I'm Seni Sulyman, Country Director of Andela, Ask Me Anything!


#21

Thank you . There are awesome young talented people highly interested in becoming word-class developers in Portharcourt !! It’s just so sad that majority of the the Big Tech companies in Nigeria are only based in Lagos and a few in Abuja.
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#22

Thanks a lot! Much much appreciated. And I absolutely agree with you regarding approaching from an ecosystem angle. We’ll keep pushing to open source, partner, and support curriculum at universities and other academic institutions.


#23

Hey @kaylaluchy totally understand your point. You’ll likely see concentration of capital around the major cities where it’s easier to operate. Right now Lagos and Abuja are objectively easier to operate in than PH (for context, I spent about a year building a hub for an airline I built that flies into PH daily, so I’m speaking from a bit of experience here). Capital will find the easiest return on investment, and then over time as infrastructure in PH develops further and the talent you’ve mentioned continues to show that they’re awesome (e.g., ForLoop PH, other dev meetups, contributions to open source, possibly startups being built in PH) the rest of us will jump on board.


#24

Hi Seni,

Thanks for doing this AMA.

I think I’m thick because I’m no longer sure I understand what Andela does. At least, I can’t articulate it to a 3rd party clearly. I used to think it was a “super-scalable consulting” org that was taking the proverbial African fight to the India BPO shops. From a lot of what I’m reading here, it sounds like a new type of ed-tech play.

Can you explain in simple terms what Andela’s business model is i.e. not the long-term social goals, but to paraphrase the great poet of our time, the late great Tupac, “how do you make a dollar out of 15 cents?”

Many thanks.


#25

Hi,

Congrats on the funding round. Thank you for doing this.

My question is will this funding round lead to higher pay for current and potential Andela fellows? lol…I’m always an advocate for developers earning as much as is possible in their respective environments.


#26

Hahaha @techscorpion I love that quote. Here’s what Andela does in a very simple bullet list:

Somewhere in Technologyville:

  • Tech Co has raised capital (or is a bigger company) trying to build a new product or refine an existing one (could be a website, app, software, platform, or some other tech product)
  • Tech Co has a team (call them Team Awesome) dedicated to this product or set of features. They need to build it in a specified time frame and need 15 people to achieve that
  • Team Awesome has 12 people in total. They’ve been trying to hire those 3 other people for a few months and have struggled to find the right people, or when they find people with the right skills they didn’t fit into their teams
  • Team Awesome runs the risk of no longer being awesome by the time they miss their product roadmap deadlines
  • So they turn to Andela to help provide those 3 people, initially for a 1 yr period and then possibly for longer if things work out well
  • Sometimes, as Team Awesome works with Andela devs, they realize they actually need 3 more people. Rather than going to recruit elsewhere, they ask Andela to add more members to the team.

Somewhere in Nigeria:

  • A young brilliant guy or lady (call them SuperDev) has gone through the rigorous process of applying to, and being accepted into, Andela
  • SuperDev spends 6 months ramping up on skills ranging from tech skills (e.g. Ruby on Rails) to professional skills (e.g. how to manage stakeholder expectations) to values alignment (e.g. integrity - doing the right thing even when no one is watching)
  • SuperDev gets placed in TeamAwesome as a Ruby on Rails developer for a year
  • SuperDev advances his/her experience in software development by working with the members of TeamAwesome, learning from the senior ones, sometimes leading parts of the team, and ultimately building world class products

Somewhere in Andela Finance department:

  • Money comes in from TechCo because Andela has solved their problem by providing SuperDev
  • Money goes out to SuperDev because SuperDev is working daily with Andela’s partner, TechCo
  • The difference between the two monies above is used to run Andela, reinvest in the business, and compensate everyone else that is part of the support ecosystem to make SuperDev able to become world-class, and the ecosystem that allows Andela to find and sell to partners like TechCo

Makes sense?


#27

Makes sense. I understand the skill/compensation arbitrage playbook. I stumbled on some work you did for an insure-tech company (Z****) and I thought it was excellent.

What I didn’t know was that consulting sans product could scale especially with competition from India but you seem to have found a way to make it work. I still suspect you have a product strategy brewing in your labs but I guess it’s under wraps.

All in all, well done and good luck.

Offtopic - I see your people standing at that junction late at night and I suspect many will read this. It is extremely dangerous. I know you are new to the area but take it from a next-door neighbour that has seen the worst of Ikorodu road, it is an accident waiting to happen. Unsavoury characters lurk in dem shadows.


#28

@dyydxx in the TechCrunch article someone posted above, the journalist accuses Andela of paying above market and causing local developers to be too expensive. I’ve also heard this personally from the CEOs and Founders of several technology companies. We don’t want to disrupt the technology ecosystem in the markets we play in, but we do have to recognize that once developers are able to expose their talent to a global audience, their earning potential increases significantly and they need to be rewarded for that (and also for helping to drive the growth the company is experiencing). Our salaries are already super competitive in Nigeria. And need to continuously balance the two factors mentioned above.


