and while we were all asleep, members of the six teams were awake coding all night. If this area matches your interest, you can check out what the teams are doing at the cchub from now till Monday.

In case you can’t make it to cchub today, we have you covered. You can read about the six teams and the solutions they are working on below. And remember to let us know what you think about his idea :)

    1. Team Financial IQ lead by Detan Oyedele, iQube: This team of eight members will be working on a mobile learning platform with content on financial management and financial products from different service providers. The platform will be able to serve content to users based on their interest and also links them to related financial products from different service providers. To test their knowledge, the platform will include quizzes and exercise to test how much users have learnt with a globally accessible leader-board.
    2. Team NairaSaver led by Francis Onwumere, Prowork: This team is building an app on money-saving and management for Nigeria where people share and vote on money-saving tips. The app builds on ‘101 money saving tips peculiar to Nigeria’ compiled by Financial Literacy For All. The tips are categorized based on expense type as well as user demographics. Top tips as picked by users are profiled as “Tip of the Day”. The app can be an outlet for financial service providers to share products with users that may relate to specific tips.
    3. Team MoneyTalks lead by Peter Ihesie, iPolice: Their solution is a platform where users can get audio tutorials in multiple languages on specific financial issues that Nigerians face. This will be realistic answers that address common questions that consumers have from as basic as how to open an account. The question bank will be constantly expanded and users will be updated as new questions are added. Users can also share answers through social media.
    4. Team Market Trader led by Bayo Puddicombe, Pledge 51: This is a game targeted at the literate children of illiterate and semi-literate artisans, traders and other micro-entrepreneurs. The game educates them on financial issues and products but rewards them for promoting and educating their parents on these issues. The rewards are based on how their parents adopt these good practices and if they take up any of these products.
    5. Team Business and Community Game led by Ajibola Aiyedogbon: The team name is a perfect fit for the solution they are working on. The team is building a business and community game to educate young people on different finance issues. Their idea is to localize the content of the game to be Nigeria-centric and to digitize the game so that students can play them wherever they are. The games teach children to understand money and key financial concepts like earning, saving, investing and starting a business.
    6. Team Money Life led by Lanre Oyedotun: Money Life is a simulation game that involves kids budgeting, earning, saving, spending accumulated funds around real-life scenarios. Based on their performance, they get awarded points and can vie for top spot on a leaderboard. The players can also assume avatars of specific characters and play out a scenario in the character’s life.

Interested in knowing how the hackathon is going? You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #FinLitChallenge.

See below some pictures from the event.

MTN Nigeria and CcHub hold Information Session For The Developer Challenge

As reported earlier, MTN Nigeria has launched an App developer challenge in partnership with with Co-creation Hub.  The categories are Health & Wellness, Education, Entertainment & Lifestyle, Gaming, Productivity and a special category for Student submissions. Apps are expected to be free for the duration of the competition to boost chances of downloads by consumers. The competition will run from now until October 24, 2013 and winners will be announced by December 13, 2013.

To ensure that all apps meet the needs of the millions of customers on the MTN Nigeria network, there will be ideation sessions with experienced practitioners in each category to help developers/tech entrepreneurs deepen their knowledge especially the markets and areas which will cater for the hunger of the consumers to improve their lives.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Agriculture Challenge For Africa

The first of these sessions will take place on Wednesday, 31 July at CcHub. Developers will have the opportunities to hear first hand from the MTN team and ask questions related to the challenge in a relaxed and fun environment. The details of the event are as follows:

  • Date: Wednesday July 31, 2013
  • Time: 5pm
  • Venue: Co-creation Hub, 294 Herbert Macaulay Way, Sabo, Yaba

If this interests you, why not click here to sign up now.

Nokia May Withdraw Support For The Developer Community

Last week we mentioned in a post how Nokia has stopped supporting the Facebook Developer community group where developers get help on development from Nokia experts. This week, Nokia also announced the discontinuation of Nokia Developer Projects Service due to an ongoing trend of low activity and increasing costs. Once this service stops, all unsaved data will be lost.

The Nokia developer’s group is sending out a message to all developers to backup any of their project data as soon as possible. As of now, a date has not been announced for the discontinuation of this service, but they promised it will be in a few weeks. The other community services, including discussion boards and wiki, will remain available for future use.

Nokia Developer Projects is the online hosting solution for collaborative software development in mobile. It is a place where you can explore and grow your idea or join a new project.

Here is a walkthrough on how you can migrate your repositories to another service:

For Git
  1. 1. Make sure that you have pulled the latest revision of the repository you wish to move. You can usually achieve this by running the following command in your local repository:

git fetch origin

  1. Create an empty Git repository on another service of your choice

  1. Add the newly created empty repository as a new remote by running the following command:

git remote add new_repo https://$LOCATION_OF_NEW_REPO

  1. In the root directory of the repository, run the command:

git push –tags new_repo refs/remotes/origin/*:refs/heads/*

  1. You can now clone the new repository and start using it. It should have the entire history of the old one.

For Mercurial
  1. Make sure that you’ve pulled the latest revision of the repository you wish to move.

