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Anyone Who Tells You Not To Start A Nigerian [Or African] Tech Company Is A F*cking Idiot!

Filed under : Africa, Nollywood

Because Manny and Mayweather are playing, I have to get my fight “fix” elsewhere and ain’t nothing like a fight between tech start-up founders! African ones at that!

So Techloy published an article by a Pascal Ehigie Aito entitled: HOW TO: Not Launch A Startup in Nigeria [now you know, those are fighting words especially when addressing my Nigerian peeps!]

My initial response was:

I totally DISAGREE with article for many reasons. The author contradicts his very premise with his statement and I quote “because communication has become a NEED and not a WANT.” PRECISELY, cell phones in Africa have BECOME a need and not a want. What need did an elderly African woman in the remote parts of Sierra Leone have for a cell phone back in the 80’s and early 90’s? Nothing! Fast forward to today, that elderly African woman living in a hut has not one but TWO cell phones! Let me remind the author that “Innovation is the whim of an elite before it becomes a need of the public.” Sony created walkmans before we even knew that we needed them. At the end of the day, the same PRINCIPLES that guide Silicon Valley should guide any tech founder in the world – what changes is the application of those principles based on your local conditions. So to all my African tech founders, innovate anyway….

But Jason Chukwuma Njoku, founder and CEO of IrokoTV (African movie portal) and Iroking (African music portal) said it all in a nutshell.

“Anyone Who Tells You Not To Start A Nigerian [I added African] Tech Company Is A F*cking Idiot!” *tell ’em why you mad son…*

Read on:

Yes I said it. Techloy published an article by a Pascal Ehigie Aito.

HOW TO: Not Launch A Startup in Nigeria

I think this is guy just plain wrong. And here is why.

1. To understand the proliferation of music startups in Nigeria you have to understand the fundamentals. Which this chap clearly doesn’t. 60.9% live on less than $1/day. Yes. But that leaves 64Million folk who don’t. And guess what? They’re mostly under the age of 19. According to the Economist Nigeria’s average population age is 18.7.

Look around you, not one FMCG / Significant brand can engage in marketing without ‘brand ambassadors’ who are from the Entertainment industry. Airtel / Glo / Coke / Samsung / Hennessy. Let me not bore you with the list. And guess what? TheRE are 25 radio stations in Lagos, Nigeria. Yes Lagos alone. An average 60-second spot price for radio in Lagos is US$42. Yup for a 60 second radio advert.

You tell me that’s not ripe for disruption? Radio currently is and projected over the next 3-5 years to outpace Internet spending in Nigeria.

Still think music startups are stupid? Importantly please point to me to a Nigerian (young or old) who doesn’t listen to some type of Music? Is that a need or a want?

Fact is life is pretty shit without music.

2. Clones can work? They just need to be localised. The devil lies in the details of the individual clones. Dealdey [Nigerian version of Groupon] appears to be doing rather awesome I must say. I believe they boast over 100k+ registered and are creating REAL value in connecting business’ with new customers in Nigeria. Real revenues.

3. VC’s? There are VC’s in Nigeria. Techloy’s Nigeria’s fastest growing internet companies of 2011. 71% of that list is VC backed. Give it 3-6 months and that would be 100%.

4. Techcrunch is good for inspiration. In fact I read Techloy daily because it is the only way to discover and to figure out whats going on in Nigerian tech. Any person who after reading about the $1Bn VC-round for Airbnb; closed his/her laptop, turned on his genset and starting thinking he was in San Fransisco, and acted like Techcrunch, is a fucking fool. They would have probably failed as an entrepreneur in the first place.

The fact of the matter is this. Nigeria has the largest internet population in Africa, and is on pace to grow to 100Million+ internet users by 2015. There are 13 ISP in Lagos offering internet solutions. Guess whats going to happen to the prices? There is fucking enormous broadband capacity waiting off the coast of West Africa to drag us into the future. Guess what, Economics implies that will be unleashed.

Finally the internet is the most fundamentally transformative ‘thing’ to hit humanity over the last 20 years. Yet that isn’t being felt in Nigeria.


Jason “Igwe” Njoku *smile*

I don’t know this Pascal guy but I implore every potential tech startup founder to just plain ignore him. Why?

* It’s easy to identify problems.Which he did so marvelously!!

* Re-read the article. There is nothing of actual substance in there.

* Dude runs a ’stealthy startup’, whatever that is. Launch already. Hit me up when you’ve signed up your 100,000th human being.

* If you truly have a kick ass game changing Nigerian startup. I am part of a loose Angel Network in Nigeria who can cut cheques of up to US$50k. My email is jason.njoku@gmail [dot] com – but please. Don’t fucking waste my time as I will be rude to you. kick ass game changers only.

Against better judgement I usually don’t respond to articles but this really got me mad this morning.

Now I’m off to speak about media and technology at Stanford Business School…

*and if you don’t know, now you know…*

Jason Chukwuma Njoku

Bravo Jason!

Now I think I can wait for Manny & Mayweather to figure when they gonna fight….

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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