#29

@techscorpion Perhaps one day we’ll actually have the full ecosystem of institutions, systems, processes and supporting technology that solves the problem of crime. For now, we’ll try to continue to help our folks stay safe. We’ve done things like add a subsidized company shuttle, shared safety and awareness tips, had conversations with the area boys to plead with them, etc. It pains me that people waiting for public transit to go to/from their places of work have to be scared of criminals lurking. These are the types of problems that are solvable overnight, which the right public sector leaders can help us with.


#30

This by far is the most effective, out-of-the-box thinking I’ve seen in any tech company this year. :smiley:

I’m impressed mate.


#31

@senisulyman,quotes from tech crunch article about Andela’s new funding

“Andela says it will use the money to fund aggressive expansion plans — including the launch of two additional offices in other African countries.
But the financing comes as some local entrepreneurs have told us they worry about Andela taking money and attention away from other startups which are actually based on the ground in the continent”

what is your opinion about the above paragraph and what is andela doing to reduce the fears of some local founders thinking andela is taking all the attention away?


#32

@jamesbond
It’s preposterous what is being implied in the article. Also, some of what is claimed there aren’t factual at all. Are they saying Andela isn’t based on the ground in the continent?..What would you call the Yaba Office???
Local startups and entrepreneurs always want to pay peanuts for development especially in Nigeria. Development is hard as it is and this is currently the best job market for developers globally, it’s a shame we need to consider the so called “fears of some local founders” in getting reasonable compensation for developers.


#33

@techscorpion I wish it was my idea. But it wasn’t. Two of my awesome colleagues Sulaimon and Gbenga spearheaded this grassroots offensive :).


#34

@jamesbond it’s only in Africa that I’ve heard someone complain that another company is taking attention away from them.

For context, you can tell from the article that the TechCrunch writer is bitter about something. So he wrote a pretty slanderous piece. We know what his issue is, but not worth publishing here. Unfortunately for him, people have largely ignored his negativity and instead asked us direct, honest questions so that we can share our own thoughts.

My response is that if anyone wants to be at the center of tech in Nigeria, they should just do something that will get everyone excited, and then talk about it. We are very open about our mission, our culture and we are very very embedded in the ecosystem (our current and past employees are leaders in several initiative that touch thousands in Nigeria alone, and same elsewhere). Can you imagine a company in silicon valley saying another company is stealing all the attention?


#35

@dyydxx it was hard for me to believe this too but it’s real o.

I have no reply to the journalist’s comment about whether we are African. Our Hundreds of employees know who they are.


#36

@senisulyman Thanks for your answer.

@dyydxx @senisulyman
The presentation of African news by Western media convinces the audiences in United States, Europe and other parts of the world that the entire continent of Africa is hopeless, poverty and disease stricken

The power of the pen is great and can destroy and make a company

My opinion,i think we need to protect our ecosystem from negative press especially from western press

false impression by western media on Africa has caused more damage than good on African image and we do not want that to happen with our Eco system.

Even though sometimes we need some reality check on our businesses by the press but we need to call out bad and frivolous articles written by un-professional writers in the western press giving readers bad impression about our eco-system.

calling those writers out,educating them and giving them real facts will help in reducing some of these unprofessional write ups

#unite against bad press :slight_smile:


#37

Good stuff Andela is doing! I’m an advocate for the best renumeration package where possible and frown at the numerous complaints of “someone paying too much” for the local ecosystem, more so because Africa’s biggest advantage and wastage is it’s immense human resource. China has been able to effectively harness it’s human resource, many of the Asian Tigers of today being it’s direct ripple effects.

@senisulyman is there a plan for the “bottom 99%” who don’t make it into the Andela fellowship, seeing as there are still so many “superdevs” in that number, and isn’t it possible for Andelans to work with local founders for equity?


#38

@jamesbond I stand united with you against bad press :)!


#39

Hey @Jaiye just want to make sure we at Andela, and the rest of our ecosystem recognize our true capability and avoid a “savior complex” situation, where we think we can solve everything, or are expected to. It usually sets expectations high and then disappoints.

We’ll definitely continue to support the ecosystem through initiatives like Teen Code, through our Distributed Learning Community and through our Android Learning community. The idea is to help hundreds of thousands of aspiring developers level up and hone their craft. But I’m being very careful not to get into the trap of asking what we’ll do for the other 99% because that places a responsibility that I think no single company should bear. The entire ecosystem, and our schools, and our other institutions should be thinking about this 99% collectively.

Makes sense?


#40

@senisulyman

Hi Boss.

Please this is off topic but after a week of contacting apply.nigeria@andela.com and not getting any response I decided to reach out to you here.

I applied for the ongoing XXIX cycle but I’m yet to receive the link to the saberr test. I have already received the link for the Home study curriculum test. Please could you kindly help me look into this.

Thanks and Congrats on the funding. I hope to start with you guys next year.