We are on a mission to make Yaba the tech epicentre of Nigeria. For that to happen, startups need to settle in Yaba, and those startups will need to be funded. Currently, funding is difficult to come by, and many startups give up because of this. This is a call for ideas on how we can increase the funding opportunities available to Yaba startups in each of the below areas:
Grand aim of the Pillar: Increase funding for Yaba Startups
Bullet Point objectives of the Pillar:
How might we increase funding at the pre-seed level ($5k to $50k range)
How might we increase funding at the seed level ($50k to $500k)
How might we increase funding at the Series-A level ($500k to $5m)
How might we increase funding for bigger cheques ($5m+)
How might we increase funding for infrastructure and private-equity style deals ($10m+ with non-VC style characteristics. Examples here would be Gyms, Cafes, Parking Lots)
First of all, I must commend the team that came up with these ideas and also the volunteers for the various work streams. Great stuff!
I think there is a growing pool of working professionals who are willing to commit funds in the range of $5k - $50k. In some cases, they are willing to form SPVs or cooperatives to co-invest depending on need at hand.
Beyond these, they are willing to provide support and mentoring from their various fields of strength and experience to assist these businesses to grow.
This pool of investors exist and are willing to commit subject to the ventures passing due diligence and risk tolerance tests.
I think there needs to be a clear structure as to how:
To access the qualifying investors and engage them.
I subscribe to VC4A and I think it’s a good example of a platform that can be used to link the founders with the investors and also for mentorship.
I was glad to attend the first meeting and indeed, we are on a fruitful journey.
About the questions on how to increase funding for different levels of Startups. The following are my suggestions:
Talking to the active tech investors (invested in 1 or 2 Startups in the last 12 months) to know their next area of interest.
Engaging and educating non tech investors about the available opportunities and great deals in funding tech startups
Encouraging successful startup founders to emulate the funding style of @Jason_Igwe_Njoku and @mark on OgaVenue.
Encouraging startup founders that have raised funds to do intros for other known startups that are yet to raise fund.
I have been invited to investors meetup at CChub twice and I can recall @shollsman met Hiro (an investor) in the US and invited him to Nigeria last year for a meetup and Pitch Contest which my startup (Edves) emerged second and the winner went home with $2,500 so, let’s encourage other hubs and individuals to emulate this.
Startups founders need to run business with integrity and diligence to ensure good returns for the investors. This will attract other investors.
People rarely invest in stuff that they do not understand (except for Friends, family and fools)
There is a lot of money sitting around in Nigeria doing nothing.
What can be done to educate the finance ecosystem (especially the banks) about the emerging tech business models in Nigeria?
Forget the banks, they are not useful in this regard. Let us focus more on ourselves.
I think startups should go for low-interest loans (3% per annum) from friends, family and reasonable people. They can give them an option to decide what part of the loan they will like to turn to equity.
Like someone mentioned, there’s lots of money sitting around in Nigeria. Wonder why the banks are making so much profit even during recessions…
I remember having to fight with some of my colleagues during the last Ponzi scheme wave. And the question one of them asked out of guilt and sincerity was “But what can one invest in Nigeria?” Truth is, I didn’t really have a clear answer to that question, even though I knew investing in startups was one of the best options available but certainly not with petty cash. This mirrors the challenge most other Nigerians have.
The solution I thought out was a crowdfunding platform where “investors” are the masses and startups are the investees. With intelligent management, a carefully selected and well diversified portfolio of startups will not only dilute the risk inherent in any one startup (5% survival chance in 5 years like they put it) but will also guarantee highly promising returns and in my estimate, over 20% per annum which is considered the benchmark of a good ROI.
What will be needed?
A tech platform with a very simple UX where anyone anywhere can sign up and invest “petty risk capital” within minutes, can see the value of their money grow in real time, and can make withdrawals easily.
Intelligent management! Selection of startups should be considered based on carefully selected metrics and not abstract things like “the idea” or “the team” that cannot be assigned an objective value.
And a short vesting period, I will suggest as low as 6 months as the masses might not be positioned for long-term investments. (Now, the short vesting period is the crux of the business model but it is very possible)
People need to understand how equity investment works. And here, we’re talking of the general population.
Also, I have not reviewed the relevant SEC laws in Nigeria on such crowdfunding platforms for protection of the masses who make such investments. But I think that can be easily sorted out.
In addition, some form of insurance can also be applied to hedge against periods of poor performance in order to guarantee a steady ROI.
Now let’s put in some numbers:
It was rumored that over 3 million Nigerians were involved in the last Ponzi schemes. Imagine 3 million people contributing N10,000 each. That will be N30B or over $100M in crowdfunding. This can provide:
Pre-seed funding of $25K to 4,000 startups, or
Seed funding of $250K to 400 startups, or
Series A funding of $2.5M to 40 startups!!!
