GoMyway: Why Startups should have Sales Cofounders


#1

Hello guys, long time no see. This is a rant.

So GoMyway just died, due to lack of funding. As a business person, I don’t understand how you are a business if you are not making money, note that this view of mine applies strictly to the Nigerian environment.

Several startups exist in this Country, that are aping western models of Startup philosophy. The Nigerian market is savage, and is killing off Startups that are not modelled to be profitable from the get go.

Part of the situation starts from a wrong perception startup founders in Nigeria have. Get this clear, You need Sales/Marketing Cofounders far far more than you need a Tech/Coder Cofounder. In actual fact, you can always outsource development at the initial stages, if you have an idea, don’t look for a Coder. Look for a Sales/Marketing /Biz deV Co founder, then get another Cofounders to handle Operations. You don’t need a Tech Co founder. The Tech is just an interface between your target market and the service you think you provide. The interface is not the startup. The final service you provide the client is the startup.

Facebook is not a social media company. Facebook is an advertisement company.

Whatsapp is a Communications Company, which will soon become a Financial services company (paystack competitor)

Instagram is an advertisement Company.

Amazon is a Retail Chain.

AlibAba is a One stop Shop.

These guys will still find a way to do what they do without their present online interfaces.

Therfore when people create startups and focus more on the tech and not the service, I just look at them and shudder at their naivety. The Market will kill you.

If you have an idea, find a killer Sales guy as Your first Cofounder, then find a Management ninja as your Operations Cofounder. You don’t need coders, hire someone to build your first iteration, pay the person off, then scale up your iterations as you go on, make sure you start making money from the first day, you should handle customer services.

For tech people out there, I appreciate you guys, I am also an Engineer, but my designs and construction is pointless if people don’t use them or if my client does not recover his funds. Nobody wants to know how beautiful your hotel us if it doesn’t make you profits.

Many things are there for you to create, we have enough ride sharing apps or social networks etc.

Create a startup for clearing and forwarding. Create a startup for crowd based Agro logistics. Create something usefull. Make sure you hire and pay a Sales team and operations team , don’t bother to offer sweat equity. If you wouldn’t accept sweat equity, they won’t too.

Do something groundshaking for a change, if you really are as skilled as you think you are.

This is a rant, it may not make sense, but if you read it with a magnifier, perhaps you can pick something from it.

Have a nice day.


#2

I’m sorry but what have you built? This is not an attack. you seem to know a lot and I’m curious to know what you have built.


#3

A prime rule of healthy discourse is to attack the idea if you have reservations about it, but never attack the person. Op has made a convincing argument and you don’t have a sturdy reply so you attack him. How childish.
“This is not an attack.” and is this supposed to convince us or yourself?


#4

I used GoMyWay for more than 20 times. 90 percent of the ride, we riders ask ourselves how do these people profit from this venture… The GoMyWay team is a very committed team… I dont know the reason why they dont accept ride payments and make a percentage off it and why they dont charge drivers a small token to list their rides…

Damilola, we deserve a medium post!!!


#5

All I see is someone ranting like he is a Paul Graham. His argument is so long and poor, I don’t know where to start.

Tech startups shouldn’t focus on Tech, then he quotes Whatsapp.

Tech startups should be profitable from the get to, then he quotes Facebook.

“Instagram is an advertising company”? C’mon

Don’t take this the wrong way but if a mentally unstable man is making an argument, you don’t take out time to counter it.

Ranting on the death of a startup when you haven’t built anything is trash.


#6

Sorry how will facebook, whatsapp or instagram ‘do what they do’ without online interfaces. Then about the cofounders, you are supposed to build a balanced team with as many skills as possible, you can easily say you want to outsource a sales team even though it’s not the best.


#7

And you think we the technical guys will just agree with this?

Maybe goMyWay died because of some reasons but definitely not because they built the baddest tech.


#8

You see, this is not Nairaland, so I won’t reply you in your own Coin.

Of course I am mentally unstable, which is why I said it is a “Rant”.

I even admitted in the writeup that what I am saying is likely not to make sense to you guys, and even implored readers to use a magnifier to perhaps pick out some sense, if any, from the nonsense I wrote.

Therefore, when I see comments like yours, after all the disclaimers in my writeup, the only logical conclusion I may have is that you must have challenges in the area of comprehension.