  1. Create an empty hg repository on another service of your choice

  1. Edit the .hg/hgrc file of the repository you wish to move adding the following line to the [paths] section:

new_repo = https://$LOCATION_OF_NEW_REPO

  1. In the root directory of the repository, run the command:

hg push new_repo

  1. You can now clone the new repository and start using it. It should have the entire history of the old one.

For subversion
  1. Download and install rsvndump on your local machine

  1. Create a subversion dump file by running

rsvndump –username $username –password $password –keep-revnums https://$PATH_TO_MULTIPROJECT_REPO > repository.dump

  1. (Optional) If you need to filter out some cruft from the repository before importing it somewhere else, this should be done now. The tool svndumpsanitizer is recommended for the job.

  1. Set up an empty svn repository on another service of your choice

  1. Transfer the dump file to the new server.

  1. Import (or have your friendly new system admin import) the dump file by running:

svnadmin load /path/to/new/repo < repository.dump

  1. You can now check out the new repository and start using it. It should have the entire history of the old one (minus the stuff you optionally excluded with svndumpsanitizer).

The Nokia Developer group thanks you for using Projects and being part of the community. You can check out other post from the OTEKBITS Developer’s corner here.

7 Things To Consider When Choosing Your Startup Name

Choosing a name for a business must be planned carefully, a good name is wonderful, a great name; so much more. One may never know the extent to which the name of a business might encourage or discourage a potential customer.

Startup entrepreneurs rarely consider that it takes a long time for people to come to love your ‘unpronounceable’ startup name. While this might not be entirely a bad idea, what smart entrepreneurs do is to be very creative with the naming of their idea by removing misrepresentation, friction and controversy, thus creating a smooth road for it to fly.

SEE ALSO: OTEKBITS Sucks! 

Having a strange name is actually very daring and it positions your business as a unique brand. But you need people to remember the name; you need to be creative enough for Google to associate your name with the relevant keywords; you need to be sure everyone can pronounce it; you need to ensure that is has no negative connotations elsewhere.

Here is the thing, most businesses that use strange names usually have big budgets to push it up our noses. There are no rules, but you need to think hard enough before settling for a name. This process is worth the consideration to avoid infringement lawsuits, misrepresentation and the cost of rebranding later.

There are three basic approaches in choosing a business name:

Direct approach: Plain dumb simple, dude. This is the straight forward, no thinking approach. Your name is what you do – plain and simple. Bus.com.ng is an example, no questions asked. Using this approach, one chooses a name that reflects what the company is involved in.

Blank approach: this involves choosing an abstract name that doesn’t tell what a company is involved in. Example is Apple Inc., makers of Apple computers.  (Apples are in any way connected with computers)

Coining a name approach: here, you just put words together to form a new word that didn’t exist before, like Skype.

Now that you know the different types of ways to name a business, here are some pointers on what to look out for when choosing a business name:

1. Cognitive fluency is key

Cognitive fluency is a study in psychology that measures how easy it is to think or say something. Studies have shown that shares in companies with easy to pronounce names do significantly well than those of companies with hard to pronounce names. In naming a company, it is therefore important that the name should be easy to remember like Facebook, YouTube, Channels, Efiko.

2. Be original

It is important that the name given to a company is original, i.e. the owner’s idea. This helps in distinguishing a new business from an existing one.  However, if an existing name must be used, modifications can be made such as introduction graphic elements and addition of words or letters. The problem in using an existing name for a new business is that people might not be able to tell the difference, except the two businesses are in different sectors, then this problem might be minimal.

3. Make it a legal name

This is a no-brainer, but because most people start by ‘trying it out first to see if it will succeed’, we never do a background check. Before you spend a lot of money on branding and publicity, try to do a name search with the Corporate Affairs, a trademark search with the Ministry of Commerce and an availability check for the domain name.

Once you find it is available, lock it down! Do everything to get to get it registered. This simple step can save you the cost of similarities and infringements later.

4. Ask for people’s opinion

A focus group can be used to find out what people think the business should be called, bearing in mind that the customer is king. The whole process of deciding can be made easier for the focus group when there are options to choose from.

5. Let your name speak for you

It will be great if the name gives an idea about what you are involved in. While there are successful names that draw blanks, e.g. Quora, Dealfish, OLX, NaijaLoaded, you will need to work extra hard to ingrain the name in the mind of your target audience. Descriptive names are a quick way to get your name registered on the lips of every one. These include,  Jobberman, Wakanow, Microsoft, MySpace

6. Does the first alphabet matter?

Sometimes it does. Every time Zygna appears on a list of games, it’s always last. Some companies will get a lot of traction because they will always be named first.

7. Is it ‘web’ compliant?

It important to do a name search online and pay attention to how your new name looks or will be pronounced and spelt online. Names URLs  like choosespain.com ( Choose Spain Rentals), teacherstalk.com (teachers community), wintersexpress.com (winters express newspapers), auctionshit.com (eBay competitor), mammotherection.com (scaffold erection/dismantle services), and nycanal.com (New York State’s Canals) are prone to carry mixed messages and you do not want to join this list.

SEE ALSO: The Anatomy Of A Failed Startup

These are my two cents, but ultimately, the choice of what to name your business is a balance of the people who will use it and your will to get it out into the open. This will also determine the success of the name you choose.

What are your own thoughts? Heard of any funny names that succeeded?