Hello Radar! I'm Fola Olatunji-David from Ventures Platform - let's talk all things startups! AMA!


#1

**UPDATE: 6:00 PM **
**Thanks for participating with me in this AMA. **

Are you solving a real problem with your startup? Why not apply for our accelerator program at http://venturesplatform.com/accelerator

Thank you.


Hi guys, I’m Fola Olatunji-David, tech enthusiast and general lover of all things startups!

I manage the accelerator (formerly incubator) program at Ventures Platform Abuja, where we support innovative new businesses solving some of Africa’s biggest challenges.

Started my career working in core tech roles, first in infrastructure, then later in web technologies, but I have over the last 5 years transitioned into more business facing roles. I have carried out technology related work in several countries in different sectors including finance, power, retail and investment banking and education, but I am now focused on building a Nigerian eco system that supports young innovators and entrepreneurs.

In Nigeria, I have worked/work with Stanbic IBTC, CardinalStone Partners, Venture Garden Group (VGG), SET IT, Passion Incubator and of course, Ventures Platform.

Away from work, I like football - in the past I played semi-pro football, and still play 2/3 times a week. I am also the current FIFA and chess champion at VP (argue with yourselves VP team).

Very excited to be here discussing startups, I’d be happy to take your questions from 2pm today! Lets go!


#2

#3

My questions are:

  1. why do VP ask for that much equity?

  2. What are the top 3 reasons why you think a start up should go through VP

  3. My cofounder and I are not coders can we be acvept d into VP?

  4. Can VP take less equity if we have the funds but needs the connect ?

  5. What’s the highest you’ve ever given a start up. Or what’s the current highest amount you’ll gift a startup?

  6. No be only me waka come :slight_smile:


#4

Hi!

Are there membership plans for startups interesting in working out of Ventures Platform? If yes, how much do they cost?


#5

Is the funding disbursed during the incubation period/program or after the program?


#6

Has any of your recent cohorts gotten a term sheet from investors in your last demo day?


#7

Hi Fola,

First question(s) - What’s your general perception about startups in Nigeria/Africa. What are your favourite fields/areas? And what’s one field you wish entrepreneurs would tap into (and why)?


#8

Hi Fola

Does VP provide legal advisory services to these start ups as part of the package?Issues like trade mark registration and protection are becoming more important by the day. Thanks


#9

Hi Fola,

First off, you’re so fine. Now that that’s out of the way,

Question: How hands on are you with the startups that make it into the program and how do you deal with creative differences?


#10

Hi!

Quick responses to these:

  1. We ask for 10% equity - in exchange for $20k investment, and a ton of business support (incl. office space and accommodation for 4 months, we literally become another co-founder of your business. For companies at the early stage, its not too much because we believe the founding team still stay very motivated with 90%.

  2. (a) We’re extremely pro-founder (b) VP only invests in businesses we strongly believe in © VP team and mentors are world-class, and will help you grow!

  3. Depends, if your business is heavily reliant on tech, at least a founding team member should be.

  4. Equity conversations are tricky, but remember its better to own 90% of a N500m business, than 100% of a N100k business.

  5. For our accelerator program, $20k

  6. kontinu!

:smile:


#11

Yes, in addition to being an accelerator, we are also an innovation hub with a growing vibrant community. We have private offices and a co-working space.
Private offices are from 180k - 300k/month and can sit 4-8 people depending on the layout.
Co-working seats are from 20k/month to 50k/month depending on your needs.

All memberships come with furniture, internet, power, telephone access, mail handling, etc.

Oh we have a gym too! (for all member types)


#12

Yes it is disbursed during the incubation (now acceleration) period. Due diligence is carried out before the program starts, so once the agreements are signed, money is released in 2 or 3 trenches over the course of the program. Our program runs for 16 weeks, by week 8 latest, money will be completely disbursed.


#13

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: 6 of our companies went to demo day, most with the mindset of raising funds, but all of the mindset that the goal of their businesses is to grow and add value. They are all meeting customer needs and making money in the process, but a few of them are actually fund-raising. More information on this will be released in due time.