But this is not Nairaland, so I won’t go down that road.

About building something, well, I work for myself, and have at least 20 direct employees, and provide high quality services to the demographic that can afford my services.

In my business, it is a matter of life and death for us to make profits, it totally defeats the purpose of any business based in Nigeria not to make money from the get go, the Nigerian market is structured differently, subsidizing services is the fastest way to fail here.

In summary sha, read to comprehend, if you disagree, disagree politely, I can mudsling as well as the average Nigerian, but that won’t be to your benefit or the public’s.


#9

Believe you me, in Nigeria. …it is extremely very crucial that you have a Killer Sales/marketing team, the more highly connected, the better.

It is time we stop daydreaming.


#10

It’s an opinion, I don’t expect you to agree. I am telling you what works in the real world in Nigeria.


#11

Sales co-founder or not , a startup that will die , will die


#12

The better the sales/marketing co-founder is, the faster a startup that doesn’t make what people want will die. If you think the platform is not important, why not just register a domain, employ a great sales guy and then see how many ad spaces you can sell.

I won’t go as far as my colleagues to say what you wrote was nonsense. I just think maybe you’re under the misconception that every industry is like yours.


#13

Tech is as imsportant as sales. You wont go far with poor tech team.


#14

Your first sentence actually supports my point. A sales/marketing Cofounder will have facts if an idea will fly or not in the market, if the market is large enough to make it a viable business , and know how best to acquire the customers/users, set prices etc.

If the startup does not pass the Sales/Marketing guy’s muster…the idea should just be killed, or the market will kill it at greater loss.

There was a time I had a fantastic solution to help people living outside Nigeria to own homes in Nigeria. I aranged a solid team of AEC professionals, set up a system, partnered with a Bank etc. Invested in social media ads, online ads etc. Did not have a sales/marketing co founder. We were all AEC tech guys. We even had reps in 7 Countries.

We had launched and spent some money setting up these things, that was when it hit us.

Our target demographic is not a social media user, the closest thing they can be on is whatsapp.

Our target demographic is found in town associations abroad and church societies, and is more likely to use our service if it comes via their church pastor or Town association etc.

Which means to sell our offer, we need to partner with town associations/Nigerian churches overseas and travel abroad to do roadshows and presentations etc…a lot of cash has to be spent upfront.

But assuming we have a Sales/marketing co founder, with strong connections to the diaspora demographic we are targeting, it will make our task far far far easier…a cakewalk even.

We quietly killed the project and focused on our Local Nigeria services. Will relaunch once we assemble our Sales/Marketing dream team.

We wasted money, but could have wasted far more had we continued.

Sales/Marketing and getgo money making plus killer idea is why Piggybank.ng is growing, it’s why paystack is growing.

Getgo profits is crucial If you want to survive in Nigeria.

Sacrifice now and get money later doesn’t work in Nigeria.

We wanted getgo money, we saw no way to do it without spending humongous amounts of money upfront, we killed it. Assuming we had a deeply politically connected Sales/Marketing Cofounder, we wouldnt have killed the project, as we would have been making profits from the getgo.


#15

If your use the Hotel Analogy, you will see that Sales is at least 5 times more important than Tech.

Say we have two scenarios. A real estate developer has an idea to build a Boutique hotel.

He hires a Solid AEC Tech team.
They design and build him this Hotel.

But in actual reality, for the developer to make back his invested funds with profits, the most important people to him are not the AEC Tech team that built the hotel, but the Sales/Marketing /Operations people that will bring in paying customers from the getgo.

The more connected his sales people are, the better for him, the higher the value he places on them. He can afford to fire and replace any AEC tech guy, but he will think long and hard about firing a Productive Sales/Marketing guy, because it will cost him potential customers and users of his hotel, which the Sales/Marketing guy can bring in at the onset.

Hotels see hotels.ng as their Sales/Marketing guy. It’s why hotels.ng may be making profit. It is the logic of the Nigerian market, make profits or die, and you can’t make profits without a deeply connected Sales/Marketing Killer team.


#16

I’m not saying a sales team isn’t important, my point is your product may suffer if you rely 100% on outsourced teams.
By the way GoMyWay didn’t fail because they couldn’t make sales or reach their target demographic, it’s just that their business model needed more runway than their investors were willing to give.


#17

I think they’re all just angry at how you downplayed tech; the golden fleece of the 21st century, the magic wand, the Merlin of our time. Sorry to burst your bubble guys, but if you build the best platform in the world & nobody uses it, you’re still gonna go belly up. I agree that a sales/marketing cofounder is far more important than a tech cofounder in Nigeria. Look around the country and you’ll see businesses whose use of tech ends at e-mails and spreadsheets who make more profit than paystack annually. So play up tech all you want, customer and profit is still King.


#18

In context, we’ve all heard about how Jumia lost about N20bn in six months, if anyone can spin that so their tech is to blame, then I’ll eat the humble pie.


#19

That is not true.

If Amazon closes their online interface today, Walmart will start to dominate as it was doing before Amazon came along.

Facebook wouldn’t have had Audience Network without the audience they created with their tech.

Imagine how shitty WhatsApp will be if they had a sales guy as a CEO. What WhatsApp pulled off can only be done with a team of very capable engineers. A sales person wouldn’t have helped WhatsApp at start in any way or even be able to come up with the idea of WhatsApp

All those companies you listed are really bad examples of what you are trying to say.

I think what you are trying to say is that marketing is very important for startups. This is the same for any other business, old or new. Do businesses need marketing? sure but will they die without marketing? no. Some services can be so good that they self-advertise.

Starting a tech business without a techie on hand 24/7 is just suicide. By tech business I mean something like hotels.ng whose selling point is being able to book hotels in Nigeria from anywhere around the world through a simple and efficient interace.

Imagine hotels.ng without the website. No, you can’t.

A transportation business or a retail business can do without a website or a website with minimal functionalities. I mean they have been doing so in Nigeria for years before the advent of smartphones and are still doing so.

My point being that you can’t just start a tech business and outsource the tech work. The tech is your business. You can get away with that if tech plays a minimal role in your business like I described above otherwise, your business will run itself into the ground.

You can do without a sales and marketing co-founder. They can always be hired later and not only that, their job can be automated. That’s what all these online ad agencies are for.


#20

Amazon just acquired Wholefoods.

Facebook makes its money from Advertisement.

I bet Whatsapp wouldn’t have even been created if they are to start off from Nigeria, as the market is not structured to promote startups that do not make money from the getgo. Konga has not reached profitability, Jumia just had a 61m dollars loss, and these guys even have sales people.

Marketing/sales is not just important for Nigerian Startups /businesses. It actually is compulsory/crucial if they are to survive the system.

Perhaps we have different understanding of what Marketing /Sales is.

Marketing is different from Sales.

A Garri Seller in a Market will always tell passers-by to buy from him or her.
A Garri Seller in a Market, if he understands what Sales is, may target Teachers Unions, and Sell at below market prices to them, in bulk and agree to get paid in a months time. If he understands the Sales process really well, he will even enter long time Garri supply contracts /agreements with the teachers union.

He probably will get them to do the deal if he knows someone on the board of the teacher’s union. This someone will meet with the final decision makers, satisfy their interests and do the deal.

Say this someone also knows the head of the union of nurses, he does the same Garri deal on behalf of his friend the garri seller…and replicates this deal across several unions he has connections to.

That is a Sales Cofounder. He is a door opener, deals maker, has deep connections to the potential customer demographic and can leverage his contacts to do deals.

That is how it works in the business world. By the way, Bill Gates got his break via an OS deal for IBM, but do you think it was his skills that got him the deal?..No, his mother actually knows a Senior decision maker on the OS deal in IBM and connected Gates to that Senior decision maker, that was how he got the deal…the rest is history.

Do not be deceived, the market will kill you if you have a beautiful hotel building but not enough customers to make back the money you invested in building the hotel.
In a Situation like this, who will you value more if you want to make money from the hotel, the Architect/Engineer that designed and built the hotel or a highly connected Sales Guy?

In the real world, as a Startup, in Nigeria. …without a Sales Cofounder, deeply connected politically to your target market, you will not survive.

If Interswitch really tell you how they grew, you will see that they made a lot of deals with the Lords of the Jungle.

Examples abound, do not be deceived by the hype, razzmattaz, the frills and thrills…the cool feeling…at the end of the day, the businesses that Survive Nigeria value Sales/Marketing far more than Tech.

But the whole point is if you do not structure your business to make money from the getgo, you cannot survive Nigeria.