A diversified portfolio will look like:
Pre-seed funding of $25K to 1,000 startups, ie, $25M (1/4)
Seed funding of $250K to 200 startups, ie, $50M (2/4)
Series A funding of $2.5M to 10 startups, ie, $25M (1/4)
Making the total of $100M
If you also consider the fact that about 15% of Nigerians are in the middle class, that will be close to 30 million people. You can multiply the above figures by 10. That’s a whooping $1B!!!
Is N10,000 possible risk capital for the Nigerian middle class? Your answer is as good as mine to consider this feasible.
To answer your question, I’d recommend a program tentatively called Yaba Cluster Quarterly Investment Tour, during which we’d invite potential investors, philanthropists and banks to a 1-week tour of companies in the emerging Yaba Technology Cluster. Part of it will include a Guided Tour/Site Visit to high performance Startups & Co-working spaces, Roundtable Discussions focused on sectoral insights, Breakfast Meetings, Pitch Meetings, Interactive sessions with legislators under which Yaba falls, Interactive Sessions with government representatives etc - different activities during each quarterly tour would be hosted by different Startups in the cluster.
If we start with a target list of 500 local & 200 international potential impact investors, CSR heads of companies, Philanthropists, Venture Capitalists, family foundations, Senators, Foreign Embassies of key countries, media organizations, I think we may be able to get up to 20 investors to participate per quarter. I believe this tour will serve as a good investor education medium about the potentials of Nigerian startups and if we do proper housekeeping, the Yaba Cluster Quarterly Investment Tour could serve as a source of high quality Deal flows for investors, and they’d keep coming back on their own.
Another outcome I foresee from these tours is that CSR units of companies, Family Foundations & Foreign Embassies would increasingly design programs that provide support to Startups in Yaba (or double up efforts on current programs).
The Yaba Cluster Quarterly Investment Tour, will be a beautiful thing for the ecosystem if we can all bond together and pull this off.
@nke_ise You always ask thought-provoking questions on this platform; Kudos!
Suggested Action Steps:
Community amends/develops and potentially adopts solution
Design a program framework
Encourage all Startups in Yaba & environs to do proper ‘housekeeping’
Build target list of local & foreign investors to invite
Determine logistics needed for the program
Identify potential local hosts for each activities during the Yaba Cluster Quarterly Investment Tour,
Set a date (maybe first quarter of 2018) then Launch project
Document lessons learned from first edition, Iterate & Improve
Maybe when the startups that have graduated the “I need money” phase get more transparent about their revenues, the smaller guys would get some love from investors that won’t want to miss out again (this is basically what has powered the investment boom in silicon valley). But then again, how remarkable are the revenues? And while I’m asking questions; what are the startups willing to give up in terms of stake? Has any startup gone public in recent years? Which/why not?..I’m sorry for blabbing (I’ve had a boring day) but my real point is that instead of asking what investors can do for startups, we should ask what startups can do for investors, answer the question honestly and present the answer to investors.
It has been an absolute thrill reading the comments and contributions made to the Funding pillar of the manifesto. It goes to show our depth of thought and our yearning for progress.
The great ideas proposed, if properly implemented, can truly grow our tech ecosystem and greatly increase the quality of products.
What are the next steps?
Over the next week (Aug 7th - Aug 18th), the volunteer committees for each team, coordinated by pillar leads would collate all the suggestions made here and across social media. They would refine it and make the additions to the existing draft.
We are using this opportunity as well, to ask people who are interested in being volunteers for each pillar to do so by dropping their email addresses. You would be contacted by the pillar leads.
After the collation of all elements of the manifesto, the committees would create a sample implementation plan for executing the ideas we have proposed during this process.
Simultaneously, Dele Bakare and his team would create the website that would house the manifesto.
Further information about the progress of the manifesto would be provided as time goes by.
Because we rush off trying to maybe replicate a silicon valley how about we look @ the several tiny external often overlooked factors…
because all things being equal all things are never equal
How do we naturally create a better environment that includes (Light & Cheap + Super fast Data?)
How do we create an eco system that supports learning and thinking outside the box? the culture is closed minded and it reflects in how a 7 yr old will try to oppress a 5yr old cos he’s more matured heck its what enters in to the Government
I mean everyone is asking about the billion dollar African startup a.k.a Unicorn but thats probably impossible for the next 20 years or should i say 50 ???
how is it really an African startup when the main share holders are probably germans?
The truth is the environment is too poor & closed minded the first thing i think that will matter most will be say
Free 24/7 Electricity in Yaba
Free Data inside Yaba accessible to anyone
not $50k VC funding
Like Sam Altman of Ycombinator said its all about cost and cycles
ill break it into
Can you afford to do it?
Can you afford to do it a lot?
Funding can always be crowd sourced by the people or market @ the least but VC / Big Corporations might not fancy that because its not directly making them cash in the short term
i’ll go as far as to say free electricity & data inside Yaba for 1% of all your innovations is a WIN WIN for everyone