Startups need funding, but its not the end-goal. Read this article by Y Combinator CEO, Michael Sibel on startups and fundraising
https://blog.ycombinator.com/fundraising-rounds-are-not-milestones/


#14

Only you sir. :raised_hands:

I’m actually glad you brought this up, because we’ve seen a ton of incubator/accelerator activity in Nigeria, with varying results. The peak was in 2014, then a dip as the excitement cooled off, but we’re beginning to see another uptick, mostly as a result of international incubators/accelerators are setting their sights on emerging markets. YC, Techstars, 500…

Not sure that this is an actual question, but since you’ve worked at more than one of these programmes, I was wondering if you could interprete this activity?


#15

Hello Fola,

Thanks for doing this. I’ve always wondered about a couple of things:

  1. Alot of accelerators/incubators are focused on tech. Knowing how important incubators are in the startup world, is there a case to be made for (some) incubators to be sector-agnostic?

  2. How much weight does “impact” have in deciding which startup to back? In order words, apart from the obvious financial return to be made, is there also a considerable measure of bias towards startups who may not have significant return multiples, but can make huge impact.


#16

Hello Fola!

I’m a greenhorn so pardon my next question:

What’s the difference between an incubator and an accelerator?

Also - why did you switch from being an incubator to becoming an accelerator.

Thank you sir :pensive:


#17

Startups in Nigeria: Mixed perception really. Here’s why: I believe talent is evenly distributed across the world, and after seeing startups around, Nigerian founders can compete globally. We just get lazy sometimes (a lot of times to be honest), and loose focus easily, and try to do too many things. My colleague Kayode blogged about this after our VP tour last month took us to 8 cities in 2 african countries.

Favourite fields, personally, I think data management. Not enough people doing stuff with the data flying around. I also am getting curious with blockchain technologies these days. I also like education, and I think its amusing that books/learning have not been innovated/disrupted after all these years.


#18

YES WE DO!

This is sooooo important, and we help our startups tidy this as quickly as possible.

We work with a proper startup law firm (that understands the Nigerian startup terrain), and also encourage the startups to take up retainers (at a bargain) after the program.


#19

Hi!
Lol…Thanks for the compliment - I thank my parents for making good decisions. :blush:

We’re pretty hands-on! The team spends time early on in the program doing an initial assessment on several frontiers, we set goals based on the individual needs of the companies… We also assign relevant mentors to the companies. We also have scheduled checks-ins, and encourage the companies to book office hours with the team and mentors.

For creative differences, we can only offer support and advice based on what we know, have experienced, and can validate, entrepreneurs are naturally very “stubborn”. This can either be good or bad, depending on the scenario, but we advice the founders to follow the data, because thats where the truth and insights lie. Validate hypothesis, carry out A/B testing of the market, experiment, and in the words of Mark Essien, “don’t be stubborn till its working”.


#20

Oga Banks, I’m loyal sir :raised_hands:

First off, running an incubator/accelerator is hard, matter of fact, it might be the hardest business you can actually vie into! Startup success is 1 in 10, and founders sometimes have a misplaced sense of priorities that will see your invest follow the path of MMM (too soon?)

BUT… We know of the benefits of getting in early, we know that one good investment can right the wrongs of 100 “bad” ones, so we go on, and because we believe that iteration and learning from the mistakes of others will help you avoid pitfalls, we keep learning. Kola (VP Founder) told the team on day 1 that we were only allowed to “make new mistakes”, so we had to reach out to everyone that started and are still in the business, and those who have evolved, and those who have closed shop; to learn how we could get this right, and we are constantly learning that each day comes with its own battles.

The recent activity is really a testament of the fighting spirit of Nigerians, and our desire to diversify the economy in a legit and sustainable way. We are also lucky enough to live in a time when the world is now looking to Africa for the next global businesses, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers speaks about how success can be hacked, one of the traits was people tapping into opportunities that happened when they were ready. We definately need more accelerators/incubators to get more people